In 1819 in the “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” John Keats writes:
“Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal – yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair”
In literary lobbies, the “Ode” is the most discussed and disputed of all of Keats’s poetry, having impressionable and lasting effect on generations of literature enthusiasts.
“The kiss that is never gained by the lover, though nearing it, will forever be longed for.”
During my senior year of High School, the “Ode” became a prime subject in my life. Years later, I have come to the realization that I have held on, not only to that same textbook from my English Literature class, but to that very concept, and have in fact used it to my defense on several occasions throughout my life.
Likewise, the impact of a relationship that enters our life can differ in range from momentous to insignificant, depending on the level of involvement and the depth of emotional attachment that we place on a particular person. Factoring in is also the ingredient that some of us possess more addictive personalities and possessive behaviors than others. At the end, we are left to ponder upon the following thought: What about a person draws us to the nearness of that individual, or if someone is simply passing by?
I write this not to be philosophically correct, nor do I hold any professional accreditations in human psychology, but I write it from the greatest teacher of all, life.
How do we resolve within ourselves to celebrate the lives of others who enter ours, without holding them hostage characters in our own chapters? Recognizing the role of a person in our life can have a pivotal impact on our self-esteem, and shapes our window to the world. Oftentimes than not, we ignore behaviors that signal unfulfilling destinies, not because we have not learned from previous lessons, but because our doctrines teach us to live in “hope,” and by design we are spiritual creatures having physical experiences, and thus attach ourselves to another soul. Also, in the hide, we all have our desperate moments and a sense of longing to belong to the culture of love. And so, we run to renew our subscriptions in the book of love, not realizing that in this instance, this person is not ours to hold past fifteen minutes of fame.
Learning to let go can be rewarding! As one person leaves our life, another one enters, the “self.” Looking inward and loving the self can be the greatest teacher. Loneliness does not always have to equate to isolation, but a freeing of the psyche and liberating of the emotions when we learn to detach ourselves from the known. As we move further into the unknown, it is there that silence yields endless possibilities, oftentimes tapping into our creativity. In fact, it is in these rare moments that some of the greatest discoveries have been made, and the best poetry written.
How far and how fast we evolve past our transgressions when we cease to gain affection from the other person depends on our own individual maturity. That in the absence of growth we tend to suffer, place blame elsewhere, and look like eccentric characters from a bad novel to those around us.
In homage to Keats’s Ode, I wonder how many of us continue to struggle with fictitious characters versus recognizing the mark in our path. In hindsight, do some of us set ourselves up for disappointment by engaging in relationships that set us free, because in essence we can not become captives, yet still trapped in our youth feel liberated when we are captivated? One final question that remains to be answered is to distinguish whether some of us were created to affect the world, and not so much to be affected by those whose paths cross ours. Perhaps we have graduated and become the teacher, and in our wake did not realize that we have left the student behind. Where is your thermostat set at?
John Keats (1795-1821), born in London, is considered one of the greatest English poets. Apprenticed to a surgeon, gave up surgery to write poetry. Among his famous sonnet is “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.”