Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscar Glitz and Glamor

"Simple Beauty"
 - springtime in the desert -

Today is the day when much of the country (and the world) turn their gaze on Hollywood actors, celebrities and the Oscars. The television coverage begins hours before the start of the ceremony so that the viewing public won’t miss even a minute of all the “glitz and glamor” as the stars arrive in their limos, impeccably coifed, all decked out in designer dresses and wearing expensive jewelry. These are the “beautiful people” who have seemingly made it to the top- they have “arrived” in life.

Many social commentators have suggested that many “ordinary” folks are so enamored by celebrities because they live their rather dull lives vicariously through them: “even though my own life may not amount to much, I can at least dream about being important by watching famous people.”

Interestingly enough, in my life I have learned that all that outward glitz and glamor associated with “big time” actors and Hollywood celebrities is actually quite artificial. When we lived in Los Angeles, our neighborhood was so close to Hollywood that, at the end our street, I could look up into the hills and see the massive “Hollywood sign” towering over the city. Many “famous” Hollywood actors, directors and screen writers attended the church I served and the local restaurants and coffee shops in my neighborhood were favorite haunts of many “big name” celebrities.   

The thing is that for the most part, every single one of the “famous” people I knew or met were very ordinary, average people-  just like the rest of us. For the most part they didn’t want any special attention and they just “blended in” with everyone else. I also discovered that making movies is very demanding- it takes hard work and long hours and all those “famous” actors had to work really hard just like everyone else.

There are no “more important” others. We all walk hand in hand through the beautiful wilderness of this life – each with our own struggles, each with our own joys, each with equal dignity.

On a day when so many people are “star struck” by all the Oscar glitz and glamor, I think about something the monk and author, Thomas Merton, once said

Finally I am coming to the conclusion
that my highest ambition in life
is to be what I already am.

Many people live their lives as if they are actors on a stage hoping or pretending to be someone they are not, competing for the honors and awards and recognition, always seeking out the applause of the crowds. This is a sure path to unhappiness.

The Jesuit priest and author, Anthony De Mello, once observed:

After I turned 20 I worried endlessly about the impression I made
And how other people were evaluating me.
Only sometime after turning 50 did I realize that
other people hardly even thought of me at all.
So often people presume themselves to be the center of everyone else’s attention
performing to an audience that isn’t even there.

“Oscar Sunday” is a good day to give up seeking the applause and to realize that none of us is ever on the center stage in life. When we realize this, we are on a path of wisdom.

On this day when many people are struck with “Oscar fever,” I am paying special attention to the simple advice of the ancient Taoist, Lao Tzu:

Manifest plainness
Embrace simplicity
Reduce selfishness
Have few desires

1 comment:

  1. Thank I am wondering what to do with my life...and I have already arrived. xx