Despair implies a knowledge that there is something better we are not achieving.
Despair is longing.
Despair is hope.
My Coworkers: What do you miss about California, Dawson?
Me: That everyone is supremely unhappy.
My Coworkers: Huh?
I was thinking about something involving despair and hope (prompted by my ever present Twitter folks: “Proving through melody that despair is a form of hope”) and the three lines at the beginning of this appeared in my Notebook o’ Ideas, followed by an amusing conversation with my co-workers in which I tried to explain what I miss about California.
There is a unique brand of beauty to being with people who strive to achieve great things, even in the face of almost certain knowledge they won’t succeed. I come from a place where I had a group of friends who were never satisfied with the status quo, they fought like soldiers in the last days of the Apocalypse to achieve great things, important, life-changing things: art and change, politics, love and friendship, it all tied up together in these intricate patterns of life. And maybe we were just young, maybe nothing is really good about those things, maybe I’m romanticizing my youth, but I miss the passion of it.
Where I live now, people’s reaction to passion is so…disturbing to me. Some people settle for staring in bemusement when confronted with a persons passion for something (people, art, politics, the topic doesn’t matter, just passion). But I have seen many, many people avert their eyes, as though passion is somehow obscene or unseemly. And that baffles me, because I think passion is beautiful. Complex, frightening, sometimes frustrating, but beautiful.
I’m not knocking the quiet life of the Midwest. I’ve met many people who’s only goal is to live the scripted life: go to college on mom’s/dad’s dime, get a good corporate job, find the man/woman of their dreams, have kids, settle down. And nothing more is expected. It’s a beautifully simple way to live.
But I discovered something: I don’t fit in that script. My character is all wrong for the story-line. I’m the kind of guy who stays up all night reading a book and writing a review of it, despite having work the next day. I’m the kind of guy who can sit in a coffee shop and talk for hours about life: how it is, how it should be, how we can save the world if we just care a little more. I am historically unreliable and I know it, following my passions where ever they lead me. Recently, I’ve tried taking stability over passion and it just hasn’t worked out.
So here’s my resolve: To live passionately. To care so much it hurts. To strive for things that are just out of my reach. To be more than I was yesterday. To do what I love, whatever that may cost. This may leave me isolated for now, but I’ll continue to actively seek out like-minded individuals.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that passion, hope, and despair are all better when experienced with friends.