What a perfect poem for a drizzly, gray day. A day when school wheezes and grinds itself back into motion, inevitably, after a delicious three-day break. A break that seemed to stretch out languidly into eternity, right up until the moment I realized I needed to get dressed for class.
Perfectionism and procrastination are a lethal combination. I should vacuum or take a shower, but to do so correctly -- the best, most deliberate and thorough way -- would take a long time and more energy than I can summon at present. So I wait and wait until the opportunity disappears altogether, and I have to smile and open the door to a dirty carpet or tie my hair back in a scarf and make the best of it.
This morning, though, I was showered and dressed and ready to leave a full half-hour before I needed to be. So I stared at my reflection in the mirror, satisfied but not pleased, and removed a tiny glint of silver from my scalp.
One hair. Barely more than an inch long. I pulled it more out of curiosity than vanity (I actually think gray hair is very attractive) and turned it over and over in my hand, studying it.
I am not yet thirty, but I've found one of these every few weeks or so for about the last six months. And I don't fear aging, but there is a melancholy that accompanies any death, even the death of a youthful coiffure. In fact, I'm fading at both ends: my feet ache constantly, terribly, a result of plantar fasciitis that set in around the same time. Until our insurance changes and I can get a referral to a podiatrist (I'm self-diagnosed at present) this means no more running. It hurts too much. I love to run, and I know it's good for me, but Time has won, at least for now.
Enter Prufrock, closer to my personal ethos than I could ever articulate on my own. I have been thinking about him all day, longing to embrace his words of despair, self-doubt, worried indecision, fear of obscurity:
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
But among these, there is also language so compelling it demands we pay attention, here, now, or we will miss the beauty all around us -- even as we march inexorably onward with our flaws intact:
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
I've been in love with Prufrock since Mrs. Luke read him to us in tenth-grade English. Sometimes I think I am Prufrock. And if I am he, I'm okay with that if my malaise sounds half so stunning in print.