Forum Friday: Islands and Worlds

You may have heard the famous John Donne quote,

No man is an island.

And yet, another great poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, says this:

For the creator must be  a world for himself and find everything in himself and in Nature to whom he has attached himself.

Can’t be an island. Must be a world. Huh.

Likely this seeming paradox is just another resolved with the call for balance between extremes, but nonetheless I am curious to hear other people’s thoughts on this matter– and particularly on the Rilke quote above. What does “being a world for yourself” mean to you, as a writer (or artist)?

Or better, perhaps: What do you do to find a happy medium between the extremes: between being connected with others, but being able to turn inward and find everything you need?

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13 thoughts on “Forum Friday: Islands and Worlds

  1. I’m happy just jumping between the two extremes I think – I’m not sure if there is a happy medium. I see Rilke’s quote as meaning that the creator must get lost in his/her own world (or his/her own thoughts) to make sense of the real world but that creative thoughts spring up from everything around the creator in the real world. It reminds me of when I look at something and think, ‘Ohhh, pretty…’ and then get lost in my own head wondering about the thing I’m looking at. That’s where I disappear to when I get in ‘the writing zone’ too!

    • So, I’ve never seen ‘Inception’, but I’ve heard it referred to enough that I have a concept of what it is, and what you’re describing sounds very much to me like my *concept* of Inception. Bad comparison?? Hahaha…

      I like your interpretation though! I definitely see the internal world as influenced by the external one…though what each person perceives with an ‘ohhh, pretty’ and how the mind pursues said object must invariably differ! ‘The writing zone’…hahaha, is it bad that I immediately associate that with ‘the twilight zone’?

      • I love ‘Inception’ – definitely would recommend that you watch it! Whereas in ‘Inception’ they build worlds in dreams, I guess I’m building worlds in my head when I’m writing. ‘The writer zone’ is hopefully less creepy than ‘the twilight zone’ though – plus it’s fun to zone out!

  2. Our perception dictates our perceived reality, whatever True Reality might be we’re never going to perceive it unless we remove the self from mind and spirit. We’re all islands, or worlds depending on your point of view, separated by the water that is our perception of the true world we think we belong to. Funny thing is, islands and continents, if we look beneath the water, are all one connected land mass.

    When people interact their worlds collide and we try to make sense of the explosion. We change our own worlds and the worlds of others by just breathing, talking, seeing. That’s why, even though we are islands we are all connected. We’re interactive islands? Haha. Did this make any sense?

    • You, my friend, know how to work a metaphor! I love the point you make about islands being connected beneath the surface. That’s not something we often hear– and what a great thought to have if you’re feeling disconnected!

  3. I like to connect with others by my own choosing – via art events, teaching, attending cultural events, spending time with friends and family, etc. At times, however, I can find all of the being present for others to be overwhelming. I live with PTSD, panic and bipolar disorder.

    When the overwhelm begins to set in, I pull back and take time for myself. That is the core of well-being and self-love, in my world.

    • Forgive the expression of ‘grounded,’ when we’re talking about islands and worlds, but I think it describes something important (and what you refer to): making time for oneself and loving oneself. I commend you for doing just that. I think we must be grounded in ourselves before we can really be at ease either on our own or in connecting with others. So bravo!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Paulissa!

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