The Power of a Misquotation

Recently I found a widely referenced quotation attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s about the power (and accessibility) of change.  About how—in the end—we are all in charge of our own lives and destinies.  And about how hope and strength are the tools that make change possible.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921

Unfortunately, F. Scott Fitzgerald never wrote these words.

It seems that when the screenplay for a film called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was being developed (which is based on the FSF short story) the screenwriter, Eric Roth, felt like he needed a concise statement to illustrate to the viewer exactly how our hero, Benjamin Button, viewed the world.  So he made one up.  Complete fabrication (though I’m not knocking Mr. Roth’s proven writing talents). But look it up on the Internet and you’ll see it’s completely misquoted time and time again as having been written by Mr. Fitzgerald.

It just goes to show you—real change, positive change—can find a foothold in the most unusual places.  Something I take great comfort in.

The incredibly insightful misquote is as follows:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”