Fame

Download PDF

Pops & Son '96

I’d like to introduce a new feature in this space: ‘transmissions’.

These posts will each contain one or two sentences that a wise friend once personally told me. Over time these words have served as guiding principles for how I live my life, and in that way I reflect on them as wisdom which has been transmitted to me.

It is in this spirit that I’d like to transmit them to you, here, as perhaps someday they will be useful to you in your journey. To begin, some wisdom from my father:

“Early on in life I knew that I would only be famous among the people I cared about…and that was okay with me.”

A couple years ago I was in the midst of a career change, and found myself talking with my dad about fame. Recognition from others has always been important to me, and for most of my life I viewed ‘being famous’ as something to work towards.

My father shared that in his early twenties he chose to raise a family instead of going to a prestigious out-of-state college, and knew from then on he wouldn’t achieve fame in the conventional sense.

This prompted me to ask myself why I desired fame among people that I didn’t know? I reasoned that it might help provide some external assurance that what I was doing was worthwhile. But this was a flimsy excuse: fame is hardly correlated with ‘worthiness’, and besides, I had all the assurance I needed within my own experience. I was stumped. I kind of still am.

Re-defining fame this way allows me to recognize I’m actually already famous. What else is there to seek? Thanks pops; you’ll always be famous to me too.

Other posts you may be interested in...

  • Deepening my (piano) practiceDeepening my (piano) practice When I was a youngster my parents signed me up for piano lessons, and then a few years later it was boring and I wanted to quit. My parents were clever, they told me: "If you can find one adult who stopped playing the piano when […]
  • Bearing Witness – Street RetreatBearing Witness – Street Retreat Last summer a friend asked me for help. Will was raising money for a unique experience called a “Street Retreat”, which entailed spending 3 days and nights on the streets of London with no possessions other than clothes. I was struck by […]
  • Integrating Head & Heart Part IIIntegrating Head & Heart Part II Continued from Part I Smiling at Stress Our first events were in Boston, where we convened as an entire group. The day before the Harvard University event we had a number of decisions to make, and the full community of […]