When I was five, and this story is recorded on video, my uncle asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up.
Although ballerinas or astronauts are the usual answers, depending on the gender, I stated: a masterpiece.
I have spent the last 25 years, since that day of declaration, doing just that.
People think fame is synonymous with publicity or international recognition. Fame means someone read your book besides your mother; someone watched your movie besides the critics; someone wanted your signature, besides the clerk at the bank.
Some of us, not all of us, but many of us have yearned to be a star. Whether it reveals itself in just wanting general attention, or breaking out dancing at the beach, or singing “Hello Dolly” on Broadway (as on the street, not the stage).
I for one, to be very honest, love drama. I have spent many a night trying to figure out if my life is dramatic and I choose to love it, or I love drama and therefor my life becomes just that. However, I have spent many days thinking my life is a movie and I am the star, to the point I hear the background music in the scene. However, when that has happened, I usually take my headphones out of my ears to bring myself back to reality.
One day it occurred to me, I’m not going to be the lead character in any musical (even if I know each classic by heart!). I am not going to Hollywood. I am not becoming a dancer, singer or actress. I am not going to even be a comedian. Clearly I am not running for politics, and I’m not much of a TV host or even a radio broadcaster. I certainly don’t want to be infamous, so I’ll do my best to stay away from crime, and I have no interest in marrying someone famous. So how do I quench this need to be a somebody and called to fame?
This took me years, (I’m old enough to say that now), but I honestly believe that the best audience around is my children; my family. In my home. At the table. In the car. Bath time. Bedtime. At breakfast or on vacation.
I have learned to be thoroughly, uncompromisingly, essence- based, legitimately, wholesomely famous, within my own world.
My kids give me standing ovations, and I tell them I’ll be here all night (and then some). My kids giggle and ask for an encore by saying: do it again mommy! The audience is always available, the crowds needs are expected and therefore easy to satisfy, an occasional lights off and flashlights on makes it more creative and voila! I have created my own stage!
It could be called reality TV, but it’s my reality channel and there is so much beauty enveloped inside the lights, camera and action of it all.
The truth is, this is a deep novel idea. We are constantly trying to take our talents outward because without the world seeing it or recognizing it, it is almost like it doesn’t exist. If it’s “just” within my own walls with my kids, and no one knows about it, it is not “real”.
I remember the day I promised myself I would not cook dinner for new mother’s in the neighborhood unless I had cooking dinner down pat for my own family. We learn from many Jewish traditions and teachings, it all starts at home. People look with jealous eyes at the woman who is running the chesed organization… But how’s her relationship with her husband? We are amazed at how accomplished that man is, how many books he wrote, lectures he’s given, but how’s his relationship with his kids?
Fame can be fame without outside glimmer. Inside fame is just as good and surprisingly even better. If I bring up my two boys to remember the ridiculous, funny, embarrassing acts I did for them, then I’m written down on their wall of fame. If I create memories of laughing, or my boys thinking, “our mom is nuts!”, then mission accomplished. If I can feel fulfilled by playing the character of mom, which in reality means cook, cleaner, librarian, teacher, coach, launderer, team leader, nurse, garbage collector and personal shopper, then I don’t need an academy award… because I feel rewarded with satisfaction from within.
My kids might grow up thinking some actor is cool, right now they think Fireman Sam is the coolest, but famous people come and go, live and overdose, become a top hit then hit rock bottom… But a parent, who puts on a really good performance with theatrics, costume design and props is a true actress.
I no longer need to look for situations where my drama can overflow, the opportunities are right there in front of me. I don’t look outward for satisfaction, I look inward. I don’t need to impress or call for attention from the outside world, I put my energies into my family. I don’t feel a need to present myself as an actress, but I make sure that my acting comes out with my kids so they can enjoy their mom acting funny!
Drama is in life’s DNA anyways, so we mind as well enjoy the stage.