On Wanting it All
Frequently, the discussion on wanting it all is framed as a question of having it all. Elizabeth Taylor once said, "It's not the having, it's the getting," and I think there's a lot to that because it shifts the focus from the destination to the journey, from the attainment to the pursuit. So, rather than ask can we have it all, I often wonder, in the first place: should we want it all?
Although the concept of wanting more could be viewed as tangential to our relationship with fashion, the psychology of desire, which is at the root of wanting more, intimately shapes our approach to getting dressed. We want to look a certain way, to feel a certain way, to project a certain image, to make a certain mark. So perhaps getting better acquainted with how and why we desire can help us get better acquainted with how and why we dress.
Yet, desire is a complicated facet of the human experience. It can be the driver of great human endeavor, or it can threaten human progress. In the face of consumerism, modulating desire is particularly challenging because it's exponentially easier to fulfill material desires than it is to recognize that what we need fulfilled is actually non-material.
As I work to disentangle my relationship with fashion from consumption, I keep coming back to my understanding of the psychology of desire, which has forced me to confront my own feelings on wanting it all. Not from the perspective of stuff, but from that of spirit. The good news is: we're not alone in wanting it all (see below). The question becomes can we learn to consciously navigate that desire and fulfill it appropriately?
“I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish…You see, it is difficult to get all which I want.”
- Simone De Beauvoir
“I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn't mean anything? What then?”
- Neil Gaiman in Coraline
“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
- E.B. White
Images: High speed photographs of ink in water by Alberto Seveso