January 27, 2010

On Disappointment

I remember when I was a little boy, I felt a great fish at the end of my line, which I drew up almost on the ground, but it dropt in; and, I believe, it was the type of all my future disappointments (Swift to Bolingbroke).
Does this not describe the nature of most, if not all disappointments? For who has not felt, with good reason, that a positive outcome in some affair or other was likely, only to have expectation summarily dashed against the rocks? To be consistent with my previous animadversions on this head, I shall resist invoking hope and luck, but I feel we may safely identify with the man who feels he has been done an injustice. In these times of difficulty and dearth – I say this with a vagueness such that anyone may identify with it – a fish on the line causes a greater anticipation of its being landed securely on the bank than it might in times of ease and plenty. To lose the fish through, say, a fault in the hook, might be thought by the fisherman to be an injustice, especially if he paid good money for a properly functioning hook. A certain ire is wont to arise under such circumstances, and who could fault it?

The question is, what to do about it? Alcohol provides temporary relief but quickly magnifies the hurt; breaking something in a fit of violence only leads to regret, and does nothing for the problem. The bottom line is that the only cure for missing that fish is to catch another one, and better still to ensnare it on a hook of one’s own fashioning. There is a reason for the platitude “there are plenty more fish in the sea” (although its factual status is increasingly in doubt). Where a chance goes begging, another can be engineered. Perseverance and indefatigability are laudable qualities. Ingenuity and entrepreneurialism, when superadded to the former qualities, make for a formidable character, resistant to setbacks and resolute about the chosen path. Not everyone is blessed with equal amounts of these qualities. But they are to a large extent to be defined in terms of spirit, which can be cultivated, trained, even incanted.

Somebody wise once said, ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’. That seems to be a sound enough maxim for the disappointed among us.


  1. Great Blog :) I have a question for you. I recently bought a stone statue from India and its apparently over 1000 yrs old. is there anyone you might know who could tell me how get it carbon dated or how should i verify this information?

    By the way if you like sartorialist I would recommend you check this site too its cool



  2. Thanks for the compliment, and also for the link.

    I wouldn't have thought carbon dating was necessary (too expensive, too difficult to arrange). Have you considered your local fine arts auction house? They will have people qualified to appraise your statue, possibly for free. This link may be helpful:

    san diego art appraisals

  3. John Adams to Abigail Adams: We cannot guarantee success, but we can deserve it.


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