Art, process and design blog of an aspiring industrial designer.

Archive for November, 2012

Empathy: Desperation

(Images: Mick Jagger portrait Exposed Bryan Adams here // Nabil Elderkin here // Miuccia Prada (photographer unknown) here )

Desperation, I think, is one of the most dynamic states-of-being or emotions we, as humans, can have.  Its so interesting because its so revered on some level, but it is also such a terrible place to be.  Famous or great people always talk about how they were absolutely so desperate – financially, emotionally, physically – and that was the turning point, that is the catalyst that made things change, or made them change themselves.  That great lift of internal force.  But to get to that state, or at least while you are in that state, it is one of the most tragic states-of-being for sure.  To me, it means that your entire self, being is up for grabs.  It also means you will take or give absolutely anything.  People are desperate for love – a love that has been lost, or a love that has not come , people are desperate for money, for shelter, for attention, for fame, for food, for a situation or for a situation to end.  Being so, so vulnerable is quite literally the definition of real desperation.  And it is because of this that greatness or achievement can come of it.  It is when you have nothing else, but to give your actual self.

Really, greatness and grand change always comes from desperation – it is a non-mutually exclusive necessity.  It means that to be successful, you must be desperate on some level (or lucky, of course), but it also means that if you are desperate  you will not always necessarily end in greatness.  This adds such a realness, and an additional layer to the tragedy of this.

In desperation there is no filter, because there is nothing left but the desperation and the need and the desire.  You are pure focus, and what a powerful thing that is.  Desperation is the rain and the long, grey dry spell afterwards.  As a ‘young’ person, I know that nowadays, if a guy asks for a woman’s phone number, and calls her too soon after receiving it, he is seen as ‘desperate’.  And that is a bad thing, because it means that no one has wanted him for so long, that he has become desperate to have connection and love and sex.  But remember boys and everyone, it can go two ways.  Desperation, if you are desperate, is not always a bad thing.  Use your desparation as a hidden unexpected power that you did not know to articulate or that you had.  Applying it is the one real power to getting what you need.  Use it to love and to go extra miles, and kilometers and mountains farther, let it be your constant unrelenting push when your feet are sore and your hair hurts and your teeth are itchy and you are so tired.  Greatness comes from total desperation.

(Images: photographer Lee Jeffries here // drawing of Lauren Bacall here )

[This post was inspired by an episode of Design Matters by Debbie Millman, with  guest Chris Ware]

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