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Ishmael says that he could have written a science paper on climbing the coconut tree.
Ishmael was never able to climb the coconut tree. Then out of pure starvation he was magically able to climb the tree and grab the coconuts. He was so pumped about this that the next day when he had energy again he thought he would climb the tree again to gather some coconuts for his journey;however, without starvation and a desire to live, he was unable to once again climb the tree to obtain the source of his desire. This reminds me of the stories you hear about people having the strength to lift a car off a person in a time of crisis. When the life of death situation isn't present the ability to do the same things isn't present.