Monday, March 8, 2010

Life or Death

What's the difference between life and death, the thing that can make you or break you? An obstacle. These obstacles could be a minor bump along the way, or they can be more straightforward and hit like an earthquake, and change your life forever. More important than the actual obstacle is how you choose to overcome the obstacle. You can be calm about it, and handle the situation, whatever it may be, as calm and collective as possible or you can chose to completely tweak out over the situation and just get lost in the rumble. The reaction an individual has over their obstacle is based on not only the person, but the obstacle itself. If an obstacle is more challenging, the person that faces the obstacle may choose to take a different route than they may usually take.

In the book, The Old Man and The Sea, Santiago faces multiple obstacles that he has to overcome. Some were minuscule, such as the pain he faced in his hands, while some were life-threatening, like surviving with only one bottle of water and limited food that he had to catch himself and eat raw, which left the reader feeling suspenseful throughout the book, not knowing if Santiago would live. Even though Santiago was forced to face these harsh obstacles, he handled them well and in a way, came out victorious. Even though his fish got destroyed, he got the joy, excitement, and accomplishment of know that he, by himself, caught a ginormous marlin.

What is pain? The correct definition states that pain is "physical suffering or distress" ( I, however, don't agree with this. Pain is an obstacle; a life or death situation. In the book, Santiago suffers extreme pain in many places.

Catching a Marlin today isn't easy or without pain even if you have all of the proper tools. All that Santiago had was his physical being, bait, and string. Obviously, this couldn't have been enough. Failure was almost guaranteed. The book quotes, "...and his left [hand] was taking all the strain and cutting badly" (82). This quote shows what exactly was happening to Santiago's hands.

As the rope got pulled out by the marlin, he tried to hold on with all of his might but it didn't work as planned. The rope dug into his head, like a paper cut, but worse. Almost to the point where skin is beginning to detach from the rest of the hands. The way this quote describes the situation, I picture large, deep cuts that slash right through every inch of Santiago's hands. This just describes one of these numerous situations that occurred throughout the book.

An obstacle that each one of us faces everyday is one that we cannot see, and it's questionable whether or not we can feel it. It's on the inside, in our minds. Your mindset controls your everyday life. If you tell yourself that anything is possible, you are correct. Your mind is one of your biggest obstacles, you can't be pessimistic.

In The Old Man and The Sea, Santiago has to face his mind, and his endurance. If he didn't believe and have faith in himself, he never would have achieved catching the Marlin. He needed to convince himself that he could, so he would. For example, one quote that describes mindset perfectly is: "Mine does not matter [pain]. I can control mine." The most important part of this quote is the sentence, "I can control mine"(88). Referring to his pain, Santiago knows that is he convinces himself that there isn't any pain and that he can catch the marlin, he will and this showed with the success that Santiago had while catching the fish. I believe that if Santiago kept this faith throughout the attacks of the multiple sharks, he could have salvaged his fish, and ended up elated in the end of the book instead of disappointed. If he told himself over and over that he could achieve success in bringing home his well-deserved marlin, he could have arrive at shore with a marlin strung to the side of his skiff.

Being the only one around can get lonely. Especially if you're in the middle of the ocean, with no one but yourself. You can begin to act fretful and nervous knowing that if anything were to happen, there is no help for miles and miles.

Santiago was alone out in the ocean while catching he Marlin. He was lonely and helpless and admitted to it many times. "I wish i had the boy" (45). Santiago knew that if Manolin was there to help him, he would have had a better chance of coming out victorious. Manolin was admiring of Santiago and would have been anxious to help, and Santiago would have been approving of Manolin's work because Santiago taught him everything that he knew. Also, since Manolin was a young boy, he would have been more energetic, which would have helped Santiago when he became tired and tense in the hands. Help would have made everything easier for Santiago, but that wasn't an option. He had to do it all on his own.

Do you like when you're about to score a goal and out of nowhere comes a defender who slide tackles the ball away? No one does. It's the feeling of success that is taken away. You think something is yours, within reach, and out of nowhere, it's gone.

Santiago faced a similar situation in the book. He caught his fish, but deep down inside, he knew that it was too good to be true. The second he harpooned the marlin and the blood seeped out of its torn flesh, Santiago knew that sharks were to come. It was natural instinct. Blood equals sharks.

Another obstacle that the Old Man had to face was the numerous sharks that wanted his gold. "One came, finally, against the head itself and he knew it was over" (118). This quote was the turning point for Santiago. This one obstacle, beat him. He didn't let his pain win, he didn't let his mind give up, but he couldn't beat the sharks. The destroyed him, and his fish.For a while, Santiago was tolerant of the sharks by killing them, or hurting them to a point where the wouldn't come back.When darkness came, he was became carelfree and became uninvolved is the saving of his marlin. Santiago knew that if a shark, or more, was to attack in the darkness, he didn't have a weapon or any light. There was nothing the he could do. All odds were against him. He had to let it be, and deal with the fact that he did let one obstacle overcome him.

Whether you are Santiago, Manolin, or whom ever you may be, you face obstacles. The Old Man and The Sea had so many obstacles. Pain, mindset, and sharks were just a few. Life, however, is a never ending line of obstacles. They never go away and the only thing you can do is to learn how to cope with them. This can be the difference of life and death; win and loose; success and failure. There's nothing you can do to get rid of these obstacles, but those that will come out victorious are those who will stand up tall, and face the obstacle. Those who strive for success, knowing at anytime, failure can be lurking.