Things to Think About

F. Scott Fitzgerald would finish his short letter to Frances (see yesterday and day before’s email if you missed them!) with a short list of things to think about. It’s as Stoic as anything he would write—and beyond that, just really good questions for anyone to consider on a daily basis.

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

And then he concludes, “With dearest love” and signed his name. It’s interesting to think that the person he was writing this to was 11 years old. Makes you wonder if he wasn’t really writing to her at all, but to himself, a man who in 1933 was a world famous author yet racked by self-created financial issues, alcoholism and chronic procrastination and escapism. He was brilliant and in that way, unlike most of us, but flawed and trying to improve, and in that way, so like most of us. He was, like us, like the Stoics, beating on, his boat against the current, trying to do the impossible. And his advice for doing it lives on.

(You can read more of Fitzgerald’s letters and advice and private struggles to turn his life around in the wonderful book The Crack-Up, which was edited and published by his friend Edmund Wilson)

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