What I Demand of Life by Frank Swinnerton

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:

  1. money
  2. fame
  3. a life of gaiety
  4. possessions
  5. innumerable acquaintances
  6. contentment
  7. people to sing “for he’s a jolly good fellow”

Wealth has no value and breeds insincere friends.  Fame lacks privacy, brings judgement and breeds pomposity and tyrants.  Poverty gave Swinnerton a good spirit and he was able to land a job with a publish company, J.M Dent and Co., a job which honed his insights into human character.  He realized his dreams about living in a cottage, writing “goodish” novels and marrying for love.  He has good friends, the best, in fact, a good nature and because he is not labelled among the popular authors, is able to write what he wants.

Now we get to the title.  What does Swinnerton demand of life?

  1. health
  2. privacy
  3. moderate security
  4. affections of those dear to him
  5. 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

 

September …….

The summer has officially gone and the rain has begun, however as yet, not much of it …… thankfully.  In some ways I’m glad to see its passing and in others, it leaves me slightly melancholic.

Because of the amount that I was working, my garden this year was rather pitiful with only some garlic (which is small because I didn’t cut off the scapes in time), kale, herbs and some volunteer potatoes, although my fig tree had a fabulous crop of about 60 King Kadota figs and my quince tree, instead of its usual 6-8 quince has about 20-25. If you’ve never tried quince it’s a much undervalued fruit because you need to cook it to eat it, but it has a wonderful flavour.  Click on this link for a recipe for Apple Quince Crisp if you want to give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

My construction job is nearly completed which leaves me with a sad yet joyful feeling as well.  I must say that I made sure that I enjoyed every minute of it and made the most of it, but all good things must end and this too, as others.  Life has brought many changes lately and I’m not quite certain where this one will lead.  I’m sure I will find out all in good time.

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

My reading this year has suffered more than in the whole entirety of my life.  I’ve finished 2 books ….. can you believe it?  TWO!  But I’ve begun many more however I haven’t been able to get traction.  With the changes and busyness and confusion, I’ve remained reasonably unfocused yet, with some extra time lately, I’ve managed to start and keep on track with two reads: Bleak House and New York by Edward Rutherford.  I feel like I’m going to like this particular Dickens.  I also plan to add C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.  I’ve seen Udolpho mentioned a number of times on blogs lately, so I thought I would join the trend.  I think a silly gothic romance might be just the thing I need right now.

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

I also just created an Instagram account for Classical Carousel.  I have Instagram for my food blog but I hadn’t thought of it for my book blog.  But fortunately I’m now signed up. Please find me and follow me for a more day-to-day, week-to-week update of my reading adventures!

So keeping this short, I will sign off and hope for you all a wonderful September!