“Desire is Full of Endless Distances”

from Seth’s Blog

Just one more level on this game, she says. Once I get to level 68, I’ll be done.

Just one more tweak to the car, they beg. Once we bump up the mileage, we’ll be done.

Just one more lotion, she asks. Once I put that on, my skin will be perfect and I’ll be done.

Of course, the result isn’t the point. The mileage or the ranking or slightly more alabaster or ebony isn’t the point. The point is the longing.

Desire can’t be sated, because if it is, the longing disappears and then we’ve failed, because desire is the state we seek.

We’ve expanded our desire for ever more human connection into a never-ceasing parade of physical and social desires as well. Amplified by marketers and enabled by commerce, we race down the endless road faster and faster, at greater and greater expense. The worst thing of all would be if we actually arrived at perfect, because if we did, we would extinguish the very thing that drives us.

We want the wanting.

More here.

9 Responses to “Desire is Full of Endless Distances”

  1. Lauren Hall February 20, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    Desire, everyone has it. It is what forces you to get up in the morning and get your day started. It is what causes you to do everything that you do. But is there such a thing as too much desire? I believe there is such a thing. Now a day’s people always want more. Everyone thinks more is better. Whether we want the next new thing or to get the job that pays the highest everyone wants more. While having the best things such as the newest iPhone or having a lot of money are nice I believe people’s desire can lead to greed and cause people to forget what is actually important in life.

    I think today it is very easy for people to get caught up in always “needing” something more. I feel this way because that is the type of society we are growing up in. People base status and judge people upon what types of things they have. While that sounds really bad that’s how things are and it is sad. Because of this people get too caught up on the little things in life such as the newest things or money that they forget what really is important such as family or friendships.

    On the other hand desire can be a good thing. Desire causes people to work hard so that they can reach their goals. As an athlete I always have the desire to win. Unfortunately that does not always happen but the desire to win for me and my team is what continues to push us to work our hardest. Without desire I do not think people would be able to reach their goals or be the best they can be because I feel desire is what pushes you internally.

  2. L.E. Baron KJP February 20, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Desire. In the grand scheme of what makes humanity tick, desire has to be one of the main wheels, the one that makes the others spin. After all, what is the purpose if we have no desire, nothing to strive for? It is one thing that I realized long ago, something that came up many times in my religion class, Search for Happiness. What makes acquiring an object or reaching a state so dear is the road taken to get there. This is where all the “fun” lies. Once Timmy finally got that new iPhone for Christmas, and the iPad for his birthday, and the MacBook for graduation, what else was there? Timmy’s need was satisfied, and suddenly he was not enjoying it as much as he was thinking “what’s next?” This is the constant state that we are on, which is remarkably similar to computers. Maybe we all have an inner robot after all. With the goal in mind, we do our best to achieve it as fast as possible…and move on to something new.
    I notice this in almost everything I do. Reach a PR during my race, begin to think about the next one. Unlock this cool armor in the game, automatically thinking of the next one. And so it goes. One thing that I make sure to do however, is enjoy the path that I take to get there. After all, the thing one remembers the most is not necessarily when one gets somewhere, but how. When did I qualify for Nationals the first time? I have no clue. How much I improved to get to that point, that I definitely remember. Also, I make sure that when I do reach a goal/acquire a new shiny toy, I don’t immediately take it for granted. I have seen it with friends, who get their parents to buy them something expensive and mistreat it because it is no longer as important. The key here is to keep this desire positive, and make it healthy. For example, I have the constant desire to better myself. Not because I want to be better than everybody else (or do I), but for myself. Being the best that I can be is a healthy goal to strive for, and it will make sure I do not remain stagnant. We cannot satisfy desire, but this is something to be glad about. After all, what would become of us if we no longer had purpose? That is what keeps us alive, and we should make the best of it!

  3. Kevin Giron May 1, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    This is an excellent article. The desire in us can never be satisfied. I remember when I was younger I would go outside and play street hockey with my older brother and his friends. Eventually everyone would leave and it would only be my brother and I. He would always want to go inside and eat or shower but I always wanted to stay out longer, I would always ask him to play for 10 more minutes. Even when the day was over i couldn’t wait to play the next day, the desire in me just kept wanting to play and improve.

    I agree with Seth to an extent when he says that the worst thing in the world would be if we ever arrived at being perfect. I think the worst thing in the world would be when everyone becomes satisfied. Being satisfied in any type of setting, in school you can be satisfied getting a B in your courses, being a manger at work, playing in the minor leagues. Becoming satisfied with our lives would extinguish the very thing that drives us.

  4. Joseph Keppler May 1, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    I thought that this article was very interesting. It talks about what people desire is what essentially keeps them going. When ever people desire something or want something they are doing it because they think that this product or material will make them better. The article talks about people not being happy with what they currently have an that is an aspect of humanity that makes us unique. When people think of the word desire they normally associate it with a negative connotation. However it is not always bad and an essential part of humanity.

    When ever people find something that they want they want it because in some way it is going to enhance them. People would not desire things if they knew that they were going to hurt them in some way or they were going to negatively affect them in some way. I think that desiring something is a great thing. It shows that we always want to get better and it doesn’t make us complacent.

    I think that this article and how it relates to the word desire is similar to the word hope. When people no longer have hope what is there to work for? The concept of desire is exactly the same way. When people stop wanting to improve either themselves or their life then there is not point of doing anything any more. The hunger in us to better ourselves is what makes many of us get up every day. The word desire has to get a better understanding by people and maybe less people will think that it is bad.

  5. Alex Vovk October 22, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    In his blog post “Desire is full of endless distances”, Seth Godin states that we, as a society, are driven by the never-ending desire. The object of this desire is not important, what’s important is the continuous state of longing, the endless pursuit. I agree with the author’s thesis in general, but I wish that he would clarify his observations a little better. If the thesis of Seth Godin’s post is taken as a commentary on the state of contemporary American society, with its emphasis on commercialism and superficiality, then the views expressed in the article agree with mine. Without a doubt, we as people are very materialistic, driven by the impulses, constantly bombarded and brainwashed by commercials on TV, radio, magazines, and on the internet, always craving the newest car, the latest electronic device, whether we actually need it or not. I don’t know if this is uniquely American characteristic or if the same is true for people in China, Japan, India, Russia, or Australia. Without the first-hand experience or knowledge of whether other societies follow the same pattern, I can’t say if what the author of the post describes is universal or not. I suspect not, because people in many other cultures are brought up with drastically different outlook on what is important in life, what is worthwhile to pursue, what their goals should be, and how to go about achieving these goals. I may be stereotyping and generalizing, but then so does Seth Godin.

    There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, to crave something, a thing, a feeling, an idea, a state of mind. It can inspire us, it can change our lives, force us to set realistic goals for ourselves, make us develop a plan for how to achieve whatever it is we want. As long as the pursuit doesn’t become an unhealthy obsession that consumes us and affects other important aspects of our lives, the focus on achieving the goal can be good and beneficial. If we can develop a strategy, resolve to work hard and give it our best effort, the desire as a motivation and a driving force is perfectly fine.

    Wanting for the sake of wanting, without the goal in mind, without the effort to get to the finish line can be damaging, I think. It is similar to a New Year’s resolution, when we all make promises to improve ourselves, become healthier, smarter, nicer, better. Then, as the days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and we don’t do anything to actually make an effort and follow through, our best intentions remain just intentions and we realize that we are failing. So is with the never-ending desires. They can eventually lead to the same feelings of failure, because, and this is Seth Godin’s main point, the desire itself is a state that we seek, not necessarily the fulfillment of the desire.

    Going back to my previous point where I was wondering if wanting for the sake of wanting is a universal trait or mainly American, I can’t help thinking about how lucky, or maybe how spoiled, we are in this country that we seem to never be satisfied with what we have, that we have the luxury to want more and more. When I see on TV or read in the news of the hardships people in other countries go through, of the wars and violence that destroy people’s homes, their dreams, and their lives, I often feel ashamed and guilty. Ashamed because when I realize that instead of appreciating what I have, and I’m not talking only about possessions, very often I lose sense of what is important in life and fall into the same pattern of endless wanting Seth Godin was talking about.


  6. Caroline Massa April 6, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

    Seth Godin’s article “Desire is full of endless distances” describes the need for people to be constantly in search of the next best thing. The beauty and fashion industry has always been popular especially for women, because of their endless desire and appreciation of beauty. Statistically, there is more money spent on beauty products than ever before in history. TV, the internet and magazines remind us everyday of the products and clothes that can make a difference in not only our looks but happiness, success and well being. We live in a society that values youth and beauty and as a result it is difficult to not be interested in looking one’s best. Today there are many products on the market and when one does not fulfill its promise, then it is on to the next. Cosmetic surgery is at an all time high as people desire to look younger and improve upon their looks. While some may take it to the extreme there are many who use it to simply feel better and more comfortable with how they look. Godin’s line “the worst thing of all would be if we actually arrived at perfect, because if we did, we would extinguish the very thing that drives us” is very accurate. It is good for people to continue to want to look their best and be interested in staying young and healthy. It is inspiring and motivates people to keep exercising and staying committed to a healthy life style.

    Godin’s message is that it is a positive thing that people continue to strive for perfection. Without this need then people might get complacent, with nothing to look forward to or enjoy. Godin is basically saying without the will or desire for new experiences or improvement then one simply loses interest as “we all want the wanting.” Without it then people would not want to improve their life, skills or desire to learn new things. This not only rings true of youth and beauty, but also for older people who need to remain active. For many people there comes a time in their life where they accept their age, looks or poor health and this can lead to them disengaging from a healthy life style. Once this happens it can affect their health because nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation plays a huge role in physical as well as psychological well being . Older people often do not feel well or suffer from problems that make exercising painful and therefore they stop doing it. The problem is that not pushing yourself can result in worse problems that can bring on sickness. Not accepting old age is good because it causes people to challenge themselves to seek out new experiences and socialize with family and friends. I believe the most healthy are those who remain engaged in life and even when they do not always feel their best they still try to be active. Once people reach the point where they do not have hope of living a healthy and positive life style, regardless of age their happiness and health can be in jeopardy.

    It is in our nature to keep wanting to do and look our best and this is a good thing. It motivates us to keep trying and this is healthy for both the body and mind. Without the desire to keep seeking new things and experiences, people might lose their ability to find joy in their world. Optimism and a desire to to keep seeking is what gets many people out of bed in the morning because as Godin says, “desire is the state we seek.”

  7. Matthew R Ponsiglione May 1, 2017 at 2:57 am #

    The human mind works in mysterious ways and one of the ways it works is when it comes to wanting things. The human mind is always striving for more, telling itself it needs something better and that it can never be satisfied. Godin uses a video game example and says, “Once I get to level 68, I’ll be done”. Once level 68 is reached the satisfaction is not there and you shut the video game off and wonder to yourself why you are not satisfied with the performance you just put on. Then you find yourself lying in bed already thinking about what level 68 might actually be like, and about how great it will be to reach level 70. All the desires we have in our minds are self-implemented and once you reach those desires you simply find yourself wanting more. The desire itself is what brings us to do certain things, because if there was no desire to achieve something the action would never get performed. Many businesses do this to you and you may not even realize it. Phone companies will tell you about how their new plan just made prices lower than ever before and their internet speed is faster too. You see this and you decide you want it, you need it. You finally get this new phone plan with faster internet and the first thing you see on television is your old phone provider with even cheaper prices and even faster internet. Leaving you in the dust because you tell yourself you deserve the best there is so you go out and switch back to your original provider. This process continues because businesses are always looking for ways to attract new customers and making themselves appealing to the public will easily bring in consumers. We tell ourselves we deserve the best, that everything we have should be perfect, and then we achieve what we think is the best and perfect and find out we can do better. If you go about life like this you will never get anything done. If you go through life telling yourself you deserve the best you will never get the best. One of the reasons for this is that if you are someone who thinks they deserve the best, odds are you have had things handed to you your whole life and you have done nothing to deserve that. People willing to give away the best and settle for something else are the people who deserve the best. These humble people take away their own opportunity for something good in order to give it to someone else, even if it may be someone who doesn’t deserve it. These are the types of people the world is missing and if more people were like this there would be more people that can fulfill their desires. This is something I am longing for and when something like is achieved, if ever achieved I can guarantee I will find something wrong and plead for a change just as I am doing right now. The reason for this being that we can never be satisfied, we will always find a way to tell ourselves there is something better out there.

  8. Zachary Crockett November 22, 2019 at 6:34 pm #

    “Desire is full of endless distances.” As I conclude the short but plentiful article, I have begun to question my “why.” As well as, what drives me to do such tasks. And as I sit here behind this computer, I ponder and struggle to surmise and come up with a sufficient comment. I believe many others have this issue when dealing with the depths of coursework that are slapped upon us because where is the desire? Some may proclaim in the degree we may receive at the end of all of this, but that is asking a lot without the short term desire being fulfilled. For as Seth concludes his assertion of the endless distances desire may achieve, he proclaims to the reader that the worst thing would be to actually achieve the desire, a sort of perfection; once this is achieved, what, more can we long for? It is not the destination that most drives us, but the desire amidst the destination that makes us humans feel the indescribable. What I would love to surmise, is to keep the destination alive; without a fight and constant struggle, life just becomes bland, for there is nothing left to complete and strive forth.

  9. Samuel Kihuguru November 22, 2019 at 10:33 pm #

    “We want the wanting.” Seth’s Blog paints an intriguing reality to the pursuit of life that has become an intertwined phenomena for every one who moves purposefully. Aesop captures the idea of ambition in several of his fables. The one that comes to mind of course is that of the dog who had a bone in mouth, but after looking at his reflection in a river (another dog with a bone “bigger” than his), he jumps for the bigger bone and loses it to the tide. The first portion of this fable tells of the pursuit of life. As human beings who have no widely accepted sense of why we exist or what our purpose in life is, we have therefore constructed standards of achievement and indicators of success in our education systems, our work life, our home management, our relationships, our social interactions and our self identity that attempt to define what we should live for. The pursuit of ambition is endless. Seth paints perfection as a dead-end, and that is exactly what it is. We do not look to perfection as the end in and of itself; it is the goal of perfection that we rely on as a unattainable standard that we must continue to strive towards. This has become the agenda of the human condition.

    If that be the next bottle of lotion for our self-care, the next extravagant summer trip, the next person who can fit our idea of perfection in a relationship, the next semester pursuing a 4.0….the question we must pose for ourselves is how we define our purpose. Often I find that these little obsessions are covers from time I would take to explore who I am and how i define my own purpose.

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