Collected Wisps of Thought

{January 3, 2007}   Random Blog

This is a totally random blog, but I find myself thinking about celebrity quite often these days. Not celebrities, as in individual famous people, but celebrity, as in the state of being famous. More specifically, I find myself feeling sorry for famous people.

Now, a very wise question might be: Why feel sorry for people who have immense wealth, are generally beautiful (or at least have the money to become outwardly so) and are adored by millions of fans? Don’t most of us, despite how vehemently we might deny it, harbor hidden fantasies of becoming famous?

I’ll admit, there have been times in my life when a certain degree of fame has been tempting. For example, I would love the degree of fame where everyone knew my name and the name of my books so that they could say to each other in passing, “Did you read that new bestseller by KL Going? I heard it made the NY Times list before it was even released!”

But I would NOT like the degree of fame where people would recognize me on the streets and take my photo when I’m having a bad hair day and wearing my old sweats. I wouldn’t like the degree of fame where people make montages of me and other celebrities talking with our mouths full or tripping or scratching our noses so that it appeared as if… well, you know.

This is part of the reason I feel sorry for celebrities, but it’s not the whole thing. I keep trying to put my finger on the feeling of melancholy I get when watching E! What makes me want to defend Tom Cruise and Britney Spears when I’m not even fans of their work? Why cringe instead of rejoice at so-and-so’s next big flop?

Aside from the issue of general human kindness, I think I genuinely worry about famous people. It’s enormously difficult for any of us to make it through life with our priorities intact. Our culture is a great big vat of sticky gum that we wade through on a daily basis. You lean into it, shoulders down, head back, knees propelling you forward, reminding yourself as you go: life is not all about me, there is goodness in the world, how I act is important, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, money doesn’t define success…

The list goes on, but I imagine the gum surrounding celebrities to be that much thicker.

On any given day, I encounter a hundred examples of other people living out each of the statements I murmur to myself as I push through the morass. I only have to look around to see that life does not revolve around me or to be reminded about what it means to live well. Just today I went to the gym and the woman who owns it knows everyone by name. She had a personal kind word for every single person there. Think how many people she effects every day. What a wonderful vocation! She isn’t as rich as Donald Trump or as beautiful as 99% of the women on television, but I have to believe she’s chosen a wonderful path through life. The world is better because she is here.

Entertaining can be a wonderful path as well, but it’s all about how you live it out. I imagine the average celebrity has many more obstacles on their road and far fewer role models. I guess, in the end this is why I feel sorry for them — because I know how hard I find it to get by in my daily average life and I can’t imagine how I’d measure up if things were any more difficult than they already are.

People choose to persue fame for any number of reasons (sometimes it is thrust upon them) but I wonder if it brings them what they expect. I wonder if all the time and effort and money spent is worth it when all is said and done. How many celebrities are truly happy with their lives and how many are always in search of that brass ring which remains forever out of reach?

How many of us would maintain our values if roles were reversed?

God willing, we might never have to find out. Right?

Well… okay, maybe we could all be tested just a teeny tiny bit. ;-}

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