Exceptional People

An essay-poem |

Or, People Disappoint You, an essay-poem

As with most things I write about, this has been rolling about in my head for many years. It is the sort of thing I keep hitting up against and wondering at, and eventually crystallize some notion of that calls for itself to be solidified in text. In starting to solidify this into text, I realized that it will be short, and comes from a place particularly likely to call upon the typical impactful literary techniques I use whose names I do not remember. So, I figured, if I am to write a short essay with impassioned sections, why not go all the way and give it the form of a poem. I may not be a poet, but by posting these digital pages of text I do inevitably claim the identity of a writer, of some sort. So, here's an essay poem. PS shout out, similar thoughts were echoed well in 'The “You’re Not as Cool in Person” Phenomenon'.

I have seen the shine of exceptional people,
their radiance of confidence, skill, power,
their lit up eyes in the midst of inspiration,
their bright excitement in the flow of creation.

When? When I have sat with them in cruel extra credit classes,
and worked with them during brutal nocturnal work slogs,
and argued with them over specifics in hastily scrawled sketches,
and drank with them past sundown unfazed by the impending morning.

Then, I have sensed in them burning hearts,
or perhaps perpetually caffeinated brains,
and in those brains always a thought, a plan, an idea,
and in those hearts always the energy to think, imagine, strive.

And in me? Often, mired in melancholy, I felt jealousy -
felt just short of that ascendancy beyond normalcy,
different but not outstanding, smart but not exceptional,
the angst of a restless below average overachiever.

But! Don’t worry. I grew up, slain that silly impulse,
long since realized the emptiness of numbers,
pierced the perceived glow of outstanding people,
and through it saw, simply, friends, peers, people.

Just people. Impressive people.
People who have bad days and tough times.
People who have dark sides and hidden fears.
People who make mistakes.
People who make bad jokes.
People who struggle.

And at first it was distinctly disappointing to see the death of that ideal,
the impossibility of escaping difficulty dealing with all of life’s damned dimensions.
Such a typically tepid truth - us mere mortals incapable of that heroic Herculean halo,
and left to grow to see humans do not live in fairly tales, as I did with those around me.

But you know, funny thing - in time I liked them all the more for it.