Years ago, I ran into major star at an event. (We were in line for refreshments.) This was someone whose music influenced me deeply ever since my early college years, and I’ve followed them faithfully ever since–20 years at the time, almost 50 now.
I told them that. Even as I struggled to express how much they meant to me, I could see “that face”:
“Yeah, okay. I’m tired. I hear this all the time. I get it. Thank you. But I just want to get my effin’ drink here, in peace!”
They didn’t say that. But the numb expression on their exausted face was clear. I felt awful.
And I felt awful after I did it again recently.
I had an opportunity to meet a star. Another REAL star. A famous person. I got to go backstage, and meet them. And foolishly, instead of just saying “hello” and moving on, I once again tried to tell them how much their work means to me.
And I could tell, once again, how much I bored with my little story.
Again, this person was gracious. I am not complaining. I was embarrassed I’d done it again.
They’d just completed a performance. They get hundreds of those backstage visits a year. They were already exhausted, after working the stage for hours.
And here comes a perfect stranger who hopes to “connect” at the worst possible time. What if every person, the hundreds of thousands of people who love their work, did that? “I know you, you don’t know me, I think you’re wonderful, do you “see” me????”
I have a confession to make…
The older I get, the harder it is to remember, and recognize, my own fans/customers.
This is embarrassing, because…Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? You made the time to visit my studio/website/show, you had the sense of purpose to collect a piece, your purchase helps me stay in business so I can continue making, and our conversation lifted my heart.
So when I see you again, and you have to remind me who you are and what we talked so passionately about, I want to sink into the floor.
Most people are understanding. “Why should you remember me?? I was one of hundreds who visited your studio that day! Don’t worry about it.”
But I always remember that first “star” encounter, and cringe. The second encounter was totally on me.
Where am I going with this?
It’s about a creative person’s “dream”, our desire for fame, the need for proof that the world loves what we do.
I realize I don’t really want to be “famous” anymore. I wouldn’t be good at it.
Trust me, it’s not because I’m “more evolved” than these starry folks. They have talent, they’ve worked hard to get it out into the world, and I celebrate every measure of success they achieve. They work hard to be gracious and appreciative of their audience, even when it means putting on a happy face when they are drained and exhausted.
I just realize I would not be nearly as gracious as they are if I were in their shoes.
Do I love what I do? Yes. Do I want my work out in the world? Yes! Do I want my work to be seen, and admired, and respected, and loved? YES!! Am I grateful for the people who let me know, especially when they love it enough to actually buy it? OH GOD YES.
But I also believe my work has a purpose in the world. I feel compelled to connect with my followers, my visitors, my collectors. I’m honored when my work, our conversations, inspire them, heal them, encourage them on their own creative journies.
I can only do that when the encounters are “small”. Personal. Intimate (spiritually.) Enjoyable. I know I would not handle fame nearly as well.
It’s not a “be careful what you wish for, you might get it” thing.
It’s know what you really want, instead of what our celebrity-driven, limelight-lit world tells us what we should want.
Summed up beautifully, and with humor, in my all-time favorite cartoon (Sally Forth) by Francesco Marciuliano.