I came across this very sweet and sentimental post at Lists of Note about a list F. Scott Fitzgerald made to his daughter Scottie in a letter in 1933.
Despite his own struggles with alcoholism, his writing talent shines even in a letter to his daughter. In a way, this list reminds of Polonius’ speech to his son, in Hamlet, “neither a borrower nor a lender be…”
I think these are good rules of thumb to live by. I’m really glad I came across post, because I didn’t even know a book of Fitzgerald’s letters even existed. I really need to get my hands on a copy.
In 1933, renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald ended a letter to his 11-year-old daughter, Scottie, with a list of things to worry about, not worry about, and simply think about. It read as follows.
(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald with his daughter, Scottie, in 1924.)
Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
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:
(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,
1. Page yourself over the intercom. (Don’t disguise your voice.)
2. At lunch time, sit in your parked car w/sunglasses on and point a hairdryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.
3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask him or her if they want fries with that.
4. Put your garbage can on your desk. Label it “IN.”
5. Develop an unnatural fear of staplers.
6. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over his or her caffeine addiction, switch to espresso.
7. Send e-mail to the rest of the company to tell them what you’re doing. For example, “If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom, in Stall # 3.”
8. Finish all your sentences with “in accordance with the prophecy.”
9. In the memo field of all your checks, write ‘for diamond smuggling’.
10. Dont use any punctuation
11. Use, too…much; punctuation!
12. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
13. Specify that your drive-through order is ‘to go’.
14. Sing along at the opera.
15. Call the psychic hotline and don’t say anything.
16. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don’t rhyme.
17. Have your coworkers address you by your wrestling name, “Rock Hard.”
18. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream “I Won!”, “I Won!” “3rd time this week!!!”
19. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling “Run for your lives, they’re loose!”
20. Tell your children over dinner. “Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go.”