I like reading autobiographies. The last one I finished recently was “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. It is an incredible story about her childhood. And although it seems that she had the most miserable life a young child could have, growing up in poverty, moving around too many times, living with a charming, yet often raging alcoholic father and a daydreaming artist-wannabe mother, she still said in an interview once that she feels incredible lucky to have felt so much love and is more fortunate than others she has met now living in New York on Park Avenue. And the way she wrote it you could also feel the love in this family. So, this was a book about a youth, JW still has her whole life before her.
Then there is the biography I read about a life lived.
“Max Factor: The Man Who Changed the Faces of the World” by Fred E. Basten. What an interesting life. Working at the Czar’s court, fleeing Russia with his family at age 27 to the US by steamship. Where he was ripped off by his business partner, his first wife dropped dead on the sidewalk, leaving him with 4 children, he then sent to Russia for his second wife who bore him a fifth child but he divorced her, then married his neighbor, moved to California where he became the successful make-up artist for the 1920s Hollywood scene. His sons worked with him, making wigs and inventing the pan-cake makeup. He died in 1938 at the age of 61. Of course the book is very more detailed in describing the film technology, how improvements to faster film, also influenced the way the makeup appeared and the changes Max Factor made to make it all work.
But what I find most amazing after reading a biography about a full life lived is that so many events happen in a life, and when they are summarized in a book, it’s like you see their lives flash before your eyes. The small details in between are missing when narrated from a third person’s point of view.
I then think about my life in a nutshell. I am only 51, I have gone through many moves, jobs, ups and downs with kids and spouse, financial gains and losses and there could be so much more to come. Many people have become successful late in life or have found their calling after taking care of children and spouse. So I look forward to what the future may bring – it already has been a roller coaster ride so far and I do not know if I am facing a climb or a free fall. We will see.