Recently I visited my two youngest grandchildren, who are 3 years old and 6 months old. We mixed it up pretty good and there was lots going on- potty training and wild games of ball and hours of play dough creations and lots of snuggling and rocking, silly faces and singing.
It was a delight to be with them, they are both so full of the joy of being alive and exploring their personal worlds with unbridled curiosity. I was struck again and again by the utter shamelessness of their desires. Need food? Just cry (6 month old) or lift shirt, point to belly and say “hungry” (3 year old). Either way, food will appear. If it’s not fast enough, you can ask again, louder this time. “I want it!” You need food, you just ask.
The 3 year old has desires bigger than he is. He wants to climb this thing, read this book 7 times in a row, sit on every rock in the neighbour’s garden, many more treats, and a long turn on the PlayStation all at once, please, and he has no shame in asking for whatever he wants. He doesn’t take it personally if the answer is no, either. He doesn’t much like it when you hurry him into the car when he is watching an ant crawling across the driveway, or when he wants 10 more jelly beans, but he doesn’t feel any shame around asking for it.
I had so much fun watching him stretch and squeeze into tiny places and hang upside down and explore all the ways his body could move. And there was a great celebration culminating in a naked potty dance when he successfully deposited a #2. The whole family joined in to celebrate this totally natural, normal, wonderful thing his body could do. (The rest of us kept our pants on, but boy did we dance!)
And that sweet, sweet baby girl. Her delight in pushing herself up to standing was infectious and she had no shame in demanding more. There was no doubt that her shrieks translated to “Hold me up! More more more! This is fun!” At every diaper change, she laughed and giggled and patted her chubby thighs, enjoying the air on her genitals and the freedom to dance her legs in the air, unencumbered by a bulky diaper.
It makes me wonder about my own desire. When did it start feeling wrong for me to ask for what I want? Where did this shame around wanting and asking come from, especially around my body and it's longings? Whether I'm wanting a piece of cake or a breast massage, why is my desire connected to shame in wanting it?
Why can’t we ask for what we want? Why don’t we? When did we start to believe that wanting and asking is wrong? Feeling desire should be delicious- the anticipation, the imagining, the energy flowing through our bodies- delicious, normal, and completely natural.
Whatever our desires, they are ours, purely, simply and in fact necessarily. If we didn’t feel desire we wouldn’t eat or drink or even sleep until we collapsed in a puddle of our own making, brought on by the fact that we felt no desire to pee. Truth is, to have desire is to be alive. Desire is good.
Today, I'm giving myself permission to want. I'm allowing myself to feel my desires, really feel them, and welcome them and appreciate them, shamelessly. I'm going to love them so much that I can shout them to the world!
Wanna join me?
You might be thinking, “I can’t voice my desires, I might get told no.” You might, and that would suck, and you might be disappointed. But you’ve been disappointed before, and you are a survivor.
And besides, the purpose of today’s game is not to achieve your desires (although you might, and if you do, feel free to do a naked potty dance!), but to enjoy and savour your natural, life-giving, delicious desires.
Come on, you can do it. What do you want?