25 Comments
May 14Liked by Luke Burgis

I am a NYC native who needs density or else I go slightly insane. I keep seeing all the cute "modern homestead" mommies with their sourdough and chickens and wonder if I would be good at that life. They make it seem so easy and wholesome. Yet in my actual day to day I really gravitate AWAY from anything of the sort... let's say I've never willingly picked up a chicken lol.

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I hear that Liz. I've lived in a major city the past 24 years of my life. Now I have an insatiable desire to live on a farm—and when we stay at them (AirBNB's, etc), I love it, but it's only for 3-7 days (would I go crazy after a year?). Currently discerning to what extent this desire is 'thick'. Of course, the compromise we always reach is: "Rural setting, but close enough to a big city." I have realized, though, that in order to do a proper discernment on this question I can basically never look at one of these lifestyle influencers ever again.

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I ended up living in a city but on a green part: on top of a hill and with a garden overlooking the woods and easy access to more green.

I never go out of the house-garden boundaries (except for walking the dog) and even less to town!

I do miss intellectual stimulation, but not enough to make me want to go to town (10 minute drive!).

That was unexpected, I thought I wanted to be close to city activities but it turns out that over a long enough amount of time, I do not care that much.

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Ha “I can basically never look at one of these lifestyle influencers again.” Yes to that.

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May 14Liked by Luke Burgis

Having kids, because that's what people do, regardless of whether you understand what parenthood asks of you. It's not a new discussion by any means, but the concept of a mimetic desire with a time limit on it is an interesting one - for many women, the decision is made for them if they leave it too long.

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I started playing guitar at the age of 12 or so because I was starting to notice girls my age, and they did not seem to be noticing me back. I spent the remainder of my teenage and young adult years studying, practicing, and performing with the goal of latching onto a successful touring act as a hired gun and traveling the world playing sold-out arenas. While I loved playing the guitar at some level naturally, the desire to use that skill to stand out from the crowd was (and probably still is) a primary motivating factor. I was an ordinary man who sought notoriety.

The nature of my desires fundamentally shifted when my kids were born. It's a strange and wonderful thing to love another person all the way, all at once the way I did when I first held my children. The dream of touring the world as a traveling musician was replaced with the desire to be present in my kids' lives and raise them well.

To this day I can go to a concert and feel pangs of regret that my old dream was never realized. But I know that investing in my kids will have a deeper, more lasting impact on my family and the world than entertaining the masses for a few hours at a time. In my life, I've found that the further from self love is directed, the thicker the desire informed by that love tends to be.

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That’s so cool that you’ve seen that shift with your desires to be centered around your kids’ lives. It’s taken time but I’ve noticed my desires shaping significantly around my daughter’s wellbeing since she was born.

“The further from self love is directed, the thicker the desire informed by that love tends to be.”

Sheesh. This hits hard.

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May 14Liked by Luke Burgis

Is comparison really the thief of joy...or can it be our friend?

My wife shared last week that she will NEVER compare herself to others. Because, she mentioned, that "comparison (really) is the thief of joy." In some cases, absolutely, I believe this desire will lead you further away from what your God has intended in your life. However, I'm not sure comparison is such a bad characteristic in many situations. Comparing myself to others is the only way I can truly gauge whether I'm making actual progress. My mimetic desire: I watch others on a screen or stage or conference room doing a presentation. I feel the audience thoroughly caught up in their words and actions, the tone and pitch of their voice. Their message has others in a trance. Just alert enough to know when the presentation is over, they will act immediately on the direction and instructions of the presenter.

I've been mesmerized by so many great presenters. It leaves me with a desire to mimic their every move, the passion, their influence. My side-by-side comparison of them only has me with a deeper desire to achieve additional greatness in my own craft.

I've found my mimic desire and entrepreneurial spirit in writing, presenting, business ownership, leading a family in my role as a dad and husband. I cannot imagine doing, daily, anything else. The reward finds itself in every aspect of the work I do, the life I lead, the balance I work to achieve. At times, I'm failing miserably at all of it. But therein remains the energy and desire to pull yourself back up and try again.

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May 14Liked by Luke Burgis

When my daughter was born I had this desire to spend 2-3 months every year in Europe. I grew up in Luxembourg City and having perspective has benefited me immensely over the course of my life.

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May 14Liked by Luke Burgis

Perhaps this is too broad, but I'm very torn between the desire to jump ship on "normie" life and travel the world for a year or so, or to double down on developing a "career" back home. For context, I'm 28 and exiting a 6-year relationship (unexpectedly), so it's a very tumultuous time generally. My job pays well and is not very demanding, but does not provide me with much intrinsic satisfaction. I've always had a strong desire to see the world as much as I can, and I have where possible over the years, but I'm really feeling a strong desire to pull the plug and just go for it right now.

On the other hand, I'm increasingly coming to the realization that having a family, "settling down," and building a strong community feel very important to me as long-term goals. Both things feel important to me and like they are part of who I am, intrinsically. But they also feel irreconcilable sometimes. Trying to discern where these desires come from for myself at least, and if they're for the "right reasons," is something I've really been struggling with as of late.

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I’m in a similar situation although just 3 years younger — I say why not both! Take a year sabbatical to go travel and then return home to double down on career and settle down.

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Thank you for the reply and input, I am increasingly leaning on that path!

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I’m happy to hear that 🙂

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+1 vote for just do it. I was in a place in my mid twenties where I enjoyed my job, but my wife and I decided to take a sabbatical (9 months in total) and traveled through much of Western Europe.

It was one of the most impactful (and enjoyable) times of both our lives and we came back with a refreshed sense of our values and how we wanted to live. I can almost guarantee it will shape you significantly, and doing that now might make you more willing to fully commit to “settling down” since you know you’ve taken time to prioritize that other side of yourself.

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Thank you, I appreciate the reply! Increasingly, as I gain more and more advice and input from others, that seems to be the perspective that I'm converging on. By honoring a part of myself that I absolutely know exists, I think there might be some discernment of what the best path forward is for me beyond that. It seems that many people who have done something similar and who know me, agree that it can be a very clarifying experience.

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One I became aware of at a young age was basketball. My best friend at the time was super into basketball, so I got pulled in by the gravity of his love for the game and started playing it. I thought I loved it. I loved it so much that I signed up to play for a team at the YMCA. And that's when I discovered:

I'm terrible at basketball. I hate basketball. I just really enjoyed being with my best friend.

Not exactly life-altering, but a minor revelation.

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Tangential question: how is mimetic desire different from covetousness?

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May 14·edited May 14

I think it's because they're different categories. Coveting is just desiring something someone else has, but the mechanism of why you covet isn't specified. Mimetic desire is wanting something largely because someone else wants it. It is the mechanism, but there are other mechanisms that could induce covetousness.

You could be covetous of somebody because they have a sandwich and you're hungry - in that case, the coveting desire is not induced by mimesis as much as hunger. Conversely, although rare, you could probably mimetically desire something because someone else desires something, but not necessarily slip into being covetous - probably because you want what they want, but neither of you has it yet.

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I realized recently that my fashion sense is strongly modeled on a beloved great uncle who was a farmer and cowboy and the coolest, calmest, and most self assured person I’ve know. But this question brings up a different question for me. As I understand Girard, ALL desire is mimetic. So the question I’ve been asking myself about nearly everything is “where did this desire come from? Who was my model for this particular desire?” And if my desires are all mimetic, then who am I? What is the self but a collection of desires borrowed from other people? Is self determination merely the ability to choose different models?

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As mimetic as I am, it is difficult to pinpoint a lot of examples that are really clear cut and aren't relatively equally influenced by my own reasoning, rational or just general peer pressure - all of which I feel like would disqualify something as a Mimetic Desire proper if they're too identifiable.

The one that comes to mind was a friend of mine who I grew up with whose mother was a globetrotting bohemian type and daughter of an overseas Ambassador, and my friend became something similar in high school and college. I remember really tormenting myself at that age because of how few capers and misadventures I had comparatively to my name than him [just general Henry Miller-type artsy scurrilous shenanigans]. I stayed where I was and he would come home periodically, see how miserable I was, and try to pump me up by encouraging me to go out, take more risks, travel more. He meant well, but he was encouraging me to pursue something that came more naturally to him and that was a mimetic desire of mine to be more like him... so needless to say, that didn't help very much.

Long story short, i became an Alcoholic, but got sober in my early 20s. With some self reflection, the help of a therapist, and some good mentors and sponsors, I was able to see clearly just how unfair and inappropriate the comparison was. But the more surprising realization to me was just how little it bothered me to stop comparing myself to him.

Part of it was that the desire to do what he did was so mimetic and unexamined, that once I shown a light on it, it was really clear that it was all stuff I couldn't really have cared less about, and that frankly would have only caused me anxiety - travelling all the time and having to figure out how to make a living and find a place to stay every 6 months are just not things I'm built to do or appreciate at all. I like routine and stability. He didn't and both are fine.

But I lived feeling like a real failure for a few years - I guess because I was so averse to living in chaos and squalor. That was largely influenced by the force of his desire for that lifestyle. It was one of the more clear cut cases of a Mimetic Desire that I can think of in my life.

Joining AA helped me tremendously in the process of moving past this by giving me a whole bunch of much better role models which to strive to imitate. I remember someone encouraging me to 'study men, not books.' and I've gotten a tremendous amount of mileage out of that concept over the years. Having solid and appropriate role models, mentors, mediators is so invaluable.

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May 14·edited May 14

Is it fair to say, that, while there is a mimetic quality to any desire, a proper "Mimetic Desire" is one in which we can confidently attribute the majority of the Desire to Mimesis [as opposed to something more Reasoned-out/worked-out-Rationally etc]?

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I haven't done yoga in years but I'm going back to the practice because I have a crush on someone at my work who just finished her training to be a yoga teacher. Combined with the limited time I have to work out and that there's a big yoga culture where I live in, and now I'm going back to the mat and practicing childs pose.

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Ive seen friends and cousins go crazy obssesing over having babys, but mainly because they want to blend with the rest of their friends and family. They arent even conscious of what it entails and or are prepared for it.

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All of our desires are mimetic, are they not? When I feel the beauty of a tree, do I desire to be it, do I want same beauty, perhaps so? When I see the beauty of a cool car, do I want it? It was love at first sight for my Jeep but not because others had it. They just looked cool to me but I also love Audis.

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I mimetically wave at people in boats, or those little tourist trains that roll around our city. However, a few days ago I had an Aperol Spritz to combat my mimetic desire to drink a G&T, It tasted good and I gave a wink to my naughty mimetic bits.

On a broader spectrum I am guilty of mimetically living this life on earth, I'm just doing it because there are a lot of other people who think it's normal too..

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