Hemingway Says the World Breaks Everyone — Here’s Why That’s Good

Hemingway Says the World Breaks Everyone — Here’s Why That’s Good

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In A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway proclaims that the world eventually breaks everyone and kills those it doesn?t break. It doesn?t matter how positive you are or how hard you want something, reality will catch up with you and break you. It?s portrayed as a fact of life. Nobody remains the starry-eyed kid they once were with grand illusions of how grand life is, because the world eventually tells us, quite harshly, that life is cruel. But there?s a glimmer of hope in this gloom.

?The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.? ? Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Now, while that?s morbid, I choose to take a more positive spin on it and see it as an inspiring call to action. While Hemingway states that the world breaks us, he also adds that we become stronger in those broken places. So if the world tells you your writing, music, art, or business idea is absolute trash it hurts ? but it?s also necessary. You and those ideas being broken are the only way to get stronger. If that first draft of a novel or that pitch for a business gets shot down and the whole thing falls apart in front of you, the chances are it wasn?t that great, and the chances are your next attempt will go the same way. But it?s a challenge to be better. Every rejection will hurt a little less because you get stronger. And when you get stronger, so does your ability to self-criticize and revise when necessary.

Even Hemingway needed to break his own writing. In fact, he rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms 39 times. And that?s just the ending. He also rewrote other passages multiple times and scrapped the original idea for the opening. And you know what? Some of these passages are pretty bad in comparison to the finished product.

?Those that will not break it kills.?

I take this part to mean that if you remain stubborn and set in your ways, your ideas die. Evolution comes from hardship. And if you refuse to adapt and reform, you and your ideas go extinct, never to see the light of day. And nobody wants that.

So the next time the world is trying to break you ? let it. Then reform, revise, and stand tall. You are stronger in those broken places.

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