‘There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.’
There are homemade aphorisms sprinkled throughout Fitzgerald’s work, often reflecting his view of the world as romantic, ambitious, and exhausting. Most of the world is busy and tired, but everyone wants to be either pursuing or pursued. You must either be consumed by desire or be the object of consuming desire, or else what’s the force of life for?
Fitzgerald believed that each man and woman is born with a limited reserve of fuel, fuel for creativity or romance or commerce or sport, fuel that should be spent in the pursuit of greatness. And he felt that once it was spent, it was gone, unrecoverable and without a revitalizing replacement. He drank himself to death at 44 because he had pursued his whole life, and then he was just tired. We can read this aphorism as a timeline instead of a categorization: youth is pursued, experience pursues, age becomes busy, tiredness becomes death.