Spoiler: The World Is Trying To Break AND Kill You (Hemingway Edition)

Hemingway knows what love is

As an emotion – the way it changes the meaning of lonely in your gut. How there’s more than one color to it. How love has moods. 

As a feeling – the ways it offers courage, or shows up in the courageous act of being in love. How it appears more broadly in our lives, nested within the layers of worlds and folds of our realities. 

As a behavior – the way we seek refuge from death in finding love. Holding onto it. All while knowing death will eventually find us. 

This extended quote, from A Farewell To Arms, remains one of my favorite things ever written. It captures all of these reflections beautifully. Maybe even perfectly (my emphasis added): 

That night at the hotel, in our room with the long empty hall outside and our shoes outside the door, a thick carpet on the floor of the room, outside the windows the rain falling and in the room light and pleasant and cheerful, then the light out and it exciting with smooth sheets and the bed comfortable, feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. 

We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. It has only happened to me like that once. 

I have been alone while I was with many girls and that is the way you can be most lonely. But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together. I know that the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started. 

But with Catherine there was almost no difference in the night except that it was an even better time. If people bring so much courage to the world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one 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.