Francis Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most renowned writers of the 20s. He was brilliant and told one hell of a story. The man was also a severe alcoholic with health problems, and died at the ripe age of 44.
Yet here is a man who is credited with some of of the best quotes on earth, and whose work, The Great Gatsby ends up on nearly every highschool syllabus in the US. But he never got to see that part of his life. He never got to experience the greatness I believe he was destined for. He didn’t get to taste it.
I bring this up, because this man is one of my most favorite people. His words are something fierce, and often ignite fires in my heart. Just like that quote above; I hope you see things that startle you.
You can learn a lot about a person from the things they create, how they carry themselves, or how they view themselves even. I didn’t know Francis, but if I had, I’m sure he doubted himself. In a time period where writers were poorer than I could understand, (poorer than me ha) he tried his hand at a career that involves you to cut yourself open and try not to bleed too much. I’m sure he thought of himself as mediocre at best, and probably downed his thoughts with liquor. It helped him accept who he was, or maybe accept the fate he knew was coming-the man stated he had severe tuberculosis. He lived his life how he deemed appropriate, but unfortunately his time ended while he was young.
But I didn’t know Francis. None of us did. In fact, anyone who knew him closely is likely dead. So it isn’t fair for me to assume I knew anything about him. He could have been a real asshole, although after reading the poetry in his sentences, I doubt that. Maybe he wanted people to think he was tough, but maybe he was weak. The point is, I don’t know, and I can’t judge him. But I can love his words.
And oh his words.
It’s funny how often we forget how small we are. We tend to think of ourselves as mountains, or at least standing a top of them proudly, and we want everyone to wave. We often forget that standing on mountains causes avalanches. It causes wake. Reaction. We want everyone to notice us for the good, and respond to the good, and we want everyone to ignore the bad. Francis might have had a lot of ugly or bad in parts of him, but that didn’t make him any less of a writer. Hell, it might have made him a better one. He might have had a lot of beautiful parts, too.
Which brings me to my point.
Be proud of what you do, even if part of you doubts that, or others decide they will doubt that for you. Be proud of the dreams you want to taste, but don’t forget your dreams are your own, and what’s right for you may not be the case for others. It doesn’t make anyone wrong, and it doesn’t make you right. The world is a balancing act. But don’t knock the way another cat swings. Don’t think for one minute that you know a person’s wars, when you’ve never stepped on their battlefield. Be conscious of your surroundings, and surround people with goodness, don’t add to their doubt or fears. Build them up don’t tear them down.
Francis might have lived a life he loved. Maybe he wanted to die young. Maybe this was all his plan. Maybe he knew that someday, fifty years after his death, his words would still be tugging on the hearts of people.
Regardless of all that, it’s not up to me. Your life is up to you. Not another soul…it’s yours, maybe the one true thing we own in this world. It is not borrowed or lended. It’s yours.
Do with it what you will, and please…have the courage to start all over if you need to.
It’s never too late.
Thank you Francis…I look forward to our talks someday…in the great beyond. I’ll buy you a drink and you can tell me all the things you never got to write. And I will tell you all the ways you made me feel a little better and learn to not doubt myself.