dirk gently's holistic detective agency

Decisions in Desperation

I was saddened to hear my latest Netflix binge show is not getting a third season. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is based on the 1987 novels by Douglas Adams.  The show was well written and acted and was loaded with the geeky humor I love. What I also loved was the deeper messages the show conveyed.

In the first episode, Dirk tells his reluctant new assistant Todd, “You’ve been making choices out of desperation for too long, that much is obvious. You’re backing yourself into a corner. Break the pattern. Take control of your life, Todd. The instant you take control, interesting things will happen. I guarantee it.”

dirk gently's holistic detective agency

Many times in my life I made choices out of desperation. I was living in a reactionary state. I didn’t think I had a choice or didn’t think I had the power to act on my own choice. So instead I moved through life based on what came to me or what others wanted. I wouldn’t act until the pain was great enough to force me into action. Like the old saying, it had to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I would accept more and more and more of what I didn’t want because I felt afraid to act. I felt powerless. I didn’t know or accept that I had power to create my life. The result is that by the time I acted, I was just protecting myself against all the crap I took on instead of consciously moving into what I wanted.

When I completed college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no direction. I was accepted into graduate school for theatrical directing, so I went. It was not a choice. It was an act of desperation. I didn’t know what else to do so I went where I was accepted. It was an honor to be in the program, but it was not my passion. It was not my life purpose. After one year, the school realized this as well and kicked me out. I could have moved home afterward. I could have resigned myself and acted out of desperation yet again, but for some reason I didn’t this time.

I chose to stay in Los Angeles. I had no safety net. I had no real job. I had only a temporary residence. In college I had wanted to try skydiving and my experience in California was that same terrifying exhilaration of free-falling I assume skydiving is. Because I had nothing else, I had to begin to create for myself. I found my way. I made some bad choices and wrong turns, but for once, I was the one walking the path. I didn’t follow anyone else. I didn’t react. I chose. I acted. I created. I started accepting my power. I began to take control of my life. I began to define and move toward what I wanted. And as Dirk predicted, interesting things did begin to happen.

Do you act out of choice or desperation? Are you choosing your life or letting it be chosen for you? Are you ready to begin taking control of your experience?

Comments (4)

  1. Debra Wakefield
    July 10, 2018

    Melissa, once again you hit the target. This has been where I’ve been for a very long time, after moving to Northern California where I’ve spent years taking care of my disabled mother and supporting my husband’s dreams. I had spent many vital years forging my own path in NYC and elsewhere, and in moving here I became completely lost in fulfilling other people’s needs and goals. The desperation has been overwhelming as I submitted to what I felt was necessary to do at the time but has left me totally “in the red” regarding my personal needs and well-being. My mother has passed, and I’m getting very clear with my husband that I’m done prioritizing everyone else’s needs and goals. Besides just my gaping personal fulfillment, I must make an income to afford my imminent senior years. I’ve been in a state of terror, desperation, and despair for a long time, feeling sorry for myself as I age out of what society wants so much from us – youth and beauty (and a big dose of naiveté). As a friend of mine says, I’ve been “doing a lot more crying than trying.” Orienting myself to feel I have power over my life and circumstances, even in a city that I have no professional existence in, is taking a major rethink. – Thank you so much for your newsletters, Melissa! I always get good things from your sharing and wisdom, and this one is very much about ‘where I am.’ And I like Dirk’s quote! It spurs me onward, as do you! Thank you for being there for us, Melissa! All best, Debra

    • Melissa Heisler
      July 10, 2018

      Debra, Thank you so much for sharing. I am sure so many readers will resonate with your experience of putting others before themselves. It is noble to give, but we can’t give all of ourselves. So proud that you are communicating your needs with your loved ones. Some will understand. Some won’t. You are only responsible for your needs not their reactions. Love the phrase “doing a lot more crying than trying.” I actually spoke to a client today who is stuck in that syndrome. If your friend would allow me to use her phrase, I would love to write about it to help others release the self-pity and take charge of their lives. You have the power to create your life, no matter where you are. Take control of it and miracles will follow. So glad my words have reached you at a time to help propel you forward. Keep us informed of your journey. Blessings!

  2. Carolina G.
    February 20, 2019

    I’m so glad to found this!!
    I knew that I was not the only one to have resonated with that episode!!
    at this moment in my life I appreciate finding this article..
    kindest regards from México!! 😀

    • Melissa Heisler
      February 20, 2019

      Carolina – Hola! I am so glad you found this article too. The series had so many interesting thoughts interspersed with divine sillyness. Sorry it is not getting another season.

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