“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated. ” –Ernest Hemingway, from The Old Man and the Sea
It’s been a Hemingway sort of year for me. I followed his footsteps through Paris and drank martinis in the places he did and looked on the very paintings from Paul Cezanne and more he said shaped his writing. I then went to Pamplona and ran with the bulls and saw all he wrote about in The Sun Also Rises. I went with two friends—one new and one old—to the places in the Pyrenees where Hemingway fished for trout in Spain and wrote about deceivingly in The Sun Also Rises.
Finally, I went to sea and caught tarpon and tried and tried for a marlin like Hemingway loved to do. No marlin took the bait but that’s fishing too and is a lesson from The Old Man and the Sea, a story that lets us know we can try but can’t always succeed. Like much of Hemingway’s storytelling it tells us that whether we fail or succeed it’s how we handle winning and losing that really matters. And anyway, I caught jacks, snook and more and even helped save a sea turtle from a commercial fishermen’s net.
Also, an 80-pound tarpon I fought for 20 minutes and landed along Costa Rica’s east coast made me think of another Hemingway quote from The Old Man and the Sea: “Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so.”