You’re a Star, Whose Paradise Awaits

Ever go to hear a speaker who’s sold as the second coming of Gandhi, only to find Chris Farley instead? (RIP spirit of Chris!  No offense.  You were genius, Nick Foley and all)!

I say this as a reminder to all of us to expect more out of life. The temptress of celebrity worship is a fetching little dame.  So much so, she won Snooki a major book deal. Yes, a book, with more than 15 pages.  And no pictures.  I’m sure it’s an okay little tale.  But what about yours?

I see scads of people ignorning their own story, instead worshiping the very idea of just having a picture made with some shiny-eyed TV glitter or a big-Chicklet movie star they don’t know at all. There’s nothing wrong with the picture, as long as we demand something worthy of genuine respect out of everyone in the frame.  Celebrity ought to be earned, not just photographed.

Celebrities are cool, often. But let’s require more them, and ourselves, than a grin bigger than the grill of a ’59 Buick. Let’s ask them, and us, to contribute spiritual value, courage, genuine compassion, beautifully disruptive new ideas and challenges that jar us awake. Let’s require a certain grace of us all.  Let’s make a celebrity of that.

I see too many people sleep walking through life. I find myself doing it at times, and it ranks among my greatest self-disappointments. To waken to the doing of great things, telling fear to drop dead, is to live. It is our calling.

When Faulkner picked up the Nobel Prize, he said a thing that haunts around my heart nearly every day. It wakens in me the urge, the longing, to do, to matter, not merely stand and watch. Faulkner said that humankind will not merely survive. Humankind will prevail.

I agree. And we prevail only by action. By motion.

So, run, forward, off toward your own legacy.  Flee every testy little temptation just to stand and adore stardom for stardom’s sake.  Live so well, so magnanimously, no idle stardom can light on the hem of your mind, there to tempt you just to be rather than be extraordinary.  

Expect more than stardom.  

Many have tangled in the sparkling barbed wire of celebrity.  Facebook has made a business model of the pictures.  But too few become worthy of getting celebrated.  I mean in a way that matters, from the tops of the ivory towers way down into the gullies of the desperate and forgotten. As I said to an audience a few short weeks ago, your ordinary is someone’s extraordinary. Someone waits to see the natural you become a supernatural force in a life other than your own.  Such stardom is there, within each of us, waiting for us to set it loose to run. 

And ever notice that the celebrities who get this, the ones who practice it, are the celebs who last?  They’re the stars who don’t flame out in the waning contrails of flash bulbs.  They tend to be the ones without a mug shot.  But even those who let us down harbor a greatness beyond their own fame.  A greatness in waiting.  And thank God for the firmament that harbors the likes of Tom Hanks and Oprah — imperfect as the rest of us, and determined to matter! 

Each of us has a choice — even when we open our mouths to choose a few simple words — about who we will become.  We get to decide how well we will prevail.  Want to be a star?  Shine some meaningful, kind, generous thing upon the world, especially the cold corners of it, where people seldom find celebrities or much to celebrate.  

A picture with a star is bound to fade.  But daring to waken and live beyond the flash bulbs.  Daring to live with meaning.  That’s how we fall softly into paradise. That’s how we harbor a good and lasting light. 

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4 Responses to “You’re a Star, Whose Paradise Awaits”

  1. Barbara Gantt Says:

    Beautifully said, as usual. I couldn’t help but think of the American Idol winner, South Carolina’s own Candice Glover. She had given her all twice before and yet returned for a third try. And she is now sitting with a world of possibilities there for the taking. She kept aiming at that star and last night she made it her own!
    Thank you, Michael,for your insight into the human spirit. Your writing provokes the mind to ponder and dig a bit deeper!!

  2. […] You’re a Star, Whose Paradise Awaits […]

  3. Thank you for a wonderful essay. It reads like a keynote address at a graduation.
    I also love that Faulkner quote, and I’ve heard the recording of that speech. It will give you chills!
    My favorite celeb with class is Christy Turlington. She’s done (and is still doing) important work with her charity ‘Every Mother Counts’ as well as others, and she is beautiful inside and out.

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