The Age of the Possible


Maria Popova – TRANSCEND Media Service

at the bottom of being,
where the water that makes
this planet a world
is the color of spacetime

the octopus —

with her body-shaped mind
and her eight-arm embrace
of alien realities,
with her colorblind vision
sightful of polarized light
and her perpetually awestruck
lidless eye —

can see

shades of blue we cannot conceive.

Call it god
if you must
lean on the homely
to fathom the holiness
of the fathomless whole.

And meanwhile,
up here,
we swim amid particles
we cannot perceive
folded into dimensions
we cannot imagine

to tell stories about
what is real and
what is possible,
and what it means to be.

A blink of time ago
we thought the octopus
we thought this blue world
below three hundred fathoms
until in 1898
an epoch after Bach
scribbled in the margin
of a composition
“Everything that is possible is real” —
we plunged our prosthetic eye
deep into the blue
and found a universe of life.

the octopus,
godless and possible,

Are any of her three hearts breaking
for us
and our impossible blues?


  My name is Maria Popova — a reader, a wonderer, and a lover of reality who makes sense of the world and herself through the essential inner dialogue that is the act of writing. The Marginalian (which bore the unbearable name Brain Pickings for its first 15 years) is my one-woman labor of love, exploring what it means to live a decent, inspired, substantive life of purpose and gladness. Founded in 2006 as a weekly email to seven friends, eventually brought online and now included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive, it is a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually, poetically — drawn from my extended marginalia on the search for meaning across literature, science, art, philosophy, and the various other tendrils of human thought and feeling. A private inquiry irradiated by the ultimate question, the great quickening of wonderment that binds us all: What is all this? (More…)


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Jun 2022.

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One Response to “The Age of the Possible”

  1. William Hathaway says:

    A fine poem, Maria! You give us a very tactile experience of the underwater realm, then show us the deeper meaning at the bottom.