A Fixed Idea

Black bird. Free image via Pixabay.
A Fixed Idea
Amy Lowell

What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant; and however kind,
However welcome still, the weary mind
Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught
Remembers on unceasingly; unsought
The old delight is with us but to find
That all recurring joy is pain refined,
Become a habit, and we struggle, caught.
You lie upon my heart as on a nest,
Folded in peace, for you can never know
How crushed I am with having you at rest
Heavy upon my life. I love you so
You bind my freedom from its rightful quest.
In mercy lift your drooping wings and go.

Hello, this is a casual reminder that there is a big world out there. You don't have to be in isolation to forget that. But now that most of us are literally stuck in one place, our minds must be feeling a little too anchored at one mental space as well. And that anchor might be hard to lift when it's time to move on.

We do fall in love with an idea. I am not sure if it was Jonathan Culler who said it, but I'm pretty sure that I've read it in one those those theory books that we were required to read in graduate school. Anyway, the thought goes: Students support the theory that they understand. Meaning — and it makes sense — if you don't get past that first level of understanding, then there's no chance for you to go deeper into a certain theory. Even if that is, or that would be the better theory.

And I think, speaking of being stuck, we're already cut out from the many perspectives and ideas from different people and cultures. What I'm saying is right now we don't even have the chance to misunderstand others' viewpoints, because we aren't exposed to them.

And sometimes, as in the Amy Lowell poem, we fall in love and marry an idea, and then die with it. Worst-case scenario.

This is me wishing everyone a healthy state of mind. Where I am, friends are losing loved ones, closing their businesses, getting sick themselves. The quarantine may be forcing us to close our doors. But we do and should find a way to set our minds free.


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