Thought Catalog

The Big One: The One That Got Away

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All quotes are by Ernest Hemingway.
image - Flickr / Studio Grafico EPICS
image – Flickr / Studio Grafico EPICS

Growing up in South Texas. Fishing in the Gulf. We all have a story about the Big One. Mine’s always been about the one that got away.

“[A]fter forty days without a fish … the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky.”

And so to close out 2014.

“Unforgettable” remains an unforgivable understatement. And this year too I’ve been perpetually reminded of my categorical failure at most everything I’ve ever tried. These last seven years I’ve been: Kicked out of law school. Released from a hedge fund. “Phased out” of a soybean trading company. Fired from a currency trading operation.

I lost some world-class fish. And have long been unable to countenance the gravity of my failings.

“I may not be as strong as I think, but I know many tricks and I have resolution.”

My talent? That you never knew. That I could spin these humiliating drubbings into a positive narrative. In my favor. And cast the line again. And so ends my first full year hustling as an entrepreneur. I cannot count the times folks found my pursuit of independent and totally natural tobacco comical. Like, they thought I must be joking. Or crazy. Or worse.

“’Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman,’ he thought. ‘But that was the thing that I was born for.’”

I did this for some badass farmers I befriended south of the Mason-Dixon. For that quintessentially American way of artisan tobacco. For sticking it to the man of Big Tobacco. And chiefly, for my own gratification.

To forge a thriving business against these headwinds is to have Santiago’s fish always on the line. Weary arms always throbbing. Losing yards of line while always cranking on the reel. Sharks waiting for their bite of my prize catch. And a shitless fear that a shifting wind or swell will swiftly vault me into the everlasting ocean.

“’But man is not made for defeat,’ he said. ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’”

Champagne for my real friends.

Real pain for my sham friends. TC mark

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