Monday, September 12, 2011

That Funny Thing Called Fame

I unexpectedly found myself attending a concert last week given by a talented performer. Her prowess was exquisite, her repertoire ranging from musical theater to jazz to folk and back again to rock, and I thoroughly enjoyed every number. After the concert, a line quickly formed to meet and have autographs of this famous, talented singer. I debated whether I should take the time. While I was truly captivated by her performance, I did have a tired husband at home, and sleeping babies I felt the call of duty to be near. But this was my one chance to meet this star. Maybe I might even be able to say something to impress her. My husband is, after all, a pseudo-star himself. I happened to be wearing my Chinese blouse, which is not a particularly common wardrobe piece. What if she complimented it? That would give me the chance to say, "Why, thank you! I actually got this while I was in China with my husband. He was there performing with the National Tour of Les Miserabl├ęs." It would be a perfect segue into the fact that I am special too, at least by association.

Yes, I am embarrassed to admit, that was my train of thought. I can't believe I'm confessing this, but now you know the petty workings of my feeble mind. Gordon B. Hinckley once said "Adulation is poison." I guess it just goes to show how potent a poison it can be when even the wife of one frequently inundated with praise for his incredible talent is in serious need of a de-tox. Thankfully, I was spared the chance to make a fool of myself that evening. As I neared the end of that hour-long line, I was informed that the artist was only signing purchased merchandise, not the concert programs. Baffled and without my carefully planned conversation to lean on, I stepped out of line and stood there flabbergasted while the last die-hard fans slipped their new CD's and 8x10 glossies under her flourishing Sharpie. Then the security men shooed us off, announcing that the star had had a very long and exhausting day.

In my humiliation, I had some time to reflect on just what it was that had driven me to act like a little groupie. It made me wonder about this funny thing we call fame, and why it is so addictive and attractive. There is something about being known. We want to be known. We love people who are known. We are even more eager to be known by people who are known. That artist had seen hundreds of fans that day, thousands in her lifetime, perhaps millions, many adoring, many showering praise, many seeking their 15 seconds of fame with a famous person. She would not remember my carefully planned, brilliant conversation starter from the next person to shove a CD under her nose. So why was I so anxious for her to know something about me? Why did I want her to think I was special? Why would I seek validation from a celebrity?

I thought of my babies sleeping at home, of my sweet husband who should have had the ticket to that concert but who graciously let me go instead. They knew me. They loved me. I am special to them, and always will be. What more did I need? And then I thought of God, the creator of the universe and my very own Father. He knows me. No celebrity on earth comes close to his importance, prominence, accomplishment, or even his "fame." And he knows me and cares about me every moment of my life. I have far more than 15 seconds of his attention. I have a lifetime of his attention. There is no facade he wears for me, and I can't possibly wear one for him. I don't have to impress him. He loves me, regardless.

In the end, it occurred to me that I should have been more interested in thanking that good woman for taking the time to share so much with us. I had no need to be flowery or impressive. A simple thank you would have expressed everything I needed to say. And my thank you did not have to stand out above the millions of others she has heard. This moment should not have been about me and making an impression. It should have been a chance to express gratitude. Regret? Yes, I have it. But I also take away a lesson which I hope I will be able to apply the next time I am tempted to be star-struck.