About Desperation

The day before St. Valentine’s Day is informally celebrated as Desperation Day. This “holiday” is mainly reserved for people who are unpartnered and are unhappy about that situation because they desire a date for Valentine’s Day. The reason for having Desperation Day is obvious.

It’s difficult to ignore the hype and promotion of Valentine’s Day. After all, it’s been promoted as a marketing tool for retailers, specifically luxury goods sellers, since New Year’s Day. What better way to stir the desire to give the gift of diamond jewelry than to touch the heartstrings of people pondering marriage or wishing to commemorate an anniversary of an existing marriage?

Even if we don’t want to or cannot afford to give a diamond bauble or a glitzy night on the town, we are told that a fancy box of candy and a greeting card will please our significant other.

We are being played. If we feel lack regarding our romantic lives, we are easy prey. Even if we deny having yearnings for a partner, those instincts are still present within us. At some level, we will still be vulnerable because social norms are very difficult to ignore. Those of us who feel the chill of lack the strongest are desperate for romance.

We can make light of desperation and enjoy stand-up comedians as they pan it; or, we can contemplate desperation and analyze it.

If we dig deeper into desperation we may discover that it has something to do with ego gratification or filling a deep need. We ask the existential questions, “Am I living a good life?” We might feel anxious about the shortness of life. “Shouldn’t I have a loving husband or a devoted wife at this stage of my life?”

The word “desperation” is a very old word. Its root is the ancient Latin “desperationem” (the nominative form of “desperatio”). Desperation is an active noun that means the loss of hope or the state of despair. Desperation is universal across humanity and much of the animal kingdom.

Desperation is a fuel that drives us to have something or to do something. Unsatisfied desperation can drive us crazy if we allow it to do so. Very desperate people lose their sense of propriety, commit crime, and sometimes die because of it. To manipulate people’s desperation is unscrupulous, but it happens every day, anyway.

The gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” causes a great number of people to feel powerless. Extreme desperation causes extremism. The agony and pain of extreme desperation leads to terrorism. To exclude people from society can ultimately lead to the downfall of that society.

When feelings of lack appear in our minds, it is wise to examine them. How do we feel about ourselves? If we impulsively, mindlessly want to act out of a sense of desperation, it’s time to apply the brakes.

If a person approaches the state of desperation mindfully and positively she or he can create something beautiful from the pain. Some of our most touching music, literature, and works of art were created by channeling the artist’s desperation. Have you ever noticed that a large share of popular music is about heartbreak, or unrequited love? Much of the greatest literature revolves around human feelings of lack and desperation. It’s been said that great works require inspiration, perspiration, and desperation.

If we wisely exploit our own feelings of desperation we can find hope and solidarity.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor, musician, writer Henry Rollins. “Weakness is what brings ignorance, cheapness, racism, homophobia, desperation, cruelty, brutality–all these things that will keep a society chained to the ground, one foot nailed to the floor.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, cultural highlights, Meanderings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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