Great Expectations, Great Disappointments

I would like to share with everyone one of my favourite quotations. This has been on my wall for the longest time — I used to look at it everyday, as a reminder that expectations can destroy one’s life as much as a lack of it. I have it memorised, and it sounds so good to me that I sometimes say it out loud without noticing it, even while riding on public transportation.

The following quote was taken from The Great Gatsby, by F.Scott Fitzgerald:

As I went over to say goodbye I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man can store up in his ghostly heart.

Then of course, there’s Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a story that too emphasizes on the disappointment that comes after great expectations. Expectations that have gotten out of hand, will lead to absolute disappointment, no matter what happens in the end, for nothing, nothing, can satisfy it — they are, but illusions — chase your own shadow, you will find that eventually catching up with it is just an illusion, though it seems so plausible. (perhaps a meaningful life is like that too? — just an illusion?)

No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man stores up in his ghostly heart. That, for one, is a reason why I believe I may remain a bachelor my whole life — for in my mind, I have built up a certain lady so high that no reasonable conclusion might lead to any other place but disappointment. Try as I might, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to stop thinking how great she is.

2 thoughts on “Great Expectations, Great Disappointments

  1. Thank you for creating this site about expectations and disappointments, an issue which appears in my own life. A maxim which speaks to this subject: “to compare is to despair.” An expectation inherently compares what could be to what is.

    Expectations appear initially as excitement when I meet a man who has that spark of life. My reaction swamps what is possible. These thoughts race ahead creating a reality whose probablity is weakened as the illusion strengthens.

    Another story comes to mind. A young woman who dated frequently had a rigid idea of the man of her dreams. He would bring her flowers on their first date. She would wait by the window and if he was not carrying flowers when he exited his car, he was toast no matter how interesting or sweet. Of course, she would give the man who carried flowers signals of interest, despite the fact that this was part of his formula for seducing women.

    An interesting question for each of us, is why do we depend on strong expectations when we know so much about them? Do we create disappointment as a way to control it? Do we use expectations to confirm our belief that we will always be single? And, of course complain about it so we are not seen by ourself or others as responsible for creating it. Perhaps this is part of a rigid personality profile, afraid of change yet so desperate for it.

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