The 365 Commitment

Shantih shantih shantih

The Hindu concluding mantra emphasizing peace is the final phrase of T.S. Eliot’s poem called The Waste Land. If you have not read that poem, then I suggest diving in. You can find a good link to it here at the Poetry Foundation. I bring this up, because the poem just feels oddly appropriate right now. Let me give you some background.

T.S. Eliot was a Boston native, born before the turn of the 20th century, in 1888. He was born into an upper middle class family, father a business owner and mother was a social worker. He struggled as a young man, having a physical ailment that caused him to be inside reading books rather then playing. He became quite the reader, enthralled by the popular American Literature that had gone through its own renaissance with the popularity of writers like Mark Twain.

He ultimately went to Harvard and worked toward a doctorate degree in Philosophy, but never really completed. There are some papers published in his name, nothing exciting. He ultimately went overseas to Paris to continue his studies. After some back and after falling in love with someone, he won a scholarship and found himself at Oxford right around when the First World War broke out. He does a lot of interesting things, I read a biography on him that was quite enthralling, but the life of Eliot is not my point.

He marries a Cambridge woman named Vivienne and tries to live happily. That does not work out. He works odd jobs, school teacher, banker, literary critic and moves around quite a bit. He was married at age 22, tried to work things out, however after several years in 1922 he publishes this poem called the Waste Land in 1922. He was about 34 years old at the time. The devastation of World War I was everywhere, society was depressed, his wife was depressed, he was miserable. Society just went through this really tough time. He was going through a tough time. Many people after its publication said that he represented the entire population of Europe, and their disillusionment with every thing post war.

T.S. Eliot did not intend that, he just wrote how he felt in a very obscure way. The desire to break free from this motif, this idea of being reminded constantly of this just discouraged pathetic feeling. I will let you read it and come to your own conclusions. The poem is complex, changes viewpoint and mixes sarcasm and satire frequently. Uses references that are hard to understand. However, if you read it slowly and contemplate the meaning – you will start to understand.

I for one, feel much like he did. I am tired of staring at the same four walls. I am losing my will to sustain any more COVID anything. I want to get away from this and get out again. See something new, see some people, enjoy the sunshine again.

Guy Reams

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