Reading "The Layers" is like following a roadmap for the human condition. Kunitz takes us beneath the surface of things and into "the layers," challenging the idea that life is short and depressing. Through conscious exploration, the speaker reflects on the meaning of trials and tribulations from his past as he looks towards the future.
At times, he feels disconnected, disheartened, and questions whether he should continue. Yet, he's determined to persevere and combat those down-and-out feelings. Just as a ship caught in a storm looks to a lighthouse for direction, the speaker digs deep to find guidance out of the darkness. He embraces the ups and downs of life as stepping stones, leading him on a never-ending path of growth and renewal.