“No, he thought, when everything you do, you do too long, and do too late, you can’t expect to find the people still there. The people are all gone now. The party’s over and you are with your hostess now.”
It is true that with suffering comes depth. I used to be ashamed of it, but I know now that without it, I would know very little. I see distances further than I have traveled, which is to say I have earned a certain insight into my fellow human beings.
I feel that way as I reread Hemingway this week. Now that I’m older I understand his stories in ways I could not have as a child in my twenties. I teach children in their twenties and they think they know so much. I suppose I did too. A know-it-all-ripe-fuck who, if I didn’t like it or didn’t understand it, put no value in it. What will our world be like when they’re in charge? How could it be worse than the world we’ve created? I think what most of us don’t understand is that everything we do today creates a very specific kind of future. Regrets are inevitable because we’re so stupid in our youth.
Harry is left with his wife and memories of all of the things he did not write. His end is fitting, gangrene from an infection that started with a scratch he was too proud to do clean and bandage. Nothing noble in that, in spite of all his bravado. The truth outs in the end. And the gangrene a symbol for all he did not do and will never do. That’s what it’s like when we fail to live up to our potential. Something I fear. Something that drives me. Something that breathes down my neck like my own mortality.