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In my Literary History class, we had to choose a work to write a research paper about. My professor was going down the list, briefly explaining the poems and essays. I heard one that piqued my interest and was SO excited. Nerd alert? Maybe. But, who cares?
I didn’t let anyone know of which one I was going for. I had a quiet smile on my lips as I thought of ideas for my paper. I even raised my hand and asked, “Can we choose now?” She laughed and responded with a sound “no”. But, I had no worries. I knew I would get the poem I wanted. I mean, I was sitting in the second row with NO ONE in front of me and the sign up sheet was probably like 8 feet away. My chances were oh so very high.
As soon as class ended, this…girl made a stampede for the desk and signed her name under the poem I wanted to write about! Guys. She literally ran from across the room! I told her, “That was the poem I wanted.” She replied with a sweet “sorry” and walked away. I was livid. I contained myself and went on with my day. I mean, it was just a paper, right?
Wrong. I ended up writing about Walt Whitman’s freaky sex piece, “Spontaneous Me”. It took me FOREVER to finish. Mind you, I’m a paper writing machine. I ended up doing it the night before because I simply wasn’t inspired. I went to bed at 6 am. I got an A, though. Thank the good Lord Jesus.
I bet you’re wondering what was the poem I wanted to write about, huh? Well, I’ll tell ya. It’s called “Tithonus”. It’s about a young man who was chosen to be the goddess Aurora’s lover. He was absolutely positively gorgeous. He asked her to live forever and so she granted his desire. Thing is, she forgot to give him eternal youth! So, day by day, the guy grew uglier and uglier and Aurora got more beautiful by the day. As he resided in the heavens with Aurora, he discovered his “life lesson”. Results are disastrous when craving to outlive humanity. Poor Tithonus was cursed to live forever…as an old, ugly, wrinkly man. It was depressing actually.
My idea for that paper was to compare and contrast “Tithonus” and the story “Tuck Everlasting”. A brief summary: that story contains a magical spring that makes you live forever, without aging. The boy who drank the water met a girl, came to love her and wanted her to drink from the spring so they could live and love forever. She didn’t.
In that paper, I wanted to discuss the matter of beauty and immortality as a social issue. I couldn’t do it then. But, I’m writing it here…now…on this blog.
I know people that would kill for Aurora to actually be real so that they could request beauty and long life. I know people that would search all over the world for that magical spring. I know that for some people, once they hit a certain age, they feel as though they have to do more to be considered beautiful. They cake on the makeup, pay off for plastic surgery…you know what I’m talking about! They get so caught up in looking young that they forget to live. They end up shallow and before they know it, they realize that their life was just a cycle of surgery and lipo suction. But, why do we eat up false advertisement and other get-pretty-quick schemes? What is it about beauty and longevity that we crave so much?
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Is it because we’re afraid of death? Of “ugliness”? Or, is it because society portrays the best looking as the most successful? We know the answer to that one. My thing is: we’re so obsessed with looking good that we forget about our insides. It’s as if we believe we are invincible…that we will live forever. Here’s a reality check people: you don’t. Just your soul does. So get right. Don’t let makeup, surgery or whatever be the thing that makes you “pretty”.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Name that quote 🙂