We’ve all had those dreams: We’re SOMEBODY BIG! We look damn good! We’re excelling in some field. We’re recognized as experts and people LOVE US! No, LOOOOOVE us! We’re celebrities and it’s fun!
Truthfully, I never envisioned that kind of life for myself. I simply could not! I was born and raised in Trinidad, where the most amount of wealth I saw was in Westmoorings. For those of you who don’t know the island, that’s commonly referred to as the “White people” area. People in general there are very light-skinned ,and can afford luxuries such as private security. They also have access to yachts and thousand-dollar beauty therapy treatments. By now you would have guessed these are tremendously atypical things for average Trinidadians.
I became aware of the Westmoorings lifestyle, when I took a body-therapy course at a local spa. (Another one of my hidden talents: I know how to give professional massages) The order and affluence that I witnessed there, had hitherto only existed in my glimpses of America. I did want to be famous, but I couldn’t envision all the pomp and splendour associated with American celebrity. I saw myself, rather, in the mould of Jackie Collins or V.S. Naipaul. (The latter was from Trinidad, so I saw that as the apex of what I could achieve at the time) As a teenager, I dreamt of being a famous author, known and recognized for my work. I lived comfortably rather than extravagantly, and I had a happy life. Do I still want those things?
Absolutely. Great wealth will not make me or anyone really happy. Michael Jackson’s millions could not convince him he was externally beautiful. His inner demons ravaged him. I’ve had similar moments when I’m crying and I realise that the size of the television screen will not comfort me. Whether it’s a 50-inch plasma TV or an antiquated 20-inch set makes no difference; I will STILL hurt.
It does piss me off, however, to see Snooki making more money than me. Seriously folks? Being stupid gets you $150,000.00 an episode? And a $25,000.00 appearance fee? And RUTGERS UNIVERSITY will pay you to speak! And then DEFEND it’s decision! Ahhhh! It’s a real travesty when according to Sting, “You can become famous by sticking your dick in Macy’s window.” We’ve gone from merit to madness!
In the good old days, celebrity was earned. You could be really fucked up, but you had to be talented. Now you can be simply fucked up and that’s considered a talent! Consider the Kardashians and the cast of Jersey Shore. The dumber you are, the more humorous you seem. Just keep in shape, wear fashionable clothing, style yourself in a conventionally attractive manner, and your simian shenanigans will seem socially acceptable.
So why do people want to be famous? Aside from the accompanying fantasies of wealth, why do we want to become famous? Here’s what Robert Fuller Ph.D. has to say.
“In a world that sees people as somebodies and nobodies, indignities abound. The primary source of man-made indignity is rankism. By analogy with racism and sexism, rankism is defined as what somebodies do to nobodies. To be sure, not all somebodies abuse their power advantage. We’ve all known somebodies who are devoted to serving others and wouldn’t think of abusing their rank…On the other hand, most of us, even quasi-somebodies, have gotten a taste of the indignities routinely visited upon those taken for nobodies…Nobodies are marginalized to the point of invisibility. Since humans are social creatures, banishment carries a threat of being deprived of social and material resources critical to health and happiness, and sometimes to survival itself…Fame promises an escape from whatever ghetto we’re in, real or imagined..The more recognition we can amass, the less likely it is that anyone will dare to nobody us.“
So we’re protecting ourselves. We’re smarter than we think we are. We subconsciously figure out how society works, even before we’re fully self-actualized. We also really need recognition.
“Recognition is to the self what food is to the body…Too little or too much can be harmful.”
It’s a spiritual need. It starts from childhood. I’ve seen my friend’s kid, Chase Dundas, respond to his father’s instructions. Since he was able to speak, his dad Roger has had him repeat “I am kind, I am smart, I am important.” Chase’s face lights up with glee, even though he really can’t pronounce the word ‘important.’ But he gets it. He giggles with understanding and shines brighter and happier, than he did before hearing it. He won’t suffer the deprivation that others unfortunately have to endure.
BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently –Maya Angelou.
Dream big. The biggest dream that you can dream. Dreams can be manifested on this physical plane. Nothing is guaranteed, but it is entirely of possibility. Apply all the knowledge and persistence that you can–something is bound to happen either way. You’ll always be on the right path once you live in accordance with your truth.
I would encourage people to take heed of the fact that we are spirits. There are needs of ours that can’t be met by the physical manifestations of the world. Loving people, earnestly and extravagantly, is what brings true satisfaction. Love is the most powerful force on the planet, and the one we need the most.
It’s okay to want to be rich and famous. The world we live in was not created overnight, and inequality has always been a feature of it. It is detestable, but such is life. If you have a lot of wealth, you have a lot of power. If you’re someone famous, you hold more sway over people’s opinions than other people do. It’s not right, and it’s not fair, but such is life. I would rather that we heap attention upon people who have something of substance to say. Something meaningful and inspirational. Recognition that is merited. Not attention bestowed upon people who behave worse than primates.
We must remember, we don’t need to be rich or famous to make a difference. Or be somebody. People can be somebodies simply by being themselves. In the process they can become famous! True power can emerge from the force of personality and beliefs. Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama are wonderful examples of this. They crafted their lives in the moment, the same way we can. They will be remembered long after the memory of Kim, Kanye and Snooki fade away from our collective consciousness.
I’d like to end with a quote that comes from the Spelling Bee of Canada founder, Julie Spence. I originally interviewed her for an article that was published on Byblacks.com. She says:
“Everyone in life has a purpose. It’s really not about you. It’s about how you can help someone, and in turn, help yourself in the process. This is what I think about every day.”
Photo credits from Flickr: THE PIX-JOCKEY for ‘MADONNA and CHILD’. 4WardEver Campaign UK for ‘Maya Angelou’.