Day 75: “All That We See or Seem…”

This entry probably is going to wind up being a bit more rambling than usual, mainly because I didn’t start writing it until a little after ten (and I’m trying to get it finished – and posted – before midnight).

The title of the post is a reference to one of my favorite bits of poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, from his poem “A Dream Within a Dream” —

All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

As I was driving through town today, I heard a radio ad for an Edgar Allan Poe-themed Halloween event at a local restaurant.

Whenever I think about Poe, I’m never quite sure how I’m supposed to feel. Part of me feels guilty whenever I read – and enjoy – his work, and part of my feels inspired. (I have a similar reaction whenever I see one of Van Gogh’s paintings – especially “Starry Night,” but that’s another post for another day.)

The part of me that feels guilty feels guilty because I know that I’m probably reading something that was inspired (at least in part) by Poe’s lifetime of struggles with isolation, loss, and rejection, and (as strange as it probably sounds) I always feel kind of bad about enjoying something that came from such a dark place.

The part of me that feels inspired feels inspired because Poe’s body of work – appreciated more after his death during his life – stands not only as a remarkable literary output but also as a reminder that we have no idea what kind of impact our lives might have, even if they seem to us like they don’t make any sense at all. It reminds me that there’s always hope that we (and what we do) matters, even when it seems like nothing about us (or what we do) makes any difference to anyone. It makes me hope that Edgar – sometime, somehow, in this world or the next – realized just how much his life and work meant to the world. And it makes me remember how important it is for us to remind other people how much they mean to us.

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