January 15th 2020
Today I read a book cover to cover in a single session for the first time in… well, a long time. I mean literally, I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I’d finished it. The book was Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and it’s more of a novella and a book. It’s ninety–one second let me check–nine pages, so it only took like an hour and a half for me to finish it once I’d started.
It’s strange, because by the end of the book, nothing has really happened. Don’t read any further if you intend on reading the book yourself. The Old Man returns from the sea and his life is no different from how it was, but somehow that doesn’t matter. It’s cliched, but the book is not so much about the destination, it’s about the journey.
He’s out fishing on a little row boat in the pacific ocean, and hooks a 1500 pound marlin. He’s not caught a decent fish for 85 days so this one he refuses to give up on. If he tries to reel it in the weight of the fish will snap his line, so for three days the old man just lets the marlin swim around the ocean, towing his boat. The old man has to wait for the marlin to tire, because with a hook in it’s mouth the fish can’t eat.
So 85 days without a catch, and a good few days without proper food, the old man still has patience. Because he knows that if he waits, and if keeps his head, his time will come. And he’s right. The marlin tires, and the old man uses his remaining strength to pull the fish to the surface, where he stabs it through the heart with a harpoon, killing it.
The fish is too big to carry in the boat, so the old man ties the fish to the hull, and it ‘swims’ alongside him as he sails the boat home. By this point, he’s well out to sea. He’s gone too far, because the marlin took him that far. The marlin, long dead and strapped to the side, is bleeding heavily from the harpoon-wound through its heart. The blood attracts sharks, who piece-by-piece, tear meat from the fish.
The old man fights off the sharks as best he can. He kills four. One with the harpoon. One with a knife. And two he batters with a club. But his efforts are wasted, and all of the meat from the fish is lost. The sharks leave him with only the head as a trophy and the spine for decoration.
He returns home empty handed, beaten, battered and bruised. Downtrodden, defeated, depressed.
And the next day, he goes back out to sea to try again.
Until tomorrow, keep your head.