Monday, March 1, 2010

Are You Famous Yet?

Everybody wants to be somebody. Nobody wants to grow.

"In the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame." So said Andy Warhol: Have you had yours yet? No? Well, don't worry about it. Fame is a phantom. Fame will get you to the pitchers mound, but it won't win the game. Besides why be famous for 15 minutes? Life is bigger than that.

When I was a boy I kept hearing my mother say "You've got to learn to make something of yourself." In my childish but not stupid mind, I interpreted that to mean that according to my mother I was nothing and I didn't know how to become something. The ethic of the day was that one gained a position in life, that one took one's place in society and kept it. Any other type of life was considered a failure. Along with one's position in life came a label. What do you do? "I'm a carpenter." Not, "I make furniture out of wood." If you were a master carpenter then you were known as "a cabinet maker."

A man could have such a label and be proud of it but a label does not define a man. It's a convenient thing to put on your tax return but you know even when you do it that your life is much more than that. The danger is falling into the old habit of treating the label as your position in the world. Because then you settle for it, It's a secure mask. You don't have to look past it.

I have had positions, and some fame. Not movie star or professional ball player fame, but some degree of celebrity, particularly as a broadcaster in New York. But I knew, even when I saw my name in the paper and deposited my nice check, how gossamer the whole thing was. Not only because I could be forgotten about but even more how easy it would be to forget myself, accept the secure mask of a label and never face growing anywhere, in anyway. So I left that job, that label. People thought I was crazy to give up such a "position." It was risky, there's no denying that, to go back into a career as an actor. There was no security, the income was variable and the fame, such as it was, was intermittent. But none of those things concerned me. What did concern me was learning who I was, becoming who I was, growing into a real position of reality and fulfillment. So if someone asked me what I was I could say "I'm an actor" but the real answer to that questions was much too complicated to explain to anyone. "What do you do?" "I live."



Linda S. Socha said...

The unfolding of becoming....
The becoming to begin the unfolding.
Life....a self reinvention from beginning to end...

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Finding what fulfills you and keeps you looking forward is key. Money is fleeting, integrity is forever.

pacifica62 said...

I detest labels. I think some minds like to see neatness and order and what better way to accomplish this than by slotting people into cubicles and saying "this is who you are and this is all you are ever going to be". Why take away possibilities? We grow and change and learn new skills that defy our labels. What do I do? I do many things and consider myself and others far too elusive for a label.

krissy knox said...

Beautiful post, DB. What we make out of ourselves may be something totally unique, and not something traditionally valued, such as what "job we work" is traditionally valued. I don't need to do something to get a label to be satisfied with myself. I am content to grow,unlike what Goethe states. The idea of real growth, and what it means, has come late in life for me. I was always told, as you were, that making something out of myself was gaining a position or title in life, and that doing anything else would result in me being a failure. Now I live my life differently, and it is a glorious life indeed. Thanks for a great post, DB!

krissy knox :)
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Rose said...

I love this post!

I personally don't like labels and titles. Yes, you said it best, we live!