Graceful Hemingway

February 20, 2009


Today, my holy cows, I would like to ruminate with you a saying by Ernest Hemingway.

Dear Ernest famously said that courage was “grace under pressure”.

And pressure he certainly knew.

Hemingway fought WW1 as a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy, where he was hit by a mortar shell and machine-gunfire shots but nevertheless kept saving lives. He spent four years in Spain covering the Civil War, then went on to naval warfare when WW2 started (his ship admittedly sank a couple of German submarines). He witnessed D-Day and later on in 1954 during a trip to Africa, survived two successive plane crashes and a bushfire. Severely burnt, he couldn’t make it to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize.

Undoubtedly, Hemingway’s idea of pressure was no joke. When you stuff cigarette butts in your wounds to stop the bleeding (WW1 on the Italian front), surely, you see life from a different perspective.

That’s what I think about when I hear people whining.

Grace under pressure.

Dear Ernest didn’t like adjectives. He cut, cut, cut, until his sentences were minimal. He believed that when a story is big enough, there is no need to blabber.

Strangely, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was the first serious book I ever read. I was 10, I think, and I didn’t understand much until the teacher asked me questions about it – I, however, perfectly remembers the love scene when the ground shakes. Sounds like I had my priorities right already.

I think a lot about Hemingway in India, a country he never visited.

A country that requires guts, and grace. I think he would have liked it here.

That is, before the hunting ban.

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