Monday, December 9, 2013


This follows my post from yesterday on how much will you pay to see a person you admire or learned from ... or even to get first hand tips about a field you are interested in from that master.

What I am going to tell you is not new – if you spend time to read the lives of people who have influenced the world in a positive way, you will come across those who made up their minds to meet someone who is like a “master” in a particular field and did so in a rather “unconventional” yet not illegal or immoral way.

I came across the story of Arnold Samuelson, who completed his journalism diploma programme at the University of Minnesota, and wanted to meet his idol, Ernest Hemingway, the author.
In the spring of 1934, Samuelson, then 22, packed his violin in a knapsack, and hitchhiked 2,000 miles from the middle part of America where he was to Florida (in the south) to meet Hemingway.

Samuelson later admitted that that was quite a foolish thing to do (– and today it is much more dangerous with all kinds of people out there), but then when you are young, you often do not think too much.
Well, when he arrived at Hemingway’s house and told him what he was there for, the author, sat with him on a porch and gave him some tips about writing fiction – something that Samuelson said he was not good at.
Later he also gave Samuelson a list of 14 books to read.
He advised the journalism student to read authors who were dead and whose works stood the test of time – not books by those who were alive.
Hemingway then gave the young man some books to read and sent him off.

The next day when Samuelson came back to return the books, Hemingway, told him that he had been thinking when he had left the day before, that he needed a man to keep his boat for him.
He asked if Samuelson wanted that job.
“You can clean the boat in the mornings and have time later to write,” the author said.
Samuelson was very happy and took up the offer. He lived and learned from Hemingway for a year.
He earned $1 a day for his job.
Yes, that is not much – but the education he got by being with the master was something that millions of other writers would have wished was offered them.
In that year, Samuelson wrote a few articles from things he learned – including a remarkable memoir titled “With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba”.

So, how far will you go to meet that person, see that special place or visit a certain group of people in some unknown part of the world?
That is for you to decide.

(PS. I read Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” for the second time in my life this year. The first time was when we read it in our Grade 12 English class. Back then I did not understand much. But after being out in the open seas as an adult and, most importantly, learning to fish for hours at sea under the hot sun has made me understand the book better. I read it in two days to write an English lesson for students on Book Reviews for a distance learning programme.)  

Read more about that here:

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