The Old Man and The Sea

Lately, I have found myself especially intrigued by nautical tales. Specifically, those that share a fisherman’s humbling experience with the powerful ocean. While exploring the vast world that is Powell’s books in Portland, I picked up a copy of Earnest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”. I usually take my time reading books, but I couldn’t put this one down. The book stimulated my thoughts on learning through failure, a skill I find particularly applicable to the field of science.

Oddly enough, soon after finishing my new book, I encountered an old man with quite a few stories about life on the sea. After a long day of work with no lunch, I found myself sitting at the bar of our local pub. Next to me sat a man in his 60’s with a thick grey beard, missing more teeth than he had. It didn’t take long for conversation to start. It was obvious that I was not from the area. I came to learn this man had worked on commercial vessels for longer than I had been a live, a strange life to contemplate for a boy raised in the suburbs on Nashville, TN. Our conversation delved deeper as my curiosity grew. He shared with me stories of 30 foot waves and a captain too greedy to return to port. Upon their boat capsizing, a nearby vessel flipped as well in an attempt to save the crew. My new friend had to be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter while wearing nothing but jeans and a sweat shirt. His only advice to me was “Wear your dry suit!”

I’m sure aspects of his story were exaggerated, but the tale struck a chord with me. It allowed me to reflect further on the acceptance of uncontrollable variables. Throughout life, unexpected circumstances are inevitable, especially when at sea. Accepting change and reacting accordingly is a trait I personally find crucial in achieving success across all aspect of life. Throughout my future travels, I look forward to the fishing tales that will find their way into my ears. I leave you with a quote from “The Old Man and the Sea”.

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”

-Earnest Hemingway

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2 thoughts on “The Old Man and The Sea

  1. That’s a great quote for science, and for life at sea! Thanks for sharing, Colin. And you put a different spin on Justin’s guidance to talk to strangers – finding out their stories may help you uncover things about yourself…

  2. You’re such an outgoing and friendly person! Kudos to you for taking advantage of the Oregon coast community by getting to know some fishermen. Sounds like you heard some exciting tales that night.

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