Great musical. Opened on Broadway in 1961, starring Robert Morse. Won the Pulitzer for Drama in 1962.
The title is terrific but it’s not true.
You cannot succeed in anything without really trying.
What’s wrong with struggling? Why should we expect things to come easily? There’s no fun in “easily.” Figuring it out, working your tail off, seeing the fruits of your labor — now, that’s a blast.
Perhaps that is why I love reading biographies of fabulously original people (Billy Wilder in Hollywood is a must-read. Wilder, one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age came to America from Austria and wrote at least four of the greatest screenplays in film history including Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch.) I so admire people who had to struggle to get to the top (and the top is not necessarily an extraordinary career in movies. It could be leading a volunteer organization, competing in a marathon, or learning how to play the piano at the age of 85.)
By the time you’re on page 10 of the biography, it’s pretty clear “without really trying” does not apply to the biographer’s subject. And when you have finished the book, you’re in awe of the road blocks, detours, and dead ends that were bypassed by sheer drive, ambition, and self-confidence. It’s dazzling how much someone could ask of themselves. And of course the best books detail the rejections and disappointments so you can appreciate the determination it takes to keep your eye on the ball. Remember: you need to turn over a lot of rocks to plant a garden.
For many of us, success does not come easily. Perhaps that is another reason I love to read (and savor) the biographies of magnificently talented individuals — they inspire me to keep going by really trying.