Have you ever noticed how one tick of the clock isn’t a second — it’s the difference between the first tick and the next?

Gia Arora
3 min readOct 1, 2023
Ivan Aivazovsky, ‘Ship in a Stormy Sea’

Hello, beloved. That is what they call the subject of Shakespeare’s sonnets, did you know? The “thee” being remembered as long as “men shall breathe and eyes shall see”. The face behind the words. We could call their subjects by their names, of course, Mr. W. H. and the elusive dark lady. But isn’t it more romantic to define them by the only quality of theirs that is known? They were people, they had names, but above all, they were loved. It is lovely not knowing who they were, and only how they made Shakespeare feel.

Of course, you are not them. You are no one; you have no name. At least, still, you are loved. How does it feel, to be known despite not existing? Most people exist and are yet unknown. Is the opposite any better? I suppose it must be.

You, beloved, are a catalyst for my thoughts. You, beloved, are the object of my ministrations. You, beloved, are an idea, and ideas are always so much more powerful than anything else, because they live forever. Look at a lit candle, blow it out. The flame, a real thing, is gone. But the memory of its heat lingers on your cheeks. It remains a bright spot at the centre of your vision when you close your eyes.

Beloved, there is nothing I couldn’t write about you. Do you love me? That is one path to go down, to unravel the intricacies of love, reciprocated and love, winning. But oh, you love me not! Another flood of ideas, another slew of imagery. A broken heart beats out a song. Oh, to love. Oh, to be lovelorn.

Shakespeare compared you — well, not you, he was talking about an actual, concrete human being — to a summer’s day. I compare you to him. I compare you to all the versions of you that came before. The Hyacinthus to my Apollo, the Eurydice to my Orpheus, the Paolo to my Francesca. You are never the narrator, no, nor the recipient of the tragedy. I am Icarus, you are the sun. You could never be so human as to fly to me — your only job is to exist, to exist forever. And beloved, you are so terribly good at that. You are Patroclus, doomed so that Achilles can fight augury in your name.

You are neither Romeo nor Juliet. They each have too much agency, make too many choices. Therefore, of course, you are both.

You are a bit like the ocean. Some of us drown in you, some of us live for you, Ishmael calls you his “substitute for pistol and ball.” To some, you are the epitome of beauty, the depths of grace; you are the horizon, the sky, reflected. To others, you are tumultuous, tossed, defined by your tides and notorious for your squalls. You are a dangerous, reckless place, something to be afraid of and something to admire. Your ferocity is unrelenting, your subsequent calm is a breath of salt air. And to the remaining few, you are the corners of an incomplete map, the edges warning the hapless observer, “here be dragons.”

Put that way, you are also a bit like dragons.

Really, you’re a bit like anything.

Beloved, you surpass time, you rise above generations. The most fantastical thing about you is that there is nothing you can’t become, no metaphor you can’t be molded to fit. Everybody knows you; nobody knows you. You are the space between real and true. And you are both.