The good life.
I have been learning about Eudaimonics recently. It is the psychology, I suppose of what life is all about. Many philosophers regard the pursuit of happiness as the goal of life, of living, but the ancient Greeks thought that that amounted to hedonism and that the preferred route to happiness was to do good whenever you saw the need; that doing the right thing in any given situation was what mattered, regardless of whether you might profit from it. And by profit, I don’t of course mean financial gain I am referring to how you might be perceived as a person if you say the right thing or do the right thing, always aware of any advantage to oneself. In a way, it’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
John Locke [Father of Classical Liberalism] who lived in the late 17thC is supposed to have argued that, ‘happiness is pursued through prudence’. I wish I had known that fifty years ago. At least I think I do. I might still have started the business but probably wouldn’t have built my own house or converted the railwayman’s cottage in the Borders or the Casa in Italy. Might have thought that trekking overland to Kathmandu was imprudent; and as it turned out, wouldn’t have met my soul-mate. Wouldn’t have nearly died.
In my current novel, Parallel Lines, I have attributed the state of being truly fulfilled to Midori, Kikarin’s mum and have identified her as the one person that Kiri knows who can be described as Eudaimonic. She knows what the point of existence is and what fulfilment feels like and how she can pursue that.
It isn’t something I have seen examined much. Not in contemporary writing, anyway.
It would be fair to say that I am using Midori’s prudence [and ruthlessness in her abandonment, to some extent of her troublesome family] to create a counterpoint to everyone else’s indulgent life-style and so there is a contrast/conflict arising within the narrative arc. Okay, a device perhaps but once I had gone deeper into Eudaimonics I wanted to develop and use it in my story of these Japanese women.