Dear Ivy: Fulfill

My Dear Ivy,

My last few letters have been about dreams, and about the pursuit of your dreams. I’d like to wrap up this set of letters with a final thought. Don’t just desire, and don’t just pursue your desires. Fulfill them.

As with so many of these letters, I am speaking as much to myself as I am to you. I have spent much of my entire life settling for less than what I really wanted. You may not always see that, largely because my family is probably the one area in which I’ve never “settled” . . . you and your brother and your sister and your mom are the most special, most important people in my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But in other areas, I’ve made a habit of “just dealing with it” . . . whatever “it” might be at the time.

This gets back to what I wrote a few letters back about cultivating gratitude and contentment, but not growing too content. For much of my life, in many areas of life, I’ve been “too content.” I’ve coasted on what I’ve already got, occasionally tinkered with one of my big dreams or desires, but rarely ever taken them to their conclusion. I’m very good at starting things. I’m not so great at finishing them. I’m good at finding the easy way around something. But sometimes there’s really no substitute for going through something, and coming out stronger on the other side, having fulfilled your dream.

It’s highly satisfying to conclude “this is what I want,” and it’s even more satisfying to start on the road to achieving it. But there’s nothing quite so satisfying as getting there. One of the best feelings in the world is to start from a place of imagining something, to engage in the monumental effort of pursuing the object of your desires, and finally to realize it. Maybe it’s something you’ve seen someone else do, or maybe it’s something new and unique to you. Maybe it’s something you’re pursuing on your own, or maybe it’s a team effort. There is joy in the dreaming, and there is joy in the doing. But there is also joy in having done. In the sense of accomplishment that comes with looking at your dreams and saying “I (or we) did it.”

I know this feeling. I’ve felt it a few times in my life upon the occasion of some great achievement, and I feel it again a little bit, every time I hear you or your brother or sister say something that I know you got from me.

But there are also many, many times when I’ve missed out on that feeling, because I’ve dreamed the dream, and maybe pursued it partway, but stopped short of realizing it. 

There are times when that’s necessary – again, remember to have empathy for yourself in those moments. There may be times when you’re forced to choose between different dreams, or when a certain dream is simply out of reach.

But when that’s not the case – when the opportunity presents itself to realize a dream, take it. If the choice is between fulfilling your dreams and engaging in some other obligation or expectation. Choose the dream. Remember what I said earlier, “don’t ‘should’ on yourself.” Don’t let the obligations or expectations of life force you to forego your dreams.

Fulfill them.

And if there’s anything I can do along the way to help, let me know. I’ll be right here, any time you need me.

I love you.

Love,
~Dad

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