During life’s journey, we get to see and experience a lot and these are the things that change us and shape us into what we are today and what we will be in the future. Stanley Kunitz is not an exception to this. In his poem, “The Layers”, he says, ‘I have walked through many lives, some of them my own, and I am not who I was’. This shows: That he has gone through so much in his life as many have too. Second, not all the experiences directly happened to him, however, he took the chance to learn from them all, whether his or other’s experiences and through it all, he has changed as a person.
“The Layers” is a metaphorical analysis of the narrator’s life. He admits that his life has been structured in layers that he must undergo one step at a time, where in each phase, he encounters varying pressures that make him a different person. Learning does not seem to end if one is alive. Stanley talks of walking through a wreckage that depicts turmoil and conflict. His struggles gave him the strength to push forward and that developed a resilience in him. Every time he goes through something, he has a belief that he will emerge through successfully.
In another instance, he states, “manic dust of my friends, those who fell along the way, bitterly stings my face”. He refers to the dust as a memory of his friend’s death that keep coming back to him. This shows the being part of him. As we go through life,...
there are certain experiences that are too personal and painful to forget. Their effects may not be direct and most times such experiences break us emotionally and mentally as well as giving us mixed and dispersed emotions as he states, “Oh, I have made myself a tribe out of my true affection and my tribe is scattered”. Despite the pain he felt and the adversity he went through, he looks at the experience as precious stones on his road of life. Not just the experiences he has gone through, but also the experiences he is about to go through in the near future.
Strength is built from the past and so is the future. For one to be strong and flexible enough to overtake challenges that are ahead, they have to remember what they have been through and where they have come from. The past builds you and Stanley concurs by saying, “When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before I gather my strength to proceed on my journey…” Strength is only gained by accepting what happened, appreciating your breakthrough and learning from the challenge. Whether what you were trying to achieve succeeded or not, there is a lesson to it. Sometimes the heart does not heal fast enough to do the mentioned and so Stanley wonders, “How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?”
Sometimes it may seem lonely like Stanley’s abandoned campsites but moving on from each challenge gives you the chance to grow and be able to fight the next
as he says, “Live in the layers not in the litter”. Do no pity yourself, appreciate the challenge and live to fight another day. Embrace all challenges and change in life, since they never stop until life stops.