Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Slavery of Desperation and the Art of Surrender

Once upon a time, there was a man accused of a crime. When he was released on bail, he violated terms by acting erratic, compulsive and foolish. When asked why he would do such a thing, he responded, I was DESPERATE. It was evident that his desperation had enslaved his own free will, an enslavement that incarcerated his body. His desperation caused him to gamble with his life. Risk loosing his family. His livelihood. Desperation in and of itself is only a human emotion, but often, too often, it manifests itself in action.

I don't like desperation too much. Not the kind that has spurred the escape of slaves, the fight of South Africans fighting Apartheid, or compelled Anne Frank to stay alive and pen her memoirs. I'm talking about the kind that has time after time, made a fool of people that I love dearly. You see, when we act out of desperation we risk what we cannot afford to. Let's face it, desperation would probably sell it's grandma for a buck. Everything beneath it is just motivation for the cause.

Often, we equate desperation with passion, believing that any cause worth fighting for requires a desperate state of mind. Frankly, I'd say that a desperate state of mind is quite dangerous and often ends in tragedy. In saying that I find it disheartening when people say that they are desperate to achieve something. Getting a certain job, finding a certain mate, seeing their name in lights. I'm sure that anyone who has traveled the highways and byways of desperation call tell tales unfathomable to most people. Desperation, I think, brings out the worst in us. Or as Kanye says, makes "the prettiest people do the ugliest things, on the road to riches and diamond rings"
It poisons that which is good about us, perverting it into a drive that pushes us past decency.

But desperation is STRONG. Why? Strong because it borrows its strength from good intention. Borrowing strength, as I've learned from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, only makes us weaker in the long run. (Let me give you a hint. Our weaker, more shameful selves are usually left in the aftermath of desperation.) What's funny/scary is that we start out doing something that we really believe in, or opposing injustice, or chasing a dream, or, dare I say, changing the world. Somehow it becomes a beast all its own.

I both reflect and write about such a topic because we are in desperate times. Doesn't CNN remind you everyday? People who have are fighting, scheming, cheating to keep it, and those who have not, are still caught the the crosshairs of the beast known as social climbing. Desperation is the name of the game. So, what do we do instead? Rise above? Much harder than it sounds. Fall prey to this thing called desperation and let it eat at us? Certainly not. I can only propose this. Surrender. Come out with your hands up. Not because you are a punk or a quittter. Because you are a STANDard, therefore you must HAVE STANDards. Desperation =compromise. Surrender is recognizing the lure of desperation and putting your hands up before you get your hands cuffed. Feel me? Whether it's surrender of the religious variety or a self soothing of sorts, the art of such surrender involves (you'll like this) a retention of dignity, a firm resolute mind, STANDARDS, and a road map that will help you navigate life, avoiding the the dark alleys, potholes and quicksand know as desperation. This type of surrender makes us strong because it uncovers that thing in us that won't trade self respect for a meal ticket. That thing that wild ambition can't cover.

So, The next time life traps us in a corner or reaching for the stars seems a farther stretch than you had ever imagined, look at your options. Weigh them soundly. Get mad, get tough, get smart. But please, please, please, please, don't get DESPERATE.

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