Sunday, April 30, 2017

Finding the Lost Generation: Of Intelligence and Infinite Hope

One of the most influential thoughts that F. Scott Fitzgerald ever shared is this:

"The test of a first rate-intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time..."

Of all the wisdom Fitzgerald is known for, this quote from The Great Gatsby both strikes me and resonates with me the most:

"Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope."

At first glance, the two quotes above are unrelated. Look back again. I believe that among the wisdom that can be found in Fitzgerald's writing, the second quote is the most true incarnation of the original quote.

As we get to know people, their rough edges emerge, and if those edges are extremely rough, we find ourselves constantly scraped up and wounded by being in their life, and walking away is necessary. In other situations, we decide to stay, or to stay in touch, and to show forgiveness when a person's shortcomings surface (as we hope they will do in return). To hold the knowledge that every person we know is flawed yet to remember that those flaws probably come from the fact that we live in a very flawed world, is to be a loving person.

To know that when people hurt us, that it might not even be personal, it might be that they are lashing out at how someone else hurt them, is to show grace. When we can avoid judging others in those initial moments of forming an opinion of them when we first meet them, or even when we've known them for a lifetime, we participate in something truly infinite.

When it comes to quotes by Fitzgerald and the expatriate friends he drank wine with in Parisian cafes, I am only somewhat interested in the thoughts they had about human intellect, maybe because of all the spiritual and philosophical issues that exist among a generation, and of all the wisdom that can be passed on from one lost generation to another, I am much more interested in the limitless of the human soul. And if we look back to the wisdom of generations that came from saints or philosophers or artists from all the centuries that led us to this moment, they all left a certain reverberating message for us. It's in the leaning stones in the British Isles, and in the chipped, antiquated marble of the statues of the Mediterranean, and in the hieroglyphics of the caves of Northern Africa, and maybe even in the gilded edges of California buildings of the 1920's. And the message is this:

 The human soul is infinite.  

(c) 2017 writing by Chloe Koffas all right reserved 
photography by Chloe - The Saint Claire Hotel,  built 1926, San Jose, CA

Huffington Post's article: why you should re-read The Great Gatsby as an adult