An Aesthete’s Ode

I’ve talked with numerous students over the years. There are the students who set out to achieve and achieve; those that do not set out to achieve and succeed in not achieving; and those that set out to achieve but underachieve.

It’s the latter class that I have a particular affinity for, as I pity the achievers: what pleasure is life if each desire is satiated? – infinite donuts provides a diminishing return. I pity “ unachievers” as well, since a lack of desire is worse than a satisfaction that blunts the senses.

But the underachievers – ah, the underachievers, the ones who have lofty goals but fail to achieve them or have great potential but fail to live up to it – oh, those I love. What can be more lovely that never achieving the prize? It will forever be beyond reach, never changing, always tantantalizing, always desirable. It will never lose its luster as a result of possession – owning will never diminish its value. It will always be perfect, pristine, lovely.

How I love the underachievers. They, perhaps, are closer than anyone to the true form of beauty – because they never have it to discover its flaws. It will remain perfect forever.

How I love the underachievers. Always desiring, always moving, roaming the sallow plains in search of a prey that cannot be found:

 Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And, happy melodist, unwearied, 
         For ever piping songs for ever new; 
More happy love! more happy, happy love! 
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d, 
                For ever panting, and for ever young; 
All breathing human passion far above, 
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d, 
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 

John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn