My last post was a tad too acerbic so I have decided on a more upbeat message in this post. This time I will concentrate on those who have persisted and ultimately achieved success.
The starting point for this and countless other similar ideas is a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘There are no second acts in American lives.’ A quick google search shows that everyone uses this quote to start an argument against it. It would seem quite the opposite is true, if I were to describe each example supporting this, this post would very long, very quickly.
The person who’s story first drew my attention to this quote was Steve Jobs. In the days following his death the quote was used relentlessly to describe his eventual ascension back into Apple following his ousting by John Sculley. Of course we all know how this story unfolded, Apple on the brink of collapse, Jobs comes back, everything is peachy again.
Whilst this may have been a ‘second act’ for Apple, Jobs got busy in the interim. He invested in Pixar who made some of the highest grossing computer animated films ever and he also set up Next computers. Legend has it Sir Tim Berners Lee invented the world wide web on a Next machine although he pretty much says he’d have invented it anyway just quicker on a Next machine. Cocky b*st*rd. Anyway the point her is that Jobs never really went away, true he was no longer pulling the strings at the company he founded but he still managed to have his impact felt in other areas. Anyway the Jobs story is probably one of the most discussed in any critique of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote.
So who else? The examples are in abundance. Sean Parker crashed and burned with first incarnation of Napster but went on to play a crucial role in the early years of Facebook.
In the realm of film Clint Eastwood has successfully taken his place on the other side of the camera lens with some of his best work made as a director.
Ronald Reagan had made a name for himself as a B list actor and he ended up with his finger on the button, back in the days when someone could muster a meaningful retaliation.
In music examples are plenty too although you could argue that they stay in music so technically not really a second act. I was a big Nirvana fan in my youth and my reaction to the news that Dave Grohl had formed a band was one of despair and apprehension. The myth surrounding Nirvana was under threat, Kurt Cobain’s death whilst the band was in it’s prime kept the band and it’s image in a virtual stasis, never knowing what might have been or the depths they could plunge. So are the Foo Fighters a second act? Damn right they are, a bloody good one too.
It’s safe to say second acts are fairly plentiful in any area of life at any time. I would however recommend Googling this famous quote as the amount of writing that has started with the quote is quite astonishing. Some have even gone as far as to say it has been one of the stupidest quotes ever. Really? If I’d been responsible for a quote that generated that much discussion, I’d be pretty goddamn proud of it!!