On Existential Comfort

The More Loving One
W.H. Auden

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all starts to disappear or die, I Should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

Comforting nihilism. That’s my brand. Life is meaningless and that’s what keeps me living it.

It’s counter-intuitive, I know. I’ve spent many a late night sleepover staring at whichever dark ceiling, trying to articulate how I feel about the unfeeling universe. Like most of the time I fumble trying to put something into words, it just confuses people further. Apparently W.H. Auden gets it—although I don’t exactly agree on not missing stars doing the day, I love space—and did it with one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. “If equal affection cannot be, / Let the more loving one be me.” Damn, Wystan.

When I do mostly succeed at explaining, though, it generally comes to this:

To me, the universe doesn’t care, and it is incredibly reassuring. I can fuck up as much as I want, succeed or fail in any endeavor, and it doesn’t matter one way or the other. In the grand scheme of things, my mistakes mean nothing.

To me, the universe’s utter indifference means safety. The lack of cosmic importance present in my missteps is like gentle starry hands there to catch me if I fall, or at least, to not point and laugh.

To me, the universe not caring is the greatest gift it could ever give me, because if it doesn’t matter forever then it’s easier to worry less.

…But that’s just me. And W.H. Auden, so I guess I’m in good company.


Published by

Keaton Coleman

Cat enthusiast & self-proclaimed indie rock connoisseur. Former senior staff writer for Garage Music News, currently a university student, eternally a poet.

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