“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation,” - Thoreau.
Why do people lead lives of desperation? What are we desperate for? What do we want? What are our desires?
I think our desires, I think our desperations, give us a reason to live. I think if you cultivate that desperation, if you manage it and direct it, it will become productive.
I think our society overwhelms us with cheap antidotes to our desperation that are not worth the price. I think we sacrifice too much of our long term potential for short-term gratification.
I think we should acknowledge freely that much of our lives is spent in a state of desperation, but I think this desperation, this longing, can lead us to produce acts of beauty and kindness.
I think this desperation can leads us to be empathetic. It can also lead us to be single-minded and selfish.
We are nearly always desperate: so what are we going to do about it?
I think society refuses to acknowledge our desperation. It doesn’t sell. It’s not glamorous.
It’s been said that the truth will set you free. Perhaps, but more likely: the truth will set you adrift. But is that such a bad thing - isn’t that what freedom means? Isn’t that what freedom is – bearing some responsibility to set your own course?
Our desperation is our reason for being. Our quest for truth is our reason for knowledge: its absence compels us to find it.
When we don’t have something, that’s when we want it. If we never lacked, we would never have the joy of finding anything. Of course, if we never lacked, maybe we would have a different joy. It all depends upon whether we can appreciate what we have and where we are. If we didn’t lack, but could still appreciate our condition somehow, I don’t think we would be worse off.
Yes, we’re so desperate and gullible and afraid. That’s why advertising and propaganda succeed.
Yet it brings us together, and it tears us apart. We’re all desperate and gullible and afraid.
We all lack – we all find. It brings us together.
Quiet desperation is chronically undervalued – it’s used as a slur. It’s used as the symbol of the mid-life crisis. Life is crisis – life is change – life is transience. Why can’t we recognize and accept this?
We should accept nothing less than lives of quiet desperation.
Desperation is the basis for action – I think Thoreau wants us to be active. I don’t think he’s maligning the act of desperation so much as he is saying that it is not all that is necessary – that there is more to it than that.
If all we did was stay in the state of desperation, we will fail. That is what I believe he is trying to say, and I agree with that.
We can’t just experience desperation; we’ve also got to act. But our desperation can serve as our foundation for our actions.
But what kind of foundation are we building? Exactly what do we desire and why?
Most of our lives are not built on a strong foundation. What kind of desperation are we dealing with?
There are many corrosive desperations: fear and paranoia abound.
You can never be sure where you are. Sometimes, you do something with the best of intentions and it turns out horribly wrong.
If we never think about our desperations, and we leave them alone, then everything else that we do will be worse, because our desperations are what lie at the beginning of everything. We must check ourselves and our desperations because they are the foundation of everything we do.
We must ensure that our desperation is used for the benefit of others and not for ourselves alone.