Monday, June 13, 2011

Star quality

stars fell on alabama

Zombified, Ittybit sat staring at the T.V. watching an opera singer perform.

The little girl was tiny but her voice was bigger than life.

"I want to be like that girl," she said emphatically. "I want to be famous."

It wasn't for art's sake that Ittybit wanted to make her voice lift above the songs she hears on popular radios stations. Although the beauty of the music drew her in, it was the pretty little girl in a floor-length dress that held her transfixed. "She's only a kid ... and she's on TeeeeVeeee!"

"You don't want to be that girl," I say quickly, and just as quickly want to kick myself for saying it that way. Of course she wants to be just like that little girl. She wants the mental picture we all have about fame. How special it would be.

It's easy to fault with the logic, but more difficult to dismiss the feeling behind it. Don't we all have some degree of desire for acknowledgement and adoration? Only we want the well-deserved kind of fame that wipes its feet when we invite it in, doesn't snoop in our drawers when it uses our facilities, and never wears out its welcome.

"No. I do want to be like her. I want to sing on a stage in front of lots of people. Or I want to publish a book. Or I want to act in the movies."

I try a different approach.

"Well, I wouldn't want to be that girl. I was listening to an interview with her and she seemed extremely anxious for a little girl. She was worried about what would happen as an adult. Would she be able to keep the momentum? Would her voice change? Would it be as pretty when it did? I just think that's a lot of worry for a little girl to handle."

She shrugs her shoulders. She doesn't share my concern. The gun has fired and the stopwatch has started. The time to make your mark, she thinks, is now.

"She's already 11. Maybe that would be a problem if she were not yet 10," she says as if she's already decided it's all over once you reach the double digits.

I just smile and let her dream alone.

What does her old mother know about fame and what it's like, anyway?

We all have our dreams and anxieties no matter where we go or what we do. We all swim against tides. We walk down roads others travel and they're always new to us. The only thing I can really advise her to do is to follow what makes her happy until it makes her miserable. Then maybe she'll be ready to forge her own path.

We can only predict, we can't know for sure. Don't help. Don't hinder.

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