To Set Out Upon the World

Jonas Gerken - Brazil


September 1, 2017

At the beginning of Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea", the protagonist–the old man–sets out on a journey. The goal of the trip is seemingly simple: to set out upon the water to fish for his food. And yet, at some point in his trip, something changes, and his goal suddenly changes with the environment around him. His quest to pursue something that he recognizes as greater than himself drives him to continue, despite setbacks and the unpredictability of his journey. The old man returns from his journey having faced hardship, and is arguably better off because of it.

  As I sit at the precipice of what will be the most influential journey of my life thus far, I am reminded of the toils of the famed old man. Sitting at my desk at Stanford alone in my room listening to Noname and sipping my highly caffeinated tea, I am in a very different context than the old man. However, I am similarly at the start of my own journey, one that will change direction, challenge me, and lead me to question why I am doing what I am doing. Just in the same way that I will soon be taking that first step like the old man, I hope that when I return I will be all the better because I took that step, and allowed myself to begin the journey.

  Before I reached the point I am a now, there were those in my life who doubted the merit and purpose of my journey. It was very difficult to respond to them because I myself did not know the purpose of my journey nor did I think I should know. There were those who thought that I would be missing out, and that somehow by beginning this journey that I was missing out on another. And I couldn’t understand how they didn’t see this as just a different starting point that would lead me to a different destination.

  I hope that I will be able to complete this journey, and that my expectations will be shattered. I hope that I will be changed by this journey, and that I will find my purpose along the way. I hope to be inspired by others, to find my fish, and to stick with it until I understand it. So here I am, taking that first step, getting on the boat, and sailing into the sunrise.


Jonas Gerken