Sunday, March 26, 2006
As of today, I have lived longer than F. Scott Fitzgerald did. That's, er, sobering. And, in light of our respective lifetime achievements, food for thought.
At age 24, Fitzgerald published This Side of Paradise, an autobiographical novel set at my favorite university. It was an instant hit and made Fitzgerald famous, such that my grandmother, who was four years younger than Fitzgerald, remembered when it was a bestseller stacked up in book stores. That same year, 1920, Fitzgerald "married the beautiful Zelda Sayre and together they embarked on a rich life of endless parties."
To be clear, I've done none of that. I'm rarely even invited to parties, and when I have been I either forget to go or the hosts regret having me.
The rich life of endless parties, however, did not stop Fitzgerald from pumping out The Beautiful and the Damned, which I have never read but which you have to admit has a cool title, and, of course, The Great Gatsby, which is, according to The Guardian, the 48th greatest novel of all time.
Fitzgerald also wrote screenplays, and some very amusing short stories during a time when short stories were a staple of American popular entertainment. He even veered into speculative or even science fiction, although lit snobs would find some specious ground to deny it. See, e.g., "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Diamond As Big As The Ritz." (Both short story links go to the full text, so you can read them right now if you are so inclined!)
Here's to hoping that I can accomplish in my entire life a fraction of what Scott Fitzgerald achieved in his truncated one.
It's a pressured life if you go about comparing your achievements with others'.
You don't? Then how do you know if you're not a lame-ass loser?
I admit that I don't go through life knocking myself because I have made less money than Bill Gates, turned out to be a worse lawyer than David Boies, don't write nearly as well as *cough* Maureen Dowd, don't attract the babes the way George Clooney does, and don't have the blog traffic that Glenn Reynolds has.
But. It seems to me that one cannot simply measure one's own success in a vacuum, either. You might decide that success is not something you want, but if it is, you then need to know what failure -- or at least not-success -- is. I repeat, how else do you know whether or not you are lame?
And then there's the obvious next point: what's wrong with leading a "pressured life"? I would think any life worth living would be pressured. I don't get it. Seriously.
I guess with all my recent comments, even my benign lines provoke defensiveness. I'll be more clear.
We decide who's examples we'd likie to follow or who's achievements are desirable, and then we pursue our own paths.
There's nothing wrong with living a pressured life. There's nothing wrong with seeking success and creating one's own benchmarks for success.
I didn't mean to attack, Hawk. Live your life however you want. No skin off my nose.
I dig F. Scott Fitzgerald, too, and I think he would have liked you.
Lastly, I imagine there are many, especially here, who would consider me a "lame-ass loser". I can live with that.
No offense intended.
Not my birthday! I literally calculated the length of my life against Fitzgerald's down to the day. Since he did not die on his birthday, yesterday was not mine.
However, for future reference it is December 29!
Ah... I wondered about that possibility after leaving my comment. But then I thought, Who would do that?
I should have known.
(Btw, that date should be easy to remember. It's my brother's birthday as well.)