Tonight marks the end of something.
We chose those words carefully. They’re part of the title of our favorite short story by Ernest Hemingway.
If you’ve never read it, “The End of Something” is penned in the sort of style that made the angry fisherman an iconic writer.
It’s simple. It’s clear. And it tells a hell of a story.
After a year like we just had… it’s a story worth sharing.
It will give some vital perspective on what’s yet to come.
The story’s main character, Nick Adams, appears in many of Papa’s works. In this case, the young man is fishing and rowing a boat with his girlfriend, Marjorie.
They’re trolling the lake and looking toward a shore town known as Horton Bay. It’s a lumber town.
Or… it was a lumber town.
Nick nostalgically tells Marjorie he can remember the town when it was buzzing and chopping up trees at its peak pace. But as Nick yanks on the oars and shoves the boat ashore, he gets grumpy when he’s forced to admit the Northern Michigan town is nearly empty.
The saws have stopped spinning, and the folks are left idling and out of work.
The tale has a familiar ring to it. Modern-day readers surely nod along as Nick delicately remembers the industry that’s come and gone.
Nobody knows where it all went… but everybody knows that it went.
It bothers Nick just as it bothers us.
But Hemingway is not done.
The Long Walk Home
Shortly after pulling the boat ashore, Marjorie asks Nick what’s wrong.
“It’s not fun anymore,” he says.
The reader is left to ponder whether Nick’s talking about living in a run-down town in Michigan or whether the slow fishing has lost its joy.
But Marjorie knows it’s neither.
It’s the end of something.
She quietly grabs her things and walks home… alone.
Nick buries his face in the picnic blanket and feels the bittersweet pain of breaking up a relationship that went a bit too long.
It hurts to say goodbye. But it’s a relief to move forward to new – and better? – things.
What Comes Next?
And just like that, the clock has run out on 2020.
The end of a heck of a year has come.
The year was hell on so many… and heaven on Earth for others. (Have you seen the markets?!)
But time is a gift that must never be wasted or wished away.
The world may be glad to collectively bury its head in Champagne tonight and see it go. But Hemingway – that drunk – left us pondering the notion.
At the end of his tale, we’re left empty… wondering whether Nick regrets his decision.
Was the “new” Marjorie any better than the old? Did he suffer alone for years? Or was the problem not Marjorie at all? Perhaps it was Nick who was no fun after all?
As we toast the old and welcome the new, we can’t help but wonder whether tomorrow will be any different from today.
Are we ditching the lover we know… for the lover we don’t?
Are we really the cause of our pain? Will it ever go away if we don’t change ourselves first?
Time, of course, will tell.
And that’s really what we should celebrate tonight.
The lumber mills will come and go. The relationships will wax and wane. And some days, the fish simply won’t bite.
But through it all, the clock keeps ticking.
If we think hard enough, that’s the moral of our little story. It’s not the man who buries his head in the sand and relives old memories who thrives.
It’s the man who gets up, brushes the sand off his pants and keeps moving forward who writes a tale with a happy ending.
None of us has much time.
It’s silly to celebrate the time that’s gone by. We shouldn’t toast what’s over.
We must raise a glass to what’s to come.
It could be good… It could be bad… But it’s something fresh – a brand-new calendar to fill with all we can.
It’s not the end of something we celebrate tonight… but the start of something new.
Happy New Year.
We hope it’s filled with many new opportunities.
What’s ahead for you? Email us your big plans for 2021 at firstname.lastname@example.org.