Hemingway: Don’t give up on life

Wednesday August 7, 2013

Prisoner of the Finca. That’s how I feel, uninterested in finishing anything but with a new idea brewing every so often. Papa’s last years. No need to produce money, a need to create but no way to complete things before the energy leaves. Killing time. Really, it is an idea. I do know what was going on, from the inside, at least I think I do.

What do you say, Papa?’

Well, you can feel the juices flowing, can’t you?

Yeah, I can, but it is like painting: I’m scared to pick up a brush, for fear I can’t do anything.

You like the feeling? Then don’t give in to it.

I don’t know, Papa, it doesn’t feel like something you can turn off or on, you know?|

Oh, I know! But I’m telling you what I learned, what I learned the hardest way there is.

Any different from my own experience with it?

Just that I fought it more than you do.

And what did it get you?

I don’t know. You’ve got to fight, what else can you do?

Seems cowardly, to you? To just shrug and say “fuck it”?

“Cowardly” is a little harsh, but – maybe.

Didn’t you think your father was cowardly?

Not for shooting himself, for not pushing back.

Do you understand his feeling now?

Of course I do. You don’t get through changing life without automatically understanding what you were involved in. But you are there now, and I’m trying to give you the benefit of my experience. What did the old German tell John Cotton?

You can’t give up on life.

It is true. No matter what. Not because it’s wrong or doesn’t match your ideals of how to live or anything, but because giving up on life doesn’t work. It is an error in judgment.

So we proceed, pretending to believe in whatever we’re doing?

We proceed – if you proceed – by choosing to do something you enjoy doing regardless whether the result comes out all right. You know this.

I should, I’ve told people for years.

Well, this experience just makes it realer for you, because it reminds you how people have to work at getting by, day by day, and it has nothing to do with having to make a living.

And if the mainspring is broken, and you have to shake the watch every minute to keep it ticking?

If that is your situation, you have to live it. Let it stop or keep shaking it, either way you deal with it. but how well is what you’re doing working?

Not all that well, as you know.

You’re feeling the inertia as it comes to a stop. You can live with that, or give it a hell of a kick to start it up again.

Theoretically.

Theoretically, if you don’t try. And maybe even if you do try you don’t succeed. I’m only pointing out, it is a choice.

 

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