I have had a fantasy of setting out in a sailboat and spending a year or more at sea. My most recent read has reawakened that. I read a book you probably read years ago. I didn’t think I’d like it. I loved it. I’m afraid now I will have to give Moby Dick a chance.
My husband asked me, “How do you blog about a book everyone reads in high school?” Actually, I didn’t read this in high school. We read A Farewell to Arms, and it taught me to love Ernest Hemingway. I love his clear crisp prose and his capacity to tap deeply into human experience. And yet, for years I have avoided this book. Somehow I couldn’t imagine that a book about a man catching a fish could do much for me, no matter who wrote it. It screamed “Man Vs. Nature theme.” The very idea of reading it made me think of boring simplistic high school essays.
This month, the Tackling the Pulitzers group on Goodreads chose this as its monthly read. I sighed, gritted my teeth, and opened the Kindle. And was transported. This is a beautiful, touching tale of mindfulness, human connection, and personal strength. While there is an aspect of “man vs. nature” in the novel, there is also a much more profound level of man treasuring intimate connection to nature. I loved the relationship between the old man and the young boy he has befriended. I respected the old man’s courage and ability to master himself in moments of hardship. I soaked in the descriptions of the setting and the wildlife. And I delighted in the old man’s love of the great American pastime, my favorite sport. I am tremendously grateful that I set reading goals that challenge my pre-existing biases and push me outside my comfort zone. It would have been tragic to have missed this book.