Survival of the Earnest

November 6, 2015

​​"Now is no time to think of what you do not have.  Think of what you can do with what there is." -- The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway​, p. 110

 

The quote above comes in the part of the story when the old man, Santiago, has already killed a giant marlin, but he is trying desperately to defend his catch from all the mako sharks, who successfully attack and eat the carcass of the giant marlin.  Santiago, regretful, wishes that he had a stone with him in order to sharpen his knife, or any other weapon to defend the marlin from the predatory sharks.  Santiago thinks and says to himself the quote above.

How very much like life this quote is!  How applicable to life!  Here we are, trying to make a life, trying to make a living, and from time to time there will be lurking predators, just trying to take a bite of what we've worked so hard for.  We do our best to protect ourselves ​and what is ours from those who just want to leech off of our fruits, our labors, our reputation.

At an even broader scale, the quote reminds us to focus on what's in our control and to let go what's not in our control, since doing so will only frustrate us.  "Now is no time to think of what you do not have."  How easy it is to compare ourselves to someone who has more of something, be it money or property or reputation.  But instead, "[t]hink of what you can do with what there is."  Be resourceful.  Develop ingenuity.  It's called survival, something our forefathers had to do for every previous generation just to culminate in our own birth and existence today.  Now it's our turn!  Let's see what we can do, to do the right thing, even with what little we may have, while the bloodsuckers and big mouths do their best to demand your attention and test your will.

So, if you haven't read The Old Man and the Sea, do you want to know how it ends?  The old man Santiago arrives home with the giant marlin's skeleton still attached to his boat and a group of fellow fishermen see it the next day and marvel at its giant size, clear proof of the old man's hard work and his deserved prize.  You and I should do the same: keep working hard, be humble, accept the challenges of the world head-on, and let your work and its prizes speak for you, instead of saying anything in words spoken or written.​

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