the islands of the imagination

There is a peculiar quality about being alone, an atmosphere that no sounds or persons can ever give. It is as if being with people were the Earth of the mind, the land with its hills and valleys, scent and music: but in being alone, the mind finds its Sea, the wide quiet plane with different lights in the sky and different, more secret sounds. But it appears that we are frightened by the first breaking of its waves at our feet…

from On Being Alone by Elizabeth Bishop

on the name of this blog

Everyone’s a building burning
with no one to put the fire out.
Standing at the window looking out,
waiting for time to burn us down.
Everyone’s an ocean drowning
with no one really to show how.

Blame it on the Tetons, Modest Mouse

After more than three years of this blog, I still love the name I chose and I still think about it all the time. Everyone’s an ocean. It is so true. We all search for that person who saves us from drowning, but we cannot be saved because we are not the swimmer. We are the ocean. Even in those moments when you are lying beside the person you love and things are quiet and it seems like there is nothing else in the world except that exact moment, all you truly have are your own feelings of love and happiness. You are fulfilled in a moment like that because you have decided that is what will make you feel fulfilled, not because the other person actually fills you up. They haven’t put your fire out, you have. No one can save you from drowning but yourself. This thought is at once empowering and depressing.

Everyone’s an ocean. I know this. Is is very important to know this. But I feel as though I have to teach it to myself over again every single day.

“Why was it that we always derstood each other?”

And he swam through the blue daytime ocean and the navy storming ocean, the cold black ocean under a moon or a half moon or no moon at all, and each night of his swimming a different moon was there, and the moon’s slow wink was all for him, for his solitude, for his dedication, for his perseverance, for his tiny little self that kept going on across the constant plane of water, water, water and no one who loved him and nothing he knew and no others to swim with at all. I wonder if he ever came to depend on the great nothing he’d found out there, to spend time with it like it was his only friend, his whole community, the lover he loved the most. I wonder if the nothing became something to him; I wonder if that happened because it had to, because otherwise he’d collapse under the weight of his isolation.

excerpted from (Unsent Unwritten letter to Husband) by Catherine Lacey on elimae.

This story is incredible. Seriously. Wow. Can someone please submit something this good to Hot Metal Bridge now, please?