Something was beginning to form as the writer blinked and oriented himself to his surroundings. Immediately the sense of touch dominated as he experienced the blazing heat. He began squinting from the brightness of the sun as it magnificently regaled its audience this time of day. Yes, the writer realized that his somnolence drifted into a much longer and deeper sleep. More and more, he would take these late-morning, early-afternoon naps, awakening confused about his surroundings. He realized as he looked over at the desired elixir that he was imbibing earlier and earlier. As a result, the writer made sure that he always wrote soon after rising, which helped ward off the increasing darkness permeating his being.
The writer looked out at his magnificent pool and thought about taking a swim. Instead, he went over and dipped his hand into the refreshing water and splashed some on his face. ”Ah, ” he said out loud. As he took a nearby towel, wiping his face, he thought about the hours ahead. Although he loved his place in Cuba, the writer began reminiscing about his time in Key West. He used to stroll down Duvall Street, and on those rare occasions unaccompanied by the family, he stopped in one of the local bars before proceeding to the pier. Although he had traveled vastly and lived in Europe for some time, nothing beckoned him more than the sunsets of Key West, which triumphs all others in majesty. Along with the tourists and locales, he would applaud as the sun graciously descended into sleep, leaving behind a masterpiece in the sky.
The writer was reminded of those delightful events as they offered him a reprieve from his disheartened spirit. Throughout the last few years, episodes of heaviness took over, but as he hoped, they eventually would subside. The recent bouts, however, seemed more intense combined with an increase in excruciating pain from his physical injuries.
His writing continued to offer him an escape, as did the sport of fishing. Even those passions, however, were unable to ward off the abyss, which appeared at his doorstep for more extended visits. The bottle was his most comfortable flight from reality, but the writer knew his creativity was at risk. Hence, he indulged only after exercising the pen for a few hours.
As he pondered all of this, the writer began to think about the meaning of life. He had more than most Americans could imagine. His gift of prose provided him with luxuries, but they also caused strife. ”Big money, big problems, especially with his ex-wives,” he thought to himself. He often reviewed those failed marriages, and he always returned with the same conclusion. He truly never got over the impact of the wars, as well as losing the love of his life to another. He knew it influenced his relationships with women. The writer was hoping that his marriage to Mary would be different. ”So far, so good, ” he reflected.
He and Mary discussed another place to live besides Cuba. As much as he loved the island with the idyllic weather, the convivial people, and the Cuban spirit, he sensed unrest. Nothing major at the moment, but just in case it would be wise to purchase another home in the states. Because of his love for hunting, the writer was scouting out some property in Idaho.
As he returned to his present situation, thoughts of some of the philosophers such as Nietzsche permeated his mind. What if the Nihilists were correct? At one time, he would balk at such an outlook, now, not so much. He recognized that life had many ”isms” including racism and elitism. The writer had acquired fame and fortune, but he struggled with the idea that such accomplishments made you superior. He met beautiful people from all walks of life. Never did he view himself above them. No, he truly embraced the idea that ”true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
As the writer knew he must continue to write about the injustices, but for now, he must not get embroiled with negative thoughts. He took another hearty swig of the bottle. Yes, Mary was correct to chastise him on his alcohol dependency. He always had good intentions, but his chronic physical conditions, along with his growing despair, made it difficult for him to abstain.
As he got ready to go inside and prepare for a later drive with Mary, the writer decided that maybe the home in Idaho would offer him refuge from his dark thoughts. He could only wait and see.
Author’s Note: Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and sportsman. For those of us attending school in the seventies, assigned readings were those written by Mr. Hemingway. I do not recall much about his books, but I believe I was required to read The Old Man and The Sea. Also, I had the opportunity to see the riveting movie The Snows of Kilimanjaro based on Mr. Hemingway’s novel, which starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Susan Hayward.
Sadly, Mr. Hemingway suffered from many physical injuries as well as an inherited chronic disease toward the end of his life. He also battled depression, which evolved into a more severe mental illness. One can hypothesize that Mr. Hemingway used alcohol to assuage his physical and psychological issues. As with many others, however, it became his demon, which may have catapulted him further to the depths of despair. We never know what prompts someone to follow through with the impulse that takes them to the point of no return. Years later, his beautiful granddaughter, Margaux, the lesser-known of the famous Hemingway actors, also committed suicide.
I write about Mr. Hemingway not because of his mental health issues, but because he was ahead of his time writing about the injustices of racial and class superiority.
I want to thank the fabulous and eloquent writer, Larry Tyler, for inspiring me with the quote from Mr. Hemingway, which he shared in ”Dirt Road Storytelling.” I saw his quote during a fortuitous moment when I experienced a bit of bias from one who views themselves as superior to me. Graciously, he suggested I write about it. So I did. I leave you with the full quote:
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.