What do you want?

It always bothered me that the bad guys in Babylon 5 always asked ‘what do you want?’ It’s one of the most useful questions to ask – of each other and of ourselves. In digging in to find out what we want, we can learn a lot about who we are, where we are going, what needs to change. Wanting should not automatically be associated with greed and selfishness. It’s a necessary, healthy and frequently good part of our humanity.

What do I want? I’ve been asking that question a lot lately, and digging in with the answers. It’s not an easy question and it’s shown me things that have been tough to square up to. In understanding what I want, I have to own the areas of my life that aren’t giving me what I want and need. I have to face the aches, absences and insufficiencies in order to know what I want to change. I have to face up to the things I do that don’t work, or haven’t gone the way I wanted them to. I’ve learned a lot, doing this. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve released a lot of anger and frustration I didn’t even know I was carrying before I started.

Of course what I want cannot be just about me. I have a son and a husband to consider, so I’ve been asking what they want, and we’ve started exploring those issues and dreams together. I’ve started talking to my closest friends as well. Seeing who has similar wants and issues and what we might co-dream from here.

The biggest issue for me in all of this is the day to day grief of not being able to do enough in face of climate chaos. We’re a low carbon household, but we aren’t restorative. I want to be restorative. I need to plant trees. I don’t even have a garden I could put a small fruit tree in. I’ve got small trees in buckets, it’s the best I can do where I live, but it has never been enough.

I need wildness.

I crave community. This has been a curious one, because where I’ve talked to various friends about this, it turns out the perception is that I’m deeply immersed in my local community. I’m not. I tend to feel peripheral at best. I’d assumed that was about me – that either I don’t know how to belong, or I don’t know how to do the right things to feel a sense of belonging. Now I’ve opened that can of worms, my perception of what’s going on has shifted dramatically. It may not be a failing on my part.

I’m asking what I can change in the short term. What can I do now that would improve things for me? What do I want that I can have? And what happens in the longer term? At this point, I think I know, but there are still some conversations I need to have privately before I start talking about it more publicly.

What do I want? To put down the idea that wanting itself is morally suspect. To make room for what desire, and longing can teach me. To act based on what I learn.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

12 responses to “What do you want?

  • Barney Rubble

    Good post.
    Am having an evening alone on the couch thinking about these sorts of questions. People who are not thinking about the future of our world and life on it tend to be wanting things very much about their own gratification. They often use sentiment or poach values to sway opinion to their designs.
    Usually though they chase something down of the mother that they have not asked for appropriately. I suppose they rarely have a calling or path.
    It baffles me some days what people will do. I probably spend more time wondering about it than they ever do.
    I’m a Stargate man myself… and Red Dwarf.

    • Nimue Brown

      On of the concepts from Taoism that I like and keep coming back to,is that if you’ve got yourself into a state of harmony with the world, you don’t have to worry about being good, that doing what’s right will naturally flow from you. It’s about getting past what we’re told to want to find an authentic calling, i think.

  • Barney Rubble

    I agree and it is amazing that you say that because it directly related to the person who perplexed me today. Thank you and thank you universe

  • Barney Rubble

    We do right action because we meditate usually. I have come across too many burning the candle both ends and the poor souls have to get honest with whatever it is they stand for I guess. My heart went through so much and survived to remember those who didn’t that I really want nothing in life. I serve life and my health is my wealth. My brother often spoke about changes to come and more than 20 years on he has never left me as we knew always that life on life terms… I guess I just like to surf.

  • contemplativeinquiry

    ‘Community’ is a word with a halo around it. It’s an obvious good thing and answer to problems, both personal and collective. May be it’s worth asking what we actually mean by community and what hopes and expectations we have. I know for me that it isn’t about being immersed in groups of people doing stuff: that model can actually be a distraction from what I think of as community. Just a thought!

    • Nimue Brown

      that’s really interesting – certainly if different people have different ideas of what’s desirable, that’s not going to help much… I’ve been thinking also about how much work satisfies the need for connection for many people and how that might impact on things, too.

  • bish

    Oh… and instantly I am transitioned into the universe that shared so much Awen with me back then. Your first line stopped me cold. Were the Shadows the bad guys? They were certainly the opponents of the main protagonists, and in conflict with the “good guys”, but were the Vorlons the god guys? Oh, I mistyped, and then realised I hadn’t, really.

    What do you want, was a trick question. Appropriately enough it was asked by the gods of chaos where the gods of order asked who you were. What you wanted could be realised, but the inevitable cost of making it so (oops, wrong universe) was generally overlooked until too late. Nobody tended to ask ‘What do you need’ or “Where do you want to be”…

    Canute had a strategy against immense and overwhelming power. It failed (ooh, more B5 monologue, I really have to dig those grainy DVDs out). Climate Chaos and Global Burning are as unstoppable as the Tsunami that took the old king. The moral imperative may be to act in ways that do not inappropriately add to the energy of the oncoming waves, but to live is to consume.

    “Who are you?” I am trying hard to be grey. I stand between the candle and the star. Deal with your own impact, but don’t invite metal torture by owning everyone else’s. Plant trees, but don’t expect plantations to be wild. And all the best people live on the periphery. 😉

  • Aurora J Stone

    Thought provoking post Nimue. I don’t have a sense of the Babylon 5 references, but what you say is still validm because its about life the universe and everything right now.

    Good final to paragraphs, bish. Especially the last sentence.

  • emberbear

    ~Great post. Great comments. I’m a big B5 fan too but that has been exhaustively explored so I will just say I have spent the last twenty minutes watching a beautiful sunset: gold, lavender blue and pink. Gorgeous in itself but enhanced by seeing it through the now bare branches of a cherry tree. Every tree is the tree of life. They are truly our saviours.

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