Just to make sure that everybody who is reading this post understands the title, the second word — “Shmame” — is not a misspelling. There’s a tradition, in American Jewish culture, to take a word (like “Fame”) and then reduce the power of the concept — in a humorous or ironic fashion — by putting a “shm” sound in the front of the word.
There’s a dismissive quality in the”shm,” for sure, which is highlighted in my two impeccable sources (found a few minutes ago, through Google, of course):
I especially like how — in that second link — somebody was searching for a definition for the word “shmoetry.”
By the way, I don’t know whether regular readers have noticed this, but I like letting other people — on the internet, or anywhere — do my work for me, especially when it comes to giving details or establishing credibility for any concept I feel like writing about. That’s because I can get a little impatient with details.
In other words, details, shmetails.
Anyway, let’s get back to today’s concept which was ….
Actually, let me take a step back and define fame this way: as a function of attention.
Fame is attention, to the nth power. Attention, on steroids.
And what is attention?
Attention is being seen, heard, recognized, and understood, for who we are. We yearn for attention and often need it, to survive.
Who among us do not want to be seen, heard, recognized, and valued? And the more we experience each other authentically (letting go of all those things that get in the way of understanding and being understood), the more connected — and the less isolated — we can be.
Many years ago, when I attended an Opening the Heart Workshop at Spring Hill, we worked on writing a personal, customized affirmation.
This is what I came up with:
I deserve to be seen, heard, and loved, exactly the way I am.
Now, as I’m including that affirmation in this post, I wonder about your reactions to it. Affirmations can seem hokey and clichéd, I know. However, that affirmation was really important to me, because — when I wrote it — I didn’t BELIEVE that statement. Like so many other people I’ve witnessed, I’ve often added too many qualifiers. Instead of that simple affirmation, this is what I can believe, instead:
I deserve to be seen, heard, and loved ONLY IF (I do enough, don’t make mistakes, make a difference, have enough friends, look good enough, etc.)
When I wrote that affirmation at the workshop, so many years ago, it seemed so radical and weird. I’ve worked on believing it, ever since. And, I’m happy to report that I do believe that affirmation more and more, as each year goes by. (That’s one big reason I’m such a fan of aging.) (So far, anyway.)
So much for affirmations. Why did I start with FAME, on this beautiful morning?
Well, we live in a culture where fame is valued. And valuing fame makes sense, doesn’t it? Fame is like hitting the Seen Heard & Loved JACKPOT.
Also, I grew up in a family where certain celebrities were admired (including singers and comedians). My father, who was a terrific singer and perhaps the funniest person I’ve ever met, might have felt a little frustrated in his chosen profession (as a pharmacist). He was a born performer, and he was wonderful at it. While he had an outlet at social gatherings, at the synagogue, and basically everywhere he was, I got the sense he was somewhat dissatisfied, that he wished he had a wider audience.
But maybe not. I wish I could ask him, right now.
But I can’t.
So I guess I’m trying to figure out the meaning of fame — for myself and perhaps in memory of my father, too.
These days (and I know I’ve written about this before, in this blog), I feel like that any yearning for fame can trip me up. Using a Fame Measure can cause me to judge and doubt the validity of what I’m doing. For example: How many people will discover my blog? How many people will discover the group work I’m doing? How many people will know that I’ve lived with a cardiac pacemaker longer than anybody else in the world*?
But then I think:
And I ask myself these questions:
Do you love your work?
Are you getting a lot out of writing this blog?
No matter what your history is with pacemakers, is a pacemaker helping you live a full and healthy life, right now?
Here are my concluding thoughts:
Past, schmast. Future, shmuture.
In the moment, it’s all good.
Thanks for reading, shmeading, or whatever else you did here, today.
* In 2014, I found out this claim was NOT true. See here for more about that.)