Yves Saint Laurent, the French fashion designer who introduced the Le Smoking women’s tuxedo suit and popularized trends such as the safari jacket, retired in 2002 at the age of 65, six and half years before he died in June 2008. In his retirement speech delivered at his Paris fashion house, Saint Laurent quoted Proust:
“Marcel Proust taught me that ‘the magnificent and pitiable family of neurotic people is the salt of the earth.’ I would like to quote the entire passage: ‘It’s the neurotics, they are the ones – and not the others – who founded religions and created masterpieces. The world will never know how much we owe them and above all what they suffered to give it to us. We could almost say that works of art, like artesian wells, are that much greater when suffering has most deeply pierced into the heart.’ Without knowing it, I am part of this family. It is mine. I didn’t choose this fatal lineage, however it is because of it that I was able to rise in the sky of creation, that I rubbed shoulders with those whom Rimbaud called firemakers, that I found myself, that I understood that the most important encounter in life, is the encounter with oneself.”
We think of fulfillment as an absence of suffering – when we are no longer left wanting, when there is no anxiety and no longer the need for self-expression because in our fulfillment the perfect expression of ourselves will be manifested. Yet without suffering, without uncertainty, without the frustration of wanting what we don’t have when we become certain we know what we were formerly uncertain of and then wanting again, we never ask ourselves the questions we must ask ourselves to find fulfillment.