and on disappointment…

October 20, 2008

Let’s imagine that disappointment is a useful refuge, so that once you feel disappointed you know where you are. This is one version. The other version is that there’s a life organised to avoid the possibility of disappointment. And then the question would be, what’s the big problem
with disappointment? You could think disappointment is integral to being human so you had better start learning about it in order to be able to take risks. I would not want my children not to do things for fear of disappointment. I’d want them to be attentive to the moments when they take flight into disappointment as an avoidance of something else. Because I think disappointment is extremely consoling.
There’s also a sense in which hope can be poisonous… I think it would be better to bring up our children, from early on, with the idea that there is a question whether life is worth living for any given individual at any point in their lives. For some people, it is a real question and one of the things we can do, thank God, is to kill ourselves. That should be a serious option built into our education. Why are you tolerating pain? I would prefer to start from the position of asking the question whether life is worth living, whether certain kinds of pain are worth suffering.

Adam Phillips

4 People reacted on this

  1. Interesting points Kerry – but faith only offers succour to those who believe. I’m not sure Phillips is talking about alleviating any of those issues – there’s a fantasy that there’s a disappointment or pain/suffering free life – it’s just that – a fantasy. Phillips’ invitation is to think about the meaning of disappointment rather than the abstract hope of a fantasy life without.

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