Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
And then I grew up.
because man...they wrote some serious poetry. Prufrock is no exception. An overly simplified and quick summary of the poem is that it is the lamentation of a middle-aged man about growing older. I return every semester to this poem to introduce it to my poor students who see it as a mild form of torture. It's "long" and "boring" to them and most only understand a tiny piece of it after lengthy explanation from me. But that's because my students, for the most part, have not yet learned to allow themselves to be completely swept up in a poem's world, completely carried away by a poem's mythos. When I finally allowed myself to inhabit Prufrock's words and mind, this poem clicked for me.
The lines above are delivered at the end of a series of statements and questions Prufrock has about what feels like it might be his wasted life. When he says, "Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?" he's asking a simple question about the value of his existence. Does he matter? Should he bother?
And here my lecture concludes -- because tonight, I saw J. Alfred's question answered in the most unlikely place -- on YouTube -- and by an even more unlikely candidate -- Jim Carrey.
"You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worried about the pathway to the future but all there will ever be is what's happening here and the decisions we make in this moment which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the universe for it."
It is spooky to me how well these two texts speak together. When Eliot writes, "in a minute there is time/ for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse," he is speaking directly to the notion that "all there will ever be is what's happening here and the decisions we make in this moment." Of course, Eliot's text is full of indecision and fear and, mostly, insecurity and Carrey's speech is meant to inspire and to inspire faith. Both texts, though, bring up the notion of daring to do something to the universe. Eliot wonders if he should "dare/ Disturb the universe" with what he wants and Carrey implies that we should "dare to ask the universe" for what we want.
Carrey tells us that the minute-by-minute decisions we make are either based in love or fear. We leave Prufrock in his wondering, we don't get to see which side he chooses though there is a fair amount of fear in him. Carey urges us to make decisions based in love. In the full commencement speech, Carrey explains that fear tells us we will never be enough but that it is our job to relax, let the universe know what we want and have intense faith that what we want will, eventually come to pass.
"The imagination is always manufacturing scenarios both good and bad and the ego tries to keep you trapped in the multiplex of the mind. Our eyes are not [just] viewers, they are also projectors that are running a second story over the picture that we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script and the working title is, 'I'll never be enough...
Relax, and dream up a good life...
as far as I can tell it's just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass. Your job is not to figure out how it's going to happen for you but to open the door in your head and when the door opens in real life, just walk through it...
Take a chance on faith. Not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don't believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire and Faith leaps over it." -Jim Carrey
This is so interesting to me. Part of the conversation I had with my Naturopath today was about how I wish I knew more about various aspects of this surgery. I was sort of frantic about it and then she said, "You want to control as much as you can about this surgery." She said this with a little smirk on her face. The smirk said, "but you know you can't control this surgery, right?"
This surgery was not part of my plan. It was not part of what I asked the Universe for. But a few years ago, I dared to ask the Universe to let me be a triathlete and that came to pass. And then, I dared to ask the Universe to let me be fit enough to actually get better and faster at triathlons and that came to pass. And then, I dared to ask the Universe to let me make this whole fitness/ athlete/ lifter/ tri-training thing an integral part of me and that started to come to pass -- and then the Universe threw this wall up at me. But it's not my job to worry about how it comes to pass. The Universe threw a wall up and now the Universe has presented a way through the wall. It is not a way I would have chosen myself but, again, that's not my job. My only job is to have Faith and Courage and Love.
I adore what Carrey says here about the difference between Hope and Faith. I understand how "Hope" seems weaker. "I hope things work out" is a much weaker statement than "I have faith that things will work out." The difference in the two words is the amount of effort involved in each. It is easy to hope for things. I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow. I hope my daughter learns to ride her bicycle without training wheels this summer. These sentiments seem a little lackadaisical -- as if, well, I mean, I hope it'll happen but I'm not really invested in whether it does or not. To say "I have faith..." implies that there is work being done, there is an investment of self into this outcome. "I have faith that my daughter will learn to ride her bicycle without training wheels this summer" implies that I'm willing to do something about it and that I believe truly it will happen.
"Hope walks through the fire and Faith leaps over it." This is now my mantra. "Faith leaps over the fire." I will not drudge myself through this surgery using the weak feeling of hope. I will have faith that everything is going to be just fine and that this is the Universe's strange way of making what I dared to ask it for come to pass.
For my teammates, my coaches, my cheerleaders, my fans: Have you dared to ask the Universe for what you want? Are you prepared to let go of how whatever you want comes to pass? Are you prepared to accept the little bumps and twists and turns while still remaining on the path? Go ahead. Disturb the Universe. Have faith.
And, in the meantime...
Cook and eat with love.
Vaya Con Dios & Namaste