“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
The life of American author F. Scott Fitzgerald was misunderstood. A celebrated author of the early 1920s, his work goes on today to be one of distinguished and prestigious intellect. However, his legacy will always be coupled with his addiction to alcohol. Yet, was alcohol the true poison that led to his early death at the age of 44, or was it his sense of perfectionism and his belief that he was only as good as his last work?
Fitzgerald’s most significant work, The Great Gatsby, did not receive its respective praise until after his lifetime. For an individual who kept detailed records of his daily life, you can only imagine how the perceived lack of success drove deep into his mind. A perfectionist to a fault, can we blame him for his turn to alcohol to cope? It was said that Fitzgerald could barely construct a proper sentence on paper since the “failure” of The Great Gatsby. The belief that he failed and was no longer a great writer took control of his life.
The author struggled his entire life to grasp onto anything that could define who he was, looking to become the next successful author. Whether you identify yourself as a “perfectionist” or not, there is some relevance to his drive of defining his identity. However, one thing to note about Fitzgerald and the reason I chose to speak of him, was the fact that he never let his passion die.
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function (Fitzgerald)”. There is struggle with holding onto an unexplainable idea of passion in one hand, and the actual circumstance in the other.
The desire to run is indescribable. Somehow, in some way, some power in the universe put me in position to be a runner (hopefully a good runner). There are so many other talents and traits I possess that can be of more ideal use, like my ability to learn topics fast, hence the several graduate degrees I possess. But the circumstances are that in this world of professional running, you are only as good as your last race. And, no matter the conditions of the situation, my last race was almost half a second slower than my absolute best, and that’s a huge difference when the race was only 60 meters long.
What gives us our passion? What gives us this strong emotion that positively affects how we function? What gives us such enthusiasm and limitless energy that is almost impossible to switch off? I cannot answer that, but I can answer that those brave enough to embrace the passion never question the purpose to their life.
From observation, some people would rather be practical than passionate, and merely survive than to live. Then, there are some who let their passion take over and end up doing things that challenge the norm, push boundaries, destroy tradition and ultimately reshape the world as we knew it. To go after your passion is to be deemed different. To go after the unseen parts of your heart requires a high level of bravery. Fitzgerald’s most arguably best work came decades after The Great Gatsby was published, a piece that was never completed due to his untimely death. The half-finished book amounted to be greater than all his completed works put together. The passion to write never faded, and his life was celebrated because of that.
“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
To be frank, this is my way of expression, my live diary/journal if you may say. This is not, by any means, a lecture to anyone as how they should live their life. I am barely figuring out how to live my own life, so how should I know how you should live yours. I’ve been struggling lately to write, and maybe as a result, I am mentally frustrated. So, excuse me while I get some thoughts out so my brain can finally breathe.
This rant was pegged from a visit to the movies, and as all of you know, movies are my personal time. I enjoy movies because it’s a time when I can finally stop thinking about my own life, and escape to another. However, I recently went to see the movie “Battle of the Sexes”, the story of women’s tennis great Billie Jean King. I am a huge fan of Steve Carrol, and even more of a fan for Emma Stone, but this movie didn’t sit well with me. Not so much because the movie was bad; the movie was structured properly and told a great story. But with the recent events of NFL players kneeling, I left the theater angry rather than satisfied and recovered.
Women’s right was the theme, women fighting for respect. There was a scene where the BJK spoke on the fact that women were not fighting for equality just to say they were better than males, but to show that they are equally important in this journey of life we are all enduring. This is the same for the kneel. When I walk around anywhere, I cannot help but feel judged. It is not because I have some predisposition of racism, but because it is what I experience EVERYDAY. When you hear an older woman say a simple “Thank you” to the cashier, but moments later looks right through you when you go out of your way to open the door, it is demeaning. It is the compilation of these many small acts that helps you realize that you are judged, and in some terms, do not matter.
There is a feeling of having to work beyond our limits constantly just to gain some sort of feeling of mattering. It is beyond exhausting as if it isn’t hard enough to define to your own self that you do matter and you are somebody. For me, I’ve struggled, and continue to struggle to this day. Recently, I finally realized that I am just as much Samoan as I am Black, but why do I feel as if I don’t belong to either group. My skin is too dark to be accepted as Samoan and growing up, people were always perplexed when they found out I was the son of my mom. I was too black to be my mom’s son. I was a “lie”. Growing up inner city, I was placed in advanced classes because of my perceived intellect.
Black kids excluded me because I was in different courses, mingling with the white kids. On top of that, I was not “black” enough because I love women of all types, and not strictly black women.
Don’t we all have some sort of struggle? Why are we different because my struggle is different than your struggle? It is a sad day when we must classify and degrade other humans because the struggles are not the same. When a person declares that they have everything figured out, and how they are living is the best and only way to live, then that is clearly the signs of a complete liar. Our days are filled with nothing but insincere nonsense with people “bullshitting” their way around. And it is the “Bullshit” that ends up affecting everyone around.
Now, I could be literally going crazy because I’ve missed my medical treatments for the past 7 months. (Just to reiterate, I have hydrocephalus, causing brain tumors/cysts to arise often. Medicaid is my health insurance, so you can put the rest of the pieces together from there.) But I don’t have to be in my right state of mind to recognize that something is not right. I am struggling to find the good in this world. I am struggling to find small lights of hope. Is it my “over-active” brain that is over analyzing everything? That could be the case, but one thing is certain, the presence of love has been replaced with selfish desire instead.
*Just a thought: If you feel there is disrespect towards a specific symbol and intentions are being directed towards the wrong entity, then maybe you still have not received the message. Perhaps, what the symbol represents, an entire country, has disrespected them or what they believe in for far too long.*
Jeremy Dodson is a Track & Field Olympian who struggles with the idea of perfection, hoping to break the barrier we place on ourselves so that genuine living can take place for everyone.