I was a giant book nerd in high school. No surprise there, right? I am the one willingly writing a blog that has basically no audience other than my close friends who check in to see how I am doing. I’m not a world traveler, I don’t have any interesting hobbies, and I hope to live a simple but successful life.
I was an AP English student in high school. Wrote essays every day in class as “practice” for the AP test at the end of the year. Of all the books and poems I read, quotes I picked apart until they were nothing more than black marks on off-white paper, two have stuck with me. The first is Meditation XVII by John Donne.
We were given an excerpt of this piece to analyze, and were instructed to write what it meant to us in two pages during the first half of class.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. – John Donne
Most of my classmates had trouble understanding what it meant, a fact upon which my teacher commented after reading our papers. Only a handful had written anything worth reading. The year before I had very suddenly lost a friend to pneumonia, so I knew very well what it meant to me. He had a cough on Friday and they pulled him off life support four, very short days later, on Tuesday morning. I was called to the office to be there for my friends; so we could go see a counselor together, and then be excused to go home or wander the campus. None of us went to class that afternoon. That was the day I realized that I am not immortal. Seems so silly, I can see why that sounds ridiculous, but don’t you remember being fifteen and thinking the whole world was yours for taking? I remember feeling invincible… And then suddenly, I wasn’t anymore.
I prayed last night that I would wake up feeling less alone. The fact of the matter is that I do spend a majority of my day on my own, but that is a separate fact from feeling alone. The words “no man is an island” were ringing in my head when I woke up before my alarm this morning. No man is an island. I may feel alone, may be alone, but I am not. Like it or not, we are all connected in ways we cannot possibly understand. It’s part of that whole six degrees of separation – the theory that every person on this planet is connected by a chain of six other people. I am connected to you because my sister has a friend who knows your cousin’s friend, who knows your aunt, who knows your mom, who knows you… Or something like that. I don’t feel alone today, and I hope anyone who might stumble across this doesn’t either, because now you know me.
.. That’s all I have for now. My mind has been pulled away into a pool of thoughts that would likely make no sense if written down. I will write about that other piece of literature that has stuck with me over the years at another time.