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  • Writer's pictureJenny Wynter

If Success Falls in a Forest…

John Keats as portrayed in "Bright Star"

I finally got around to watching “Bright Star” this week and it got me thinking – I mean, aside from the tragedy of a great love cut short – about the nature of success.

What really hit me – especially after getting my John Keats-google on (and if you’ve perchance stumbled on here by googling that phrase then hello and I can’t quite decide if I love you or loathe you) – was the revelation that John Keats met his death believing himself a failure.

Not one of the most revered romantic poets in the entire history of mankind, but a FAILURE.

My hubby and I were afterwards discussing the notion of posthumous success, with me saying that it seems so bizarre that somebody so revered would never even be aware of the impact their life actually had on the world.

I rattled off some other names, Jeff Buckley and Eva Cassidy among them. “Yes,” said my hubby, “but even with those two, they at least experienced some success in their careers before they died. John Keats didn’t just find his success cut short, he actually thought he was completely unsuccessful.”

Is our success – overlooking for a moment what you even define that to be – only valid IF we are there to experience it? Or is it still “our” success if we don’t even know that it exists?

I’m so interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

One thing I know for sure though – if I find myself on my own death bed before I have achieved whatever it is I’ve set out for myself, I’m going to take great comfort in convincing myself that my Oscar will come posthumously.

Even if I have never acted in a film.

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