Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Almost Famous

One of the reasons I started this blog was to get famous.

Really, it was about holding me accountable to formulating and researching ideas and opinions, but the human that I am, I think about it at times, and as a child, I can remember wanting to be famous.

I would become a professional baseball player, discover the cure for Alzheimer’s, or write a best-selling book. Fame meant fortune, and I wanted to make lots of money so I could feel safe, then I would use it for a good cause.

America’s propensity toward fame is uncanny and, at times, extremely ridiculous. Globs of people gather in attempts to feel a movie star or political figure’s hand, as if their touch would somehow rescue them from a life of vain pursuits. People glom onto tabloid magazines and reality TV shows, attempting to feel a part of something much greater than themselves. Where does this yearning for fame or the famous come from?

I often wonder if was born in the wrong time period. Frustration swells over me as the internet, text-messages, and Ipods begin to reveal their unrelenting grip. Depression rates have sky-rocketed over the past few decades, and the unrealized assailants are our inadvertent attractiveness to the quick and the easy. Delayed gratification simply doesn't exist anymore.

Think about it – 200 years ago, people weren’t bombarded with constant advertisements, distracted by cell phones ringing, or interrupting dinner with a text message under the table. To be famous was to be the mayor or president, and those are good aspirations. I think I will teleport to back then and try it for a spell.

I remember how charged up I was when Antoine Walker, a former Boston Celtic, personally autographed my jersey. His hand grazed my chest as he made me feel like a million bucks. I was beaming for weeks. When friends talk about famous people they are distantly connected to, I eagerly bring up the fact that my aunt went to the prom with George Clooney.

Who cares? What is the big deal, really? In an age where experiences with the divine have been substituted with experiences with the famous, God and religion have taken a back seat to people like Antoine Walker. Sports stadiums and movie theatres have become America’s sanctuary.

After reading Donald Miller’s(author of Blue Like Jazz) blog yesterday, I became jealous of his founding of The Mentoring Project, which is attempting to recruit ten-thousand mentors through one-thousand church-based programs to answer to the American crisis of fatherlessness. That’s something I want to be a part of, that’s something I want to start.

Everybody wants to be famous, whether they admit it or not. I have to catch myself at times, because the quest for fame in and of itself is a dark path.

As I grew older, I finally realized that I would never be a pro baseball player – I couldn’t hit the curveball. More importantly, I began to realize that I was actually almost famous at the time, I just couldn't see it.

And here is the corn-ball paragraph: Once I began to let go of the fame and fortune culture, I was able to understand that I was, and am, famous. I graduated from high-school and college and I am afforded the opportunity to have jobs that I am passionate about. And my greatest fans are my family and close friends – they are the ones that bridge the gap between almost famous and famous.

To become famous is to volunteer at a soup kitchen, mentor a young child (or if you're really old, a younger adult), go to your cousin's high school graduation, send your sister a birthday card, talk to a complete stranger, adopt a child, or do trail-work - to name a few. They are different for everybody, but they are all similar in that they are serving others.


Gruntled said...

Not famous, but virtuous, which is better.

Nate said...

It should be noted that the autographed jersey looked damn good on our wall back at the apartment.

Mark W. Mallman said...

I would say you're both virtuous and infamous.

hannah said...

It wasn't even the prom, way to stretch the truth...just a regular school dance. Although I maintain that George is, in fact, my true father (I think this explains a lot). Not that it matters. I have a lot of things I would like to say on this subject actually (not George Clooney, the whole fame thing though). Remind me next time we have a four hour car ride or something.

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