A Lesson from Ernest Hemingway
Following the Paris attacks last month, bookstores throughout Paris as well as online came to quickly have a low supply of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (many sold out temporarily). A memoir published posthumously in 1964, Hemingway offers readers a feast indeed for the senses and reminds us of the magic that is seemingly ubiquitous, yet so difficult to explain. To see and discover Paris through the eyes of the young, struggling writer during the 1920s is worth reading more than once. Perhaps a promise we Francophiles should make to ourselves is to read it every decade or at least prior to each trip we take to the City of Light as a reminder of a destination (Gertrude Stein’s apartment), a street to journey down or the many simple ways to enjoy time in the city.
Sprinkled with insights and wisdoms too young for his years as well as naiveté that leaves readers grinning as his full biography has since been written and shared with the masses, one empirical piece of wisdom he shares clung to my memory.
“By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Speaking about how he acquiesced his avocation for gambling on horse racing, he then finds himself becoming ever more curious with riding (a bike that this). No, not he himself riding, but watching professional cyclists race. And since the interest demanded no money to enjoy, the void was filled with something far more positive and even more entertaining.
But whether our temporary emptiness is prompted by letting go of betting on the horses, as was Hemingway’s case, or letting go of a friendship that weighed us down, or merely letting go of a bad habit such as smoking, what fills the void has every reason to be something even more fulfilling. Our job is to have the strength to let go and see the brilliance we have gifted ourselves with.
And in the case of losing something we did not want to lose, Hemingway is right, it will only be filled by something better because the bar has been raised.
Let’s take a closer look:
When we lose something thought to have been good, the void left behind is a stepping stone toward a better life. A new version of ourselves. Yes, perhaps a version we had not expected to live, but still an opportunity to do something beyond our imaginations. If someone walks away from us, a job is taken from us or a dream dies before it has a chance to come into fruition, we have in many ways been set free, received a do-over. We can take the new knowledge we gained along the way and apply it to our new start. So in many ways we actually aren’t starting completely anew. We are starting with a foundation that is far stronger and wisdom-enhanced than when we began before.
On the flip side, when we are the ones to let go of a bad habit, a negative trait/person/relationship/job/etc., we open ourselves up to a better fit. Whether we have more time, more of ourselves to share with others, more energy, more patience, we can be available should something that truly piques our interest comes along, to engage, and engage more fully. Rather than tending to what is weighing us down, holding us back, preventing us from growing, we have untethered ourselves and in many ways given ourselves a gift.
The catch is trusting that what lies before us is worth a hopeful demeanor, but the paradox is that it is our hopeful demeanor that will determine whether or not what awaits us is worth the risk.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Be the Master of Your Mind (podcast #20)
~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life (episode #40)
~10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile (episode #4)
Oscar and Tony nominee, as well as winner of multiple Emmy’s for her guest starring roles in HBO’s Six Feet Under, actress Patricia Clarkson is radiant in a film that won “Best Canadian Feature Film” in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Ruba Nadda and set in Cairo, Egypt, Patricia Clarkson’s character, Juliette, arrives to visit her husband, Mark, who works for the United Nations, but is currently away in Gaza managing a refugee camp. Continually detained, Juliet begins exploring the city with Tareq (played by Alexander Siddig), a trusted friend of Mark’s, and the two kindle a deep affection for one another.
Subtle, sensual, and worth your time. And the question running throughout the entire film, “Can the people we meet and the choices we make change our lives — forever?”. See the trailer below.