Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't Tweeze Your Life Away

I'm about to give you the deepest reading on tweezers that you have ever read. Yes, deeper than all of those other readings on tweezers that you have on your bookshelves.

I have a love/hate relationship with my tweezers.
I love them because it bugs me when there are hairs about that I don't want, and with tweezers I can easily eliminate it. And I don't know if anyone has noticed, but pulling out an obnoxious, unwanted hair is really satisfying. (Is this just me? Is that a really freaky confession?)

I hate them because they're the reason that I'm bugged by the unwanted hair in the first place. Why did I ever start picking away at my eyebrows? Why do any of us? Just because Carmindy tells us we should? And I know why and probably won't stop, but it's really, really annoying - especially when you just want to get that hair out and you can't quite get it. You know what I'm talking about. (Or this is all a very freaky confession, as postulated above.)

And the more I think about it, the more I think this is what I do with my life in general. I pick away at the little, insignificant imperfections that no one else notices and I pick at them obsessively. But it never makes my life better to just keep plucking at it. Thinking about the things I didn't finish (or even attempt) today makes me feel sick to my stomach, but it doesn't make them done. Thinking about the imperfections with the little things about the way I look just makes me dissatisfied with the overall product without making anything better.

Sometimes I feel like the picture I've included here (which, by the way, displays the freckle in my eye). It's like I have perfectly plucked eyebrows but forgot to wash all of the green dust off my face. I don't want that to be my life. I want to focus on making myself better in the big things in life instead of getting stymied by the little things that I just can't . . . quite . . . get . . .

My final thought comes from T.S. Eliot. I was re-reading some of his poems the other night (because I promised my roommate that anyone could enjoy poetry if he or she didn't have boring poetry rammed down his or her throat and I was trying to decide whether "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" could fall into the category of "not boring poetry" for someone who isn't me) and I came across these lines:
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 of a father room.
So how should I presume?
The first part of this is the part that everyone remembers, and I've always liked it, but the part that stuck out to me this time was "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." I like that imagery of measuring your life with an action so insignificant and precise, always wondering whether you could presume to know or do more than is expected of someone in so tiny a life as yours. The problem is that if we wait and wonder "Do I dare and do I dare?" for too long, our life ends up like Prufrock, with us saying, "That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all."

So you can take this literally or figuratively. Worry less about your tweezers (or whatever tiny thing bugs you about your appearance) and/or worry less about the tiny, precise things that bother you about your life and think more in terms of presuming than in terms of measuring with tiny spoons.


Lin said...

I got to read this before everyone else and (as is often the case) I had comments to make. Now they all escape me because I read this late at night and promptly fell asleep and forgot all comments that make sense.

Still, I love this post. I focus too much on the small stuff and pick and pick and pick till there's nothing left to pick and it does absolutely no good. I don't, however, tweeze my eyebrows on a regular basis. If only I could change my view on everything else to go along with how I groom my eyebrows!

And, no, those are not freaky confessions. I have this one long, black side burn hair that grows out of nowhere (it's just all of a sudden there one day) and it's close enough to my hair that no one else would notice, but I pluck that thing with gusto and it makes me so very happy when it's gone.

Emily said...

I think we're soul mates. I love everything about this poem. And I often walk about with "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons" stuck in my head.

I had never thought about the tweezer metaphor though. I might plagiarize it sometime.

Janssen said...

The first week in London? I tweezed a gap right into my eyebrow. Awesome.

Whitney said...

This is great and definitely a good reminder. Thanks!