In this era of reality TV and social networking, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the desire for “fame” is within all of us, even if it’s there in a very small dose. We want to do something that will attract the attention of others. I think it explains why we are inclined to put up those cryptic attention-getting status updates so that people will bang down our inboxes with questions and concerns. Regardless of what our jobs are, we imagine reaching the peak of that experience.
I said in another post that I am low-maintenance. I enjoy the simplicity of my life and at times am even proud of it. But I’ve also always craved the limelight a bit. When I was a teacher I did fantasize about being “teacher of the year” (or even being nominated) and the second that I started writing again I dreamed of being the next big author.
Then there’s the fortune part of this post. I think it’s also in all of us to desire riches. When I was young I had plenty, but there was always someone who had a little more. Every time my mother bought me a new Barbie, the next-door neighbor’s mom would buy her two. I had the Barbie Jeep and she had the Barbie RV. She had the Barbie dream house 2 years before I had mine. In high school, I drove a 1979 Honda Accord that we (my friends and I) named “The Little Brown Turd” and two of my closest friends drove much newer and better cars. They also lived in bigger houses. I had it good, but sometimes I thought if I had a better car or a bigger house and more money to spend my life would be better.
Here I am as an adult and for the most part I have all the stuff I want. Mark and I have come a long way through the years. We started our life together with nothing but a few pieces of furniture we brought from our parent’s homes. Each year we’ve grown a little bit richer and yet there is still the desire that if we just had a bit more we could be happier. I still browse through Realtor.com from time to time checking out the bigger houses and occasionally wish I could replace my entire wardrobe with clothes from nicer stores than Old Navy and Target (no offense as I love these stores).
Recently I had the opportunity to get the feel of both fame and fortune. I sat next to a woman at the television studio before Lissa’s interview. I didn’t even realize she was famous. She walked in fidgeting with her phone. Apparently, it wasn’t working. Being connected was an absolute necessity in her world. She had a day filled with appointments including a telephone interview with NPR that same afternoon. I was beside her as she made the call to her cell carrier and for the first time truly understood what it meant to feel someone else’s energy. Her world was crashing down upon her because she didn’t have a cell phone. It might sound like I’m picking on her a bit, but I really am not. This was her world…one of fame. In order to stay in the position she is in, she must keep all these balls in the air and that includes the ability to make and answer the calls that are constantly coming in. I’ve dreamed of her life without even grasping just what it means and what has to be sacrificed to live it.
I also met someone who was ultra-wealthy. This person had everything money could buy, yet longed for deep friendships and connections with like-minded people. I looked around their amazing home and knew in that moment the grass isn’t always greener and money will not buy happiness.
I’ve alluded to this topic in my last two posts. I wrote about realizing my big dream wasn’t really right for me and about how we miss opportunities to do things that are great for ourselves and the people in our small circle by trying to fit labels. This is just an extension of that. I think ultimately the motivation behind the choices we make has to be pure and beneficial. If we are doing things just to get rich or famous, we will probably find ourselves less than full-filled. My advice to myself (and you if you dare to take it) is to seek to give, help, connect, and heal and perhaps by following that path the stars in my eyes will be transformed.
After my trip I have been thinking a lot about “callings” and purpose. I still believe that our highest purpose is to connect with God. Beyond that though, we have contributions that only we can make. I wonder how often we miss these opportunities because we are trying to label ourselves or fit into a box.
The last few days I’ve been thinking of my passions, or the things that light me up when I think about them. I get really excited about the lessons I plan for the kids at church. I’m not incredibly organized and struggle a bit with putting them together in a lesson format, but the ideas bring me to life. In December, we’re going to discuss the metaphysical symbolism in the Christmas story. In January we’ll be doing the metaphysics in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. After that I’m going to create my own unit on the red letters (the words in the bible supposedly spoken by Jesus).
But here’s where the label comes in. Because I find myself drawn to the teaching idea again I am trying to make a predictable path for myself. I’m scared to let God lead me so my ego is butting in. Yesterday I came up with a plan. I’d go back to school, get that History degree I’m only 3 classes shy of, and teach middle school Social Studies. Luckily I know how to listen to my body these days and couldn’t ignore the sick feeling in my tummy when I visualized that plan.
I wonder how many people ignore their guts, go against their dreams, and choose the “sure thing” path? I wonder how often opportunities for finding your purpose and embracing your calling are missed because money, stability, power, or reputation seem better?
I think I said in an earlier post that last week I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. The book was an easy and wonderful read. Every chapter either moved me to tears or made me laugh.
A major theme in the book was the importance of childhood dreams. Randy presented his childhood dreams and then went on to show how all of them (with the exception of one) came true. Even the absurd dream of wanting to be Captain Kirk came true in a round about way. It got me thinking about my childhood dreams.
Being a wife and mother were definitely on the list. I’ve accomplished those. For a time when I was a kid, we had a ping pong table. We found that when the table was pushed up and stored it could be used as a chalkboard. We spent time playing school. Perhaps it was then when I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I did become one. Although I feel I am done with my time in the traditional classroom, I do not feel I am finished teaching. I know that I dreamed of being a published author, although I think I also dismissed that dream as being “impossible.” I also went through a phase where I desperately wanted to be a model. I’m not exactly sure why seeing as I wasn’t tall or thin enough…or even pretty enough for that matter. But I wanted it enough to give up a vacation to Hawaii so I could attend John Casablanca’s modeling school. I guess I just craved the spotlight somehow and that was the only way I could imagine being in a spotlight.
Except for the fashion model fantasy, I don’t think I really dreamed BIG. I loved my life just the way it was and never really longed for much more. When I think of the activities that were my absolute favorite…those that defined my childhood it would be three things. I loved being a cheerleader and showing off my cheers to anyone who would watch. I loved playing Barbies and could spend hours on end in this fictional world of my imagination with Barbie and her friends. I loved drawing and coloring. The funny thing is except for cheerleading (which I participated in from 2nd grade through 12th), I’m not sure how often I did those other things. Maybe it was only a year that I was taken with Barbie and maybe my drawing obsession only lasted a few months. Maybe there were other things I did better and for longer, but those are the things I remember. When I visualize my childhood I see the Barbie Dream House, the spiral notebook in which I drew portraits of Strawberry Shortcake and all her friends, and my Godmother’s laughing face as I “perform” for her.
Randy’s book definitely has me reflecting once again on my childhood dreams, talents, and hobbies. I do believe that what we are drawn to as children gives us clues about our future careers and lives. The dreams of our children should not be dismissed.