“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
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.