My seniors have a final English assignment to write a crime story from the criminal’s point of view. I couldn’t pry even a hint of a story from any of them.
I thought of poor Frankenstein’s monster and Grendel and Jekyll and Hyde, and I wondered whether the students pitied the monsters that the characters created. What had these students taken from the year?
I thought of my senior final exam prompt: “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty.’ Keats wrote it. Prove it.” I can’t remember what I wrote that hour, but I didn’t walk away disappointed with myself.
Knowing me, I probably amply and intentionally disproved it.
I always pitied the monster.
That, and Keats broke my heart. His beauty preserved joy in an eternally painful state of almost. The dream is never realized because we are always reaching for what’s already in front of us. That or rowing against the current, moving forward toward the past. The pursuit of joy steals the joy right from under us.
We are our own monsters. And I pity mine. She’s always reaching, static in her pursuit.
I am a criminal robbing myself, knowingly and completely drowning myself in want and torturing myself with the almost.
I hope these students walk away with more than a diploma. I hope they realize that this whole time, they’ve been reading and writing about themselves. I hope they open their eyes to find joy at their feet and destroy the criminal within. I hope they learned at least that much.