Lately, T.S. Eliot has been on my mind. Specifically, "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock." The words of this poem kept coming into my mind during meditation this weekend. And re-reading it in light of mindfulness brings it alive in a different way for me. (This poem has always been dear to my heart.)
The experience of this poem is oh so human. It is, in fact, raw. And there are lines that stand out to me:
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
If we observe our minds- this truth is resounding. The things we go
through in a minute's time. The doubts and fears and plans and reversals
of plans- the judgements and emotions, etc. It can be exhausting.
the "Do I dare" is a line that has always been meaningful to me, in
different ways over different parts of my life. Most recently, I can
connect it to how we all question our own worthiness. But what right do
we have to do that? We question our goodness and whether or not we
deserve some thing or another. Even our own love. So do I dare disturb
the universe with this mind of mine? And these silly questions? And this
existence I'm not so sure of? Well, of course I dare. Because I am
The main voice speaks of his life and his fear. Of what he is not, and what he deserves. He questions his own worthiness. And the words of the poem are populated with the nitty gritty details of life- the hair on the arms of the women, the collar mounting to the chin, etc. And in the space between- the question. The overwhelming question, no less. And the one that is never outrightly asked.
The speaker is afraid to ask it, though it rests there ripe in his mouth. And the best line,
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
I love this image. The moment at its crisis. And don't we all wonder? Do we dare to meet the moment at its crisis? Right there, raw, exactly as it is, full of our fear or discomfort or questions or doubts? Do we have the strength to truly be present? To allow ourselves the space of being where nothing must be done? Where we do not hide from that raw reality?
I've learned a lot lately about Freedom from Reluctance. The reluctance we all have to meet the moment. There are so many excuses and so many distractions. But we can find that strength and bravery (because it takes an awful lot of it) to be present. With ourselves and with others, and finally in the world.
We can let go of fear, and of what others may think (as Eliot illustrates so wonderfully in this poem- it always goes back to someone else saying, "that is not it at all"). We have this freedom to simply be.
And this is a lovesong to ourselves. Our most authentic selves. Our true beings.
If you want to be moved, listen to Eliot read this aloud. His voice and manner of speaking are so wonderful.