You’re not supposed to give people what they want, you’re supposed to give them what they don’t know that they want yet.
— Diana Vreeland
Humans need echoes. We need to cast all of our stuff into the world and then see which of us comes back to us. It is the world that sorts out our stuff into resonant and boring, the world which gives back the gifts that stimulate and engage other people. Without that feedback it is hard to get a sense of what you have that people don’t yet know they want.
That doesn’t mean, as Ms. Vreeland notes, that market testing for what people know they want is a good or useful plan. Who knew that they wanted a smartphone before they even understood what they were? Someone has to hold the vision, commit to the new and different.
I share in a vacuum, though, a kind of anechoic chamber where almost nothing comes back to me. It is a tough place to feel reflected. While it very much helps me hear my own voice, it does not feel like a safe space for tears, for joy, for dancing.
People get a little crazy when they are sealed in an anechoic chamber, without echos. The record time inside is said to be only 45 minutes.
My challenge isn’t a lack of noise in my life, for I get opportunities to reflect others, get media.
I know how to speak in a way that echoes back. I understand the advice.
You have to meet the people where they are.
People aren’t going to come to you, aren’t going to find you out of the mist, aren’t going to leap to meet you. You need to develop relationships with people and let the networks develop, let the image of you in the world flower, grow.
If you want to be seen, you have to be on their wavelength. Vibrate too high or too low and you are just part of the background noise.
People have to believe that you hear them before they can ever start to hear you.
I know, I know, I know that if I just do what others want and only what they want, just service them, just take care of them that they will like that. Of this, I have no doubt.
I do doubt, however, that doing that will get me anything that I need or want. Meeting people where they are means leaving where I am, means modulating, attenuating, slicing, packaging. It means entering their world.
My challenge is a lack of echoing back of my own voice, the kind of feedback that clarifies, strengthens and cleans my own swirling & declining energies.
There is a new movie out called “Take Care,” written by Liz Tuccillo, which is a romantic fable — a “chick flick” — that asks the question “Who cares for the caregivers?” Frannie needs caretaking after a being hit by a car. She took care of ex-boyfriend Devon for two years while he went through cancer treatment so when her friends & family can’t really be there to care for her, she guilts him into taking care of her.
While the movie takes a conventional trajectory, reminding the leads and the audience that intimate connection is the foundation of relationships, it satisfies as a fantasia for so many caretakers who dream that somehow, they will get taken care of too.
Frannie lost a tooth because she put off her own dental care for him. Others have lost more than that.
When do I get to be weak, when do I get to be angry, when do I get to be sad, when do I get to be in pain, when do I get to be scared, when do I get to be crazy? “Can’t you just do that on your own?” I hear people saying. I feel like I have proven that I cannot, and not for lack of trying.
When do I get to hear my own echoes?