Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fame or Enlightenment?

It’s Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer is coming out in September. I find the whole thing all very exciting. No, this is not my first book, but it is my first hardback which makes me feel all writerly and proper.

“You’re going to be famous!” This has been said to me several times in the past two weeks. Even my own dad said, “Honey, I hope they sell lots of copies of your book and that you’ll get famous.”

I said, “Dad, that’s not my goal. I just want to make a difference—help someone on their journey.”

At first I wondered if people thought that was one of my values, as if the goal in my life is to be famous. Then I was in a meeting last week and we were saying good-bye to a guy who is going off to get his MFA in directing.

“You’re going to be famous!” someone sang out.

He laughed, embarrassed and said the exact same thing I said, “That’s not my goal.”

It occurs to me that this is simply a value of our culture where everyone is trying to get on TV, have their Warholian fifteen minutes of fame, or even just be famous for being famous. (I refuse to write her name.)

Recently I was reading some Sufi stories and some Zen stories and they often start out: “There was a man who was seeking enlightenment.” (Okay, so they weren’t gender inclusive.)

Seeking enlightenment! Imagine that! No one has said to me, “Oh, you’re going to be enlightened!”

Cancer doesn’t care about your degree of celebrity or enlightenment. It’s an equal opportunity disease. Perhaps fame may get you better medical care, although it shouldn’t. But fame won’t affect your response to chemo or surgery or radiation. But perhaps enlightenment does. So I’ll continue to seek it.


stlueymo said...

Just read your "sermon" I'd Rather Be Here Now, reflections on 9/11, (and as always,much more). Thanks for your uplifting take on life. You always get me giggling, yet contemplating the more philosophical side of life. In particular you mix up a good dose of spirituality that includes everything from Buddha to baseball, Jesus to mile roos ! (for those of you reading, you gotta get to the serman for the mile roos!) So keep it up, with our without infamy, we love hearing/reading/knowing you!

kbyrd said...

I think it's a sort of spiral - cancer provides enlightenment - enlightenment helps with your treatment - you communicate (and boy, do YOU communicate) and enlighten others! Keep up the good work.