ordinary_kittens t1_ixwd13i wrote

Interesting that so many people here don’t like the book, which is fair. Personally, I read on my own while I was in university (not as part of a class, was just curious about it) and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

The book is arguably most famous for taking a pessimistic view on the roaring Twenties, during the 1920s. Fitzgerald had trouble with successfully becoming a writer during his own lifetime. But, after the depression and after WWII, people really looked at history and saw the 1920s in America as a kind of cautionary tale of how unchecked optimism and hedonism can lead to disaster. So Fitzgerald’s take looked a lot smarter in hindsight. Was he really a prophet or was he just a pessimistic alcoholic, bitter that he himself had trouble keeping up with the supposed “high society” of his day? Probably more the latter than the former, although I still enjoy his observations in the book.

I don’t know if the book would mean as much to a non-North American - a lot of the book (at least, in my opinion) has to do with how the main character, and really most of the characters in the book, are people from the west who moved east, only to be overwhelmed and disturbed by how shallow and self-absorbed the lives of the rich and successful were. At this time in the United States, the wealthy of the east would be sort of a new nobility in North America - full of families like the Roosevelts, rich families that had been rich for generations. Out west you would have “new money” types, people who may have become wealthy through their business endeavours, but they aren’t elite the way old money types in New York are elite. So again, you need a hell of a lot of money to fit in with that crowd, but you need more than that, you need old money. Or as Gatsby found, a carefully crafted mystique.

It’s sort of a “don’t meet your heroes” story that I can get onboard with. I don’t think anyone needs to enjoy it but it always stuck with me.


ordinary_kittens t1_iuiuxlu wrote

Yeah, people in Canada tend to exaggerate by giving the windchill temperatures, but I think that’s cheating. Excluding windchill we don’t really get to -40F/-40C very often, maybe only once or twice every second winter, in the middle of the night during a cold snap, like you said.


ordinary_kittens t1_iuitwg2 wrote

I don’t like to give my location but I live near Edmonton, so very dry and cold.

I don’t know Fahrenheit very well but a cold night here will maybe be -30C, with maybe only a week where the temperatures dip below -40C. I mean without windchill (since we are talking about pipes freezing indoors).

I checked the average low temperature for January for Minnesota before posting, and it said the average low was around 4F, so I figured I was fairly close to around what the average low temperature was.

Yes, lots of bright sunny winter days here, too. But, I can tell you guys aren’t much warmer than us despite being so much further south…those midwestern winters are brutal!


ordinary_kittens t1_ir6enzj wrote

When I was younger, I had a parent that would go on about “serendipity” and how much the good things in life can sometimes be totally unplanned. As a young person, I hated the thought, I hated the idea of not being able to plan my life. You want to work hard and you want to know that your hard work will pay off, right?

But, the older I get, the more I see that hard work is not something that has a linear relationship with happiness, or even success. Yes, you don’t want to underprepare. But a lot of job interviews, or sales contracts, or work/business opportunities, come out of a combination of preparedness as well as totally out of the blue. It’s not enough to be the hardest working person with the most education/credentials/skilled hours under your belt. Sometimes it can come down to building a connection with someone you used to know in college. Sometimes you get a job because the job interviewer is really impressed with your stories about how you backpacked around Europe by yourself. Sometimes you win a business contract in part because you used to play golf with the CFO’s brother and he tells everyone that you’re awesome and smart.

It’s good to want to learn and build skills, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize there’s a limit to the success you can have with that approach. Being a balanced human being comes with its own share of opportunities not just to relax, but to meet interesting people you didn’t expect and to discover opportunities you didn’t think about previously.

And you can spend your whole life preparing for the wrong thing. People can end up planning for one type of life only to have a totally different life come their way, after the birth of a child, death of a spouse, unexpected marriage, unexpected opportunity…life can be unexpectedly wonderful or terrible.

If you want to work hard, work hard. But remember to be mindful of how much is out of your control…as the saying goes, we must have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.