Why is it so hard for me to think?

July 26, 2009

Lately I’ve had a difficult time concentrating, and sometimes when that happens my mind turns back to some of my favorite authors. I’ve found that like meditation, reconsidering their words can be soothing and focusing. This time I’ve been visiting W.H. Auden. That will be no surprise to those who know I’m a big fan of his poem The More Loving One, which I’m often caught quoting on outdoor walks at night.

Openly gay and very religious in his later years, Auden considered himself married to his partner Chester Kallman, and along with other of his works, The More Loving One focused on Auden’s fascination with unrequited love, including what Auden often felt to be his unmatched love for his partner. But it contains a wonderful ambiguity. Reading it, I can’t decide who Auden meant as the object of his love in this poem. I see love for another person but also something else: the resigned view of one who’s decided that the universe and its deities aren’t everything that we’d like them to be. But in both cases, the speaker has decided to carry on loving, because being a loving person is what he prefers himself to be.

So what does this have to do with thinking?