I just finished reading Ernest Hemingway’s famous baby novel, “The Old Man and the Sea” just the other day…
Initially, into the first few sections, I wondered, “Ok, so what’s all the fuss? Why is this book even famous?” And then the old man snagged the Marlin. The battle ensued, until finally, FINALLY, he reeled that sucker in. And I actually felt pride for the old man–for the old man who could have easily settled for retirment years ago. Who says being 65 means you should stop confronting the hardship of life? Who says turning 70 means you shouldn’t try? Who says being 120 classfies as the age to “put up your sword”?
With bloodied hands, the old man allowed himself to catch his breath. The marlin tied up beside him. Nearly 30 feet in length. The simplicity of Hemingway’s words parallels the simplicity of the story, the environment, and the theme.
And then come the sharks. I did not expect this.
And by the time there was nothing left of the great marlin but a skeleton, I felt the deepest sort of disappointment in my gut. Even after the first shark took its hold and tore away a chunk, the marlin lost its purity. And I think the old man felt it, too. Plenty of meat still clung to the fish, but suddenly the meat that was left became even more precious. I guess it goes to show that no matter how hard you work for something, once you get it, you can lose it just like that. In the blink of an eye, all your hard work gets lost down the drain of life. As if nothing mattered. As if your bloodied hands stand for nothing at all. And as your only witness, you come to accept your life, all those trials and tribulations that, in your mind, could be recorded as epic tales, as a blip on the chain of existence/history, too small to see with the naked eye. You come to accept that you are in fact no one at all–just the main character in a story no one will ever read, other than yourself, that is.
Phew. What a good book. I have a soft spot in my heart for short, simple books packing HUGE universalaties. Word? Whatever.