For inspiration and understanding

In high school we were forced to read Hemingway. I hated it. I thought (and still think) that he is a misogynist, somewhat trite author, and a bit of a bore (although I’ll give him a little redemption for Old Man and the Sea). However, a poem in the forward to one of his books struck me. For years it was plastered to my bedroom wall, showing up in Grandma Betty’s and following me to my college dorm. Somewhere along the way, the paper and the poem disappeared, and honestly, I had not thought about it in years.

I came across it yesterday and immediately copied it in my notebook. Looking back to it, I can’t help but think that these words had somehow sunk into my subconscious, subtly shaping my thoughts and experiences over the years. If someone asks for a reason I am in my chosen field, or the why for where my passions lie, I think that these words sum up the answer better than anything I could muster…

No man is an island,
entire of itself;
everyman is a piece of the Continent,
A part of the Main;
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in Mankind;
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne, Devotions, XVII