My Deal-Me-In Challenge has been going the way of my other challenges this year, but I thought with a few months left in the year, I might try to resurrect it and at least finish well. We'll see .... In any case, I drew the queen of Spades, which gave me an essay entitled, What I Demand of Life by Frank Swinnerton.
At the age of 40, Swinnerton is evaluating his life: what he has experienced and musing on the years to come. While men can be failures in a number of ways, few fail from aiming too high, yet many aim amiss or do not aim at all and are like parasites on others. These men should be pitied. Swinnerton then lists things he does not want:
- a life of gaiety
- innumerable acquaintances
- people to sing "for he's a jolly good fellow"
Now we get to the title. What does Swinnerton demand of life?
- moderate security
- affections of those dear to him
- some leisure
Swinnerton is advocating a life of modest means.
"That is the whole point. No man can be satisfied with his attainment, although he may be satisfied with his circumstances ...... I have been returning thanks to good fortune. I have been betraying perhaps, a readiness to be pleased with small results."
Swinnerton does not have lofty ambitions but only wishes to live the remainder of his life in enjoyment, immune from hardship.
"I do not demand to be happy, because I expect --- on a basis of experience --- to be happy. Is not happiness the most satisfactory of all possessions? .... when I come to die I shall be able --- in spirit at least --- to repeat the memorable last words of William Hazlitt ..... 'Well, I've had a happy life.' Which of us --- uncertain travellers as we are upon uncharted ways --- can ask to say more? Not I."
While I found Swinnerton's modest desires and thoughtful life philosophy interesting, I cannot say his expectations were particularly realistic. Could he really be happy simply on expectation? Could he avoid hardship because he had already experienced it and was therefore immune to it? Could his moderate philosophy really bring happiness?
I supposed the fewer expectations we have, the less chance of being disappointed. There is something to be said for appreciating our lives as they are. However, I'm not certain if I am in complete agreement with Swinnerton's approach to life. What about you? Is it better to accept mediocrity and be happy or to strive for higher ideals and perhaps encounter more dissatisfaction and strife but also maybe experience more intense joy and satisfaction?
Deal Me In Challenge 2018 #2 ~ Queen of Spades