Dan Caro has been proving the world wrong since he was in diapers. When he was two years old, he was engulfed in a fireball during a gasoline explosion in the family garage and was left with third-degree burns over most of his body—so severe that doctors held out little hope he’d survive more than a few days. Dan was in such excruciating pain that his devastated parents silently prayed for God to end their son’s suffering and welcome him into heaven. And it seemed as if God was willing to oblige—Dan technically died on the operating table several times in the hours following the accident.
But even though his heart stopped, Dan’s spirit wasn’t ready to give up . . . somehow he knew he had work to do. Despite the odds, Dan survived, but life would not be easy. The fire left him badly maimed and disfigured. His hands were burned away, as was most of his skin and nearly all of his face. He would endure years of painful surgeries and endless months of lonely isolation in burn units, only to suffer the agony of social rejection, shunned and called “monster” by both children and adults in his Louisiana hometown.
With the support of his loving parents and siblings, Dan did not despair. He kept his heart open to the world and focused on the positive energy around him. Before his sixth birthday, he vowed that his life would not be defined by the way others saw him or the restrictions of his so-called physical handicaps. Dan set himself a series of life goals, starting with the art of tying his shoelaces without fingers. Once he had achieved that milestone, he decided he could do anything . . . so why not learn to play the drums?
When Dan was told he’d never be able to do so, he promised himself that one day he’d become one of the most accomplished drummers in the city that gave jazz its name—New Orleans! Since that day, Dan’s music has inspired thousands, and many more have also been inspired by his personal philosophy of focusing on the positive, refusing to accept limits, and living life with an open heart. Today, the young man who was once shunned and called “monster” by his neighbors is very much in demand as a public speaker and travels the country encouraging others to not just overcome life’s hardships, but to view adversity as a gift that can drive us toward reaching our full potential.
The Gift of Fire is Dan’s first book.
This has been called the age of information. There’s no shortage of information; in fact, there may be way too much. When a nominee was named for the Supreme Court, the Judicial Committee was given a list of every single movie that this person had rented for the past 10 years! If we look at this word information, in the very center of it there’s the word form. Form describes the world of the physical, the world of boundaries, the world of beginnings and ends. When we are in the world of form, what we get is information. But let’s shift our attention to another world which is the source of everything physical.
St. Paul said, “That which is seen hath not come from that which doth appear”—the source of everything in the world of form is not from the world of form. It’s from the world of Spirit—the world of the invisible which has no boundaries, no beginnings and no ends. When you are in the world of Spirit, what you get is “inspiration.” What we have in our world today is a spiritual deficit. We don’t have enough emphasis on the importance of being inspired and living in-Spirit.
One of the most important lessons I ever learned comes from the great spiritual teacher Patanjali: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Imagine that just by moving into the world of inspiration you can activate “dormant forces,”—forces that you thought were dead, that you thought were not available to you—and you can make them work for you when you are inspired. You don’t get tired, you don’t get hungry, you don’t worry about money, and you don’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow. You’re moving into the world of God. Being inspired is probably the most important thing you can do. Look at all the things around you and say, “Where did all of this come from?” It all came from the world of Spirit, the world of inspiration. It’s the spirit that gives life.
Just as a candle spreads light in a darkened room, people who are living in-Spirit give off a higher energy that can bring light to our hearts and minds. In other words, we can be inspired just by being in their presence. How can we find people who are living their lives in-Spirit? One measure that has worked for me is the “joy index.” When we meet others who we think might be living in-Spirit, we can ask the following questions: Do they seem to have a rapturous heart, sending out signals that they love the world and everyone in it? Are they jubilant about the work they do? Do they see the world as a friendly place? Are they at peace with themselves? Do they appear to be kind rather than judgmental? Do they tend to be cheerful? Do they love to play? Are they willing to be students as well as teachers? Do they love nature? Are they in awe of the world? Are they approachable? Do they take great pleasure in serving others? Do they accept all people as equals? Are they open to new ideas? The answers to these questions will help us determine whether another person is potentially an inspiring influence in our lives. We can recognize them by how we feel in their presence. We recognize their high spiritual energy, which longs to be active in our lives. For me, it feels like a warm, soothing shower that’s running deep within me. I know I’m resonating with a higher energy that makes me feel incredibly good!