Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The World Around Us

Sometimes we forget that life doesn't revolve around ourselves. That's the feeling I get after reading Elizabeth Bishops poem "Filling Station". "Somebody embroidered the doily" (Bishop 2707) this line specifically gave me the feeling of the moment you notice another family in a restaurant, people whose lives have nothing to do with yours. People that most likely will never have an impact on you and yet you notice them, you see them. Who are they, what do they do? At first the poet only sees the filling station for what it is, she doesn't truly notice the people,  they have no bearing on her life but then she looks closer. She sees their personalities, she sees that to them this isn't just a filling station. It might not necessarily be relevant to her life but it is to theirs and she sees that, she questions it. She wonders who these people are, what their world consists of and in truly seeing them she appreciates them, she has a love for them and their truth. I think this is beautiful, to stop thinking about your own life for a moment to really see someone else's. To see their reality and to value that. I think when she questions the filling stations decorations on the porch she's relating it all to herself and that's why to her it doesn't all seem to make sense. But it's important to remove yourself from the surroundings and just observe without personal judgment. Once she does that she sees the reason behind the decorations that she thought seemed odd. She understood that this filling station is loved, these people are loved and it has nothing to do with her. And that's beautiful. I wish more people could see the world and things around them like Bishop does in this poem, to take a moment to remove yourself and appreciate someone else's life despite it having nothing to do with them. But is this possible? Should people see the world through such innocent eyes? Was the poet wrong to not question the living conditions of this family, these children that the comics belonged to? Is living somewhere that could catch fire and explode an adequate living situation for kids? Was Bishop's original assessment still valid, or should her realization that this isn't just another gas station negate her previous feelings and observations all together?


  1. I really enjoyed this one. It made me think about how different people are everywhere, and that what I am used to isn't what so many other people are used to. Different styles of life make people happy everywhere.

  2. You made some great points! It's important to remember that families are families provincial areas still like to look special and feel that homeiness too (the doiles etc). It reminds me of when I was growing up in a very small, pretty well off town. My family was one of the few lower middle class families in a town with a high school that only had about 500 in attendance. I grew up in a three family house on a street that otherwise had huge, beautiful homes. My house looked fine on the outside, comically so I think with pink aluminium siding and two big goofy looking mismatched trees in the front. My dad did all the repair work on the old house because our landlord did nothing. We moved out six and a half years ago and I went by my old block about a week ago. Within a year after we had left, the two other tenants had moved out as well, and apparently no one else has moved in. My childhood home now has bright orange signs on it signifying it as a Condemned Property and it's half being torn down, half falling down. The identical house behind it that my friend grew up in is now covered in vines and bramble, completely overgrown. The other houses on our old block however have all gone under major renovations and additions, making them more palatial than ever before. I don't know if the same people still live there but I distinctly recall not going trick-or-treating o n my own block because no one ever gave out candy, and they'd always be home. None of these outward appearances tell us anything about the people within. I had a lovely childhood filled with hand crafted birthdays and a lot of homemade furniture, many of the people in these large homes were rude and even unkind to any children on their quiet street. If you never saw my home you'd think only some of the richest in the town lived there, whereas my old home now looks post apocalyptic, like something out of The Hunger Games. I learned very quickly (because of that house) how deceiving the outside could be, however our suburban ideals can make it a hard lesson to learn.

  3. Kayla,
    I would agree with this interpretation were it not for that last line: "Somebody loves us all." Bishop intentionally brings us into it with that "us."