I recently read “This Side of Paradise” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I didn’t really love it. At first. It was the kind of book that had me begrudging the lead character because he was very human and not very sympathetic. Once I finished the book, I think I finally caught up to the pace and concepts and grew to love the way Fitzgerald walked the reader through each. I now think that many of us are very human and not that sympathetic. And that I am perhaps a slow reader.
The concept that stuck with me the most was idea of a personage vs. a personality. Monsignor Darcy, a support character, explained to the lead, Armory, that he should count himself lucky to be a personage.
Where a personality assumed its surroundings and passed in times of trial or change, a personage would always shake itself off to move on and “do the next thing.”
Rather than carry on and mar the brilliant writing of Fitzgerald, I can just say that the idea of always doing what is next stayed with me. A personality is a good thing, but it does morph and change and not always in the best of ways. It’s the tofu of humanity (think it out). I don’t think this is bad so much as it embodies how we grow into new places in our life. I’d just like to have a bit more substance as I grow, to take in life, to be one who always does the next thing.
This blog is about that. Life is a journey, a pilgrimage to the person you are meant to be, and hopefully along this personage you become more than a personality.
“But remember, do the next thing.” Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise (Scribner, 1920)