Finding my (Heming)way…

“I never had to choose a subject – my subject rather chose me.”

-Ernest Hemingway


When our heart never really resigns but our mind needs a break, sometimes forces we cannot see—but know are there—bring us back to where we were meant to be.

Today started as it always does and yet there next to me was a book on my reading “to do” list, “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway”.  I have had this book for over two weeks now and have chosen to read others in its place.  Today, this book was calling to me, to open it and read just a bit.  I picked the book up and my hand slid over the cover to harvest that “stiff new book” feel… not a crease yet made, and the pages crisp as if not a hand had touched it yet.  I opened the book to find the typical forward and preface, of which I will sadly admit, I hardly ever read.  I passed through the publisher’s preface and then I suddenly stopped at the preface titled,  “The First Forty Nine”.  I was left frozen at this page… as if I wanted to pass over it, but that little voice that rests inside, said, “Please… go ahead, read this one.”

I smirked a bit as if to wonder if I should trust what I was being told… and with a corner of my mouth pulled in as if to lead an inquisition, I began to read the words under the preface title… Hemingway begins to explain the stories in the book and where it was they were written.  He explains that his stories come from the adventures he has taken… the places he had visited were the impetus for the words he decided to share.  He comments on the ones that received great notoriety and then mentions, “The Light of the World”, a story no one seemed to like but him.  He comments that although some stories were preferred over others, they all seemed to be good enough to be published.

That’s when I was captured by the following excerpt… as if he were the Pied Piper. I followed every word with great focus, taking almost a second with each word read with a soft tone… as if I knew they were to be read out loud like a spell that would be the key needed to unlock a door that had been closed for some time.

“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with.  But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.  Now it is necessary to get to the grindstone again, I would like to live long enough to write three more novels and twenty-five more stories.  I  know some pretty good ones.”

I sat for just a moment and then in an instant felt compelled to re-read those words…. The message was as clear as the Tahoe waters and just like that I heard that most identifiable “ding” on my iPhone… mail had been received.  I opened up my inbox and there was a renewal to my website,….  I couldn’t help but giggle.  If I thought that synchronicity was uncanny, it was going to get stranger yet!

I left to go to the gym to get my rehab exercises done as I am recovering from a knee replacement, and the entire time my mind was on Ernest Hemingway…. and the stories I so want and feel compelled to tell.  My motivation must have been off the charts as I conquered feats at the gym that I truly should not be ready to accomplish!  With that level of energy and excitement coursing through my tired muscles, I returned home to get cleaned up and see just where to begin or if I even should.

I turned on the TV as I normally do to get caught up on the news as I prepared to shower.  I heard the reporter mention the “Today in History” segment and I spun around to listen.  I had not seen this portion of this newscast before and so I intently listened to the reporter state that 64 years ago today on March 4, 1952, Hemingway completed his novel, The Old Man of the Sea”, which won a Pulitzer Prize and was deemed his best novel.  Hemingway said the book was about a man in a struggle to pull off one of the largest catches of his life and Hemingway said that the story paralleled his own struggle to return to writing after not writing for a long time.

I stood there in a bit of shock… Ernest Hemingway?  This date in history?  The message could not have been clearer.  I shook my head and thought, synchronicity can either be ignored or understood.  If it is ignored, opportunities may be lost.  If it is heeded, and the journey is accepted, there is nothing to lose.  Hope is only real when there is just as much of a chance at failure as there is with success… and the ability of having the potential for either outcome relies on how strong the will and spirit determine themselves to be.

It was then, that I walked over to pick up Hemingway’s book.  I cradled it close to my chest as if to hold something so precious and priceless that it would not be relinquished easily.  I have thought about returning to writing for some time but simply lacked the motivation or direction to do so.  There was the notion that what I choose to write may or may not appeal to some, most or any.  It was then I remembered Hemingway say that there was one story he wrote that no one liked and yet, it was still published because his publisher believed in it.  It only took one person to have faith in the stories that he shared… and Hemingway himself said it is better to write than allow those stories to remain unshared and unwritten.

I will choose to listen to the words of a well published, respected and admired writer than to fight the demons that find every excuse and reason not to share my stories….for perhaps it was Ernest Hemingway,on this poignant day, who so persistently dropped this lesson in my lap… or perhaps it was not him at all.

Wondering what this girl will write next….


4 thoughts on “Finding my (Heming)way…”

  1. Hemingway repeated what C.P Cavafy wrote in his poem ” Ithaca”

    As you set out on the way to Ithaca
    hope that the road is a long one,
    filled with adventures, filled with understanding.
    The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
    Poseidon in his anger: do not fear them,
    you’ll never come across them on your way
    as long as your mind stays aloft, and a choice
    emotion touches your spirit and your body.
    The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
    savage Poseidon; you’ll not encounter them
    unless you carry them within your soul,
    unless your soul sets them up before you.

    Hope that the road is a long one.
    Many may the summer mornings be
    when—with what pleasure, with what joy—
    you first put in to harbors new to your eyes;
    may you stop at Phoenician trading posts
    and there acquire fine goods:
    mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
    and heady perfumes of every kind:
    as many heady perfumes as you can.
    To many Egyptian cities may you go
    so you may learn, and go on learning, from their sages.

    Always keep Ithaca in your mind;
    to reach her is your destiny.
    But do not rush your journey in the least.
    Better that it last for many years;
    that you drop anchor at the island an old man,
    rich with all you’ve gotten on the way,
    not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

    Ithaca gave to you the beautiful journey;
    without her you’d not have set upon the road.
    But she has nothing left to give you any more.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaca did not deceive you.
    As wise as you’ll have become, with so much experience,
    you’ll have understood, by then, what these Ithacas mean.

    1. Many thanks Manoli for your support…. You are absolutely correct! Perhaps one day I can make it to Greece or South Africa and we chat about history’s great literary masters! Take good care my friend… ?

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