Ernest Hemingway was probably the biggest influence on my late teenage years. Between 15 and 18, I’ve read everything I can put my hands on, which had Ernest Hemingway name on it. Some of his short stories I still remember by heart. Like The Short Happy Life Of Francis Macomber. Still get the chills when remembering the end of it, where Wilson is saying: “That’s better. Please is much better. Now I’ll stop.”. I also knew by heart entire passages from “A Moveable Feast”, his memoir from 1920s Paris, where he struggled as a journalist and aspiring writer. Nothing would have tell then he will win a Nobel prize for one of the best novels ever written, “The Old Man And The Sea”. He was just a guy working from coffee shops. If he would have write at a laptop, he would have been a digital nomad “avant-la-lettre”.
If none of the above makes any sense for you, and you’re still reading this, thank you. I made this introduction for a little quote by Hemingway, one that I still cherish after decades. They said that once Papa Hemingway was asked what writing means for him. He answered, bluntly as always:
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
For years, I thought this applies only to writing. You know, just stay there with the typewriter in front of you and write. Even if you don’t feel like. Even if you’re hurting. Even if you’re afraid to do it. Even if you don’t know what to write about.
Decades after, I realized why I like this quote so much. Because it’s not only writing that gets like that. Every thing you do in life is just the same. Everything important, that is. Every thing that you pour your soul into it. Every thing that can change other people lives. You just sit with the task at hand and do whatever you have to do.
When we wholeheartedly choose a certain path, when we engage in something that we derive meaning from, there is always a certain amount of resistance. Sometimes it’s felt like inertia, like past behavior is still creeping in, trying to twist the path. Sometimes it feels like sheer pressure, like too much to handle. Other times it may be felt like fear, and other times it may feel like futility, like nothing good will ever come out of that path, no matter how much we strive.
And yet, the only way to make it count is to keep at it.
If today is a good day, great, keep pushing forward. If today is a bad day, bollocks, it sucks, but keep pushing forward. If today is an in-between day, flat and boring like an empty sheet of paper, well, rip it off and keep pushing forward.
Unfortunately, we function under this bias, that only “good” days are worth living. And we somehow start to hunt them, to strive turning every day in a “good” day and to pile those up in our memories, measuring our happiness based on how many “good” days we had.
It’s not the number of days in your life, but the amount of life in our days, that counts.