Measuring Out Life in Coffee Spoons
“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a
minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already,
known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?” – T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
I wonder if I would have enjoyed the company of T.S. Eliot. I’m fairly sure I’d have hit it off with Mary Oliver, and with Robert Frost, but I don’t always click with old T.S. But this poem, one of his most famous, offers that bold question; Do I dare disturb the universe? and I smile, for I too feel like I’ve measured out my life with coffee spoons. Maybe there’s more to T.S. than I originally thought. The better question would be whether he’d enjoy my company? That has to be earned too: Want to be in the conversation? Have something to say.
To write publicly is to answer the call. Whether the universe chooses to pay attention or not is another story, but in chipping away at it one small measure at a time, we see more, and put more out there to be seen, we get better. Roosevelt’s man in the arena comes to mind. Be on the field doing it. Nothing else matters. Is there futility in the work? Perhaps, but the work offers its own path in the universe. I write knowing there’s so much more to it than this. This is showing up, it’s not poking the bear and disturbing the universe. Provocation requires more skin in the game. Blood and sweat mixing in the dirt. There’s more to do.