Dear Ivy: Desire

My Dear Ivy,

I wrote yesterday about confounding expectations, and today I want to talk about a very specific set of expectations. The day before, I wrote about gratefulness and cultivating a sense of contentment. My letter today might sound like I’m contradicting the advice of that letter a bit, but I’m not.

Today – and for the next couple days – I want to talk to you about desires.

Specifically, I want you to have them.

What I wrote earlier about contentment was not intended to discourage you from wanting things. It was to discourage you from focusing so much on wanting things that you never take the time to enjoy what you have.

But there are two extremes here. It’s easy to forget about what you have and get wrapped up in what you don’t. But I’ve personally struggled with the opposite – becoming so set in my ways and comfortable in what I have, that I forget to take the time to want more.

For you, as the youngest of three, this may turn out to be even more difficult than it has been for me. Your brother and sister will naturally guide much of your activity throughout your early life. By the time you read this, you may already be accustomed to just sort of going along with what they want.

Just remember, it’s ok for you to want something different. It’s ok for you to do something different. And it’s ok for you to want others to do it with you, just as you will often end up doing what they want.

I can tell you from painful personal experience that honoring your desires is an important part of something we talked about at the very start of these letters – holding on to your self. It’s really, really easy for someone with an accommodating, non-confrontational personality like mine to just sort of go along with what others around me are doing – so much that I forget that I ever wanted anything different. It’s easy for someone like me who thrives on helping other people to spend so much time and energy focused on their desires that I forget about my own. I’ve been there, and what isn’t easy is the process of coming back from it – of rediscovering your self and the things you want for yourself and your life.

I don’t know, yet, whether your personality will turn out like mine in this sense. But if it does, I hope I can save you the pain of that process of rebuilding the self. I hope these letters will help.

So even as you cultivate a sense of gratitude for the people and things that enrich your life, never stop dreaming of more. Like I wrote in my letter about expectations, there will be critics and detractors who tell you that your dreams are too big. Ignore them, and dream anyway. I can promise you that life will not bring you everything you desire, but I can promise you that it will bring you a lot closer to where you want to be if you do take the time to desire, than it will if you don’t.

I look forward to sharing your dreams with you.

I love you.

Love,
~Dad

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