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06.17.12

A Father's Advice: F. Scott Fitzgerald on What to Worry About

Weekend Supplement

Fitzgerald

In the hundreds of letters authored by F. Scott Fitzgerald that have been collected, we have this one dated August 8, 1933. In it, he offered the following advice to his 11-year-old daughter Scottie, while she was away at camp. It is still good advice today.

 
DEAR PIE:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy--but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed page, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare's in which the line occurs Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds....

Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:
    Worry about courage
    Worry about Cleanliness
    Worry about efficiency
    Worry about horsemanship
    Worry about…
Things not to worry about:
    Don’t worry about popular opinion
    Don’t worry about dolls
    Don’t worry about the past
    Don’t worry about the future
    Don’t worry about growing up
    Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
    Don’t worry about triumph
    Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
    Don’t worry about mosquitoes
    Don’t worry about flies
    Don’t worry about insects in general
    Don’t worry about parents
    Don’t worry about boys
    Don’t worry about disappointments
    Don’t worry about pleasures
    Don’t worry about satisfactions
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?

With dearest love,


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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:22 PM
| Comments (0) | Weekend Supplement



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