Advice from Ernest Hemingway on Living Fully Alive


Recently my friend, talented writer Jeff Goins, posted the above Hemingway Quote. Hemingway’s advice applies to an audience far larger than writers. His words are intriguing in light of his life and tragic death.

In this quote, Hemingway touches on the “Fully Alive” theme that has become the focus of my message. His words echo the hope of  every person who has drawn a breath; the desire to live life to the fullest. Hemingway lived fast and hard. Yet in the end he took his own life.

The last words of this quote might provide a hint, that in spite of his own advice this talented man may not have found the gusto and joy in life he was looking for.

Henry David Thoreau touched on what Hemingway might have felt but never addressed publicly. Thoreau is accredited with saying, “Many men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.” Is it possible Ernest Hemingway longed for something deeper than the sensual pleasures of life he encouraged writers to experience? In spite of his prolific writing, was there a song he took to the grave with him?

I love Hemingway’s quote. With less colorful language I would encourage the same quest to fully enjoy everything life offers. But how sad if the only reason for doing so is because, “You will be dead soon enough.”

Jesus weighed in on this issue when he said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10) MSG

The abundant life Jesus talked about embraces the rich experiences that Hemingway spoke of and gives them a deeper meaning and purpose. It also extends the purpose for living beyond this present life.

I confess. I have walked some deep valleys in my life and I have stood on some amazing pinnacles of success. In both situations, the abundant life Jesus offered has been the source of my greatest joy and hope. It intensifies every experience and as promised, it has given me a life I never dreamed possible.

I was a freshman in high school when Hemingway died. We were reading “The Old Man and the Sea.” My teacher cried. Seeing this quote today brought a lump to my throat.

Today I breathed a silent prayer that you, my friends, would breathe deeply, taste fully, sleep soundly, laugh heartily and be intensely angry about the right things. Whether you are a writer or not, I hope you go even beyond Hemingway’s advice. Embrace the “abundant, eternal life” Jesus offered and live fully alive.

  • Did you read Hemingway?
  • Can you see the truth in his quote?
  • Can you see the irony?

Thanks to Jeff Goins for his original post on this. And thanks to you my friends for listening to my thoughts. I look forward to your comments. [reminder]