I think about this a bit. Being from Los Angeles, I was frequently surrounded by a lot of people who felt like knowing someone made you someone. But really, I'm of the mindset that knowing someone just makes you someone who knows someone. And you can tell yourself that because you once had a martini two feet away from a household name that you're all up in that bitch, but really, if you talk about it and have to name drop, you're still just a crusty barnacle.
Now certainly, there are a lot of gifted people in L.A., but what makes someone "someone"? Every famous person you know is only famous because other people in powerful positions shouted "This person has a gift!" from the studio rooftops. That's what being "discovered" means, right? Carrie Underwood would still be milking cows in Oklahoma if Simon Cowell had never said on TV that she was going to be somebody. And Simon Cowell would probably be living the life of Hugh Grant's character in Notting Hill (minus the getting married to Julia Roberts part) if he hadn't been discovered, and so on, and so on, and so on.
There are, of course, gifted people everywhere who aren't making $10 million every three months. You just don't see their airbrushed faces on the sides of a bus, or along the walls at the train station, or on the movie screens. So my question is this: Are they any less gifted because their adoring audience is smaller? Would Brad Pitt still be all sexy smoke if he was running the best drama program his local high school had ever seen? (Maybe that's not the best example. Because obviously, yes. He can sex it up no matter where he is. But you know what I mean.)
Do gifts need louder applause and more visibility to be bigger? Do higher ticket sales make Adele a better singer? I think she's going to rock the house whether she's at Staples Center or in the shower. But what if nobody believed in her? Would she still have the voice of Ella Fitzgerald + a Brit angel? She would.
So is it our gifts that lift us up, or are the people who appreciate the gifts doing the heavy lifting? Is talent a gift only if lots and lots of people say it is? I think some of us can identify our gifts, and some of us need someone else to identify them for us. That's one thing. As parents, it's up to us to help our kids see themselves and to believe in their strengths. But whether we are singing at a church in town or on the world's biggest stage, I guess what's important is that we feel buoyed by our gift and that we share it.
I'm no Simon Cowell, but here are some recent examples of extraordinary shared gifts I'd like to shout from a rooftop blog:
A friend who always says to me when I beg her for a favor and then thank her profusely for saying yes, "I'm just happy you asked me.".
A handful of friends who generously donate their time and tireless energy to teach my daughter and the rest of the Brownie troop she is a part of how to be kind, respectful, open-minded young people. They do this by patiently holding a mirror up to each of these girls - in the form of lessons and discussions and outings and crafts - and then standing steady until they watch each one recognize the unique gift they see in their own reflection.
The skinny friend who not only told me how much weight she's gained in the last year, but who then lifted her shirt to show me.
The physical therapists, nurses and doctors who have worked to put my Mom back together again, and who have managed, day by day, and week by week, to give back to us a woman who is somehow stronger now than she was before she landed in their care. Not to mention the friends who have kept my folks company and their refrigerator full over the past several weeks.
Some friends who read my blog entry about a very dry Monday night indeed, who then responded with offers to bring vino, pronto. And the one friend who wrote a note, tied it to a pretty bag holding a bottle of wine, and drove it over today to leave it on the front step. My porch has never looked better.
The glimpses of kindness I've seen in my daughters towards each other, towards me, and towards others.
The friends and family - old and new, near and far - who have taken time out of their days and nights to email/text/comment on this little blog. The writing feels good to me but the connections it's made to a bunch of pretty wonderful people is the real gift to me.
So thank you. Looks like the only curse I have to worry about is the one that comes each month and then leaves my bathroom looking like a crime scene. And stop with the Oh. My. God. You knew I'd go there, it was only a matter of time.
Stay tuned. :)