A writer friend asked that I read the short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway. Much of his work has spoken to me in the past. I studied For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms as a high school student and later, in college I read The Sun Also Rises. More than 1o years have passed since I’ve read his work, but while dissecting his shorter fiction, I felt like as if I was receiving advice from a long, lost friend.
Reading this particular work at this time in my life is no coincidence. In the last few months, I’ve thought so much about the word regret. Some questions that litter my mind: Am I fulfilled with my current identity? Ten years from now, will I have regrets about not taking a particular path? What if it is too late to pursue or work toward my goals? Then what?
I’ve witnessed at least two people who passed before they could fulfill their dreams. One person I am at liberty to discuss, the other I cannot. My father, as much as I dislike writing these words, had many unfulfilled dreams and goals. There were some external factors that played a part but there were pieces of him that contributed to stopping short of pursuing his goals. And then cancer came and it was too late.
I am certain that this story is not unique to my father. It happens everyday to someone somewhere. In everyday conversations between friends, spouses, strangers even, I hear the following words in stereo, “When this happens, then I can pursue _______,” “Now is not the time, I’ll have an opportunity later,” or “I can’t do this right now. I’ll have to wait a few years.” I’ve uttered the same words in different situations. Reading these words by Hemingway stirred an urgency inside of me.
Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them either. Maybe you could never write them, and that was why you put them off and delayed the starting. Well he would never know, now.
The main character is a writer, but is now dying in the middle of the Africa and taking inventory of his life. He recounts all his experiences and all the stories that he carried with him, but never wrote down. Why? In his mind, his words were never good enough. He kept talking about writing, but he never wrote. Ultimately, he wasted his talent because he procrastinated too long. When does he realize this? When it was too late.
Although Hemingway’s character was a writer, the theme of this short story can apply to anyone. All of us are waiting for that moment when the time is right or when the house is quiet or when the kids go to bed or when the kids are older or when we are more financially more stable or maybe next week or month or year.
Whatever you are putting off, do it now. Pursue it. Now. Don’t wait. Sometimes it becomes too late.
Beautifully said. A timely post as a new year approaches.
Thanks. Appreciate your support.
That story is such a powerful one. I love it…perhaps because I can relate?
Kitch: I found myself nodding so many times as I read the story. It’s ripe with so many lessons. I need to figure out a way to learn them.
Thank you for this. I think I needed to hear it!
Thanks. It was an inspiring read. Appreciate your comment.
Wise words. Those assessments and reassessments teach us to focus while we still can. Living with regret is not easy. I certainly have regrets, though I know exactly why I made the choices I did – largely out of responsibilities I could not avoid.
But compromise will always be part of the picture, and in my opinion, more for women (who are mothers) than for our male counterparts. Still, to the extent that we can seize the day, truly we should.
Lovely post, and wishing you a wonderful week.
It is quite difficult when you know what the best choice is for you, but it conflicts with what you should do because of responsibilities to a spouse or children.
Always a joy to see you in my space. Wishing you a lovely week.
Wise words and true to most of us. We need to follow our passion as often as we can. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. xo
Following our passion is a way to avoid regret later. Sometimes though we spend more time deciphering what that maybe… I think that is when true regret sets in.
I’d read this earlier but didn’t have a chance to comment. Interestingly, my husband and I were just chatting today about Christmas shopping, and he was saying that he’d noticed that he’s reached a stage in his life where he doesn’t really need or want anything. We then talked about how it seems that the older we get, the more we crave experiences over material goods. I think it’s because we realize how quickly time goes, and how much richer experiences make our lives. I only started pursuing hobbies a few years ago, but your post is an important reminder to really be more mindful of them, and to think about what goals I might have and to make some plans for them.