Dear Actors, Singers, Celebrities … I Am Sorry

(another cross-post)

I found these two lovely posts on my Facebook newsfeed a few times over the past few weeks:

Aren’t you glad you wanted to be famous?

There’s nothing better than living in a country where I can determine the value of other people by their jobs. Where I can take my right to think, say, do and be whateverIgoddamnplease and shove it in everyone’s face while telling them that they are not allowed the same.

You celebrities, you make life easier for us in so many ways. Your music, films, television shows, books, and art provide us escape when we need it. We’ve even made some of you famous like circus side-show performers because we can’t feel good about ourselves unless we trash someone else – and who better than a celebrity, who is not close enough to defend him or herself. (We have taken passive-aggression to perverted lengths, haven’t we?)

Thank you. We return the favor by not allowing you your own escape (Isn’t that right, Robin?).

One day we will decide to like you and put you up on a pedestal – but that pedestal is made of clay and sits on sand. What you give us to entertain us will only be enough for so long, so we must take away your privacy and make unreasonable demands on you. Smile for us, talk to us, give up your entire life for us. Let us chase you and hound you, and sell your used napkins on eBay. When that’s not enough, let us delve further into your lives so that we may mock you for your stupid decisions, laugh at your relationships’ ends, and insult you for being the human that your stardom apparently was supposed to have taken away from you. We accuse you of being fake, then criticize you when you try to be real. When you try to maintain what we appear to expect from you, we mock you some more for trying to remain the same.

Once you’re up on that pedestal, you are expected to lead by example – unless, of course, you have a different opinion. We want you to be good role models, and insult you when you try – but make sure to give us a good excuse for why our children act the way they do so that we don’t have to accept any blame.

We will expect you to spend your money on what we deem worthy, using the “use your status for good” theory – until it’s not money you are offering.

You will not win.

I have seen the above two posts on the Facebook pages of people who post all that shit about following your dreams, being who-you-are-warts-and-all, not allowing yourself to be pigeon-holed, treating others with kindness, and even bible verses – now, I do not think those types of posts are ‘shit’, but they are if that person who posted them means that anything positive, tolerant, supportive and nice are only the rights of him or herself. One person even posted one of the above memes AND a few posts later put up a political endorsement by a celebrity. Which is it?

(It is quite a skill to talk out of both sides of your mouth, isn’t it?)

I applaud all of you; it takes courage to stand under the microscope in front of such a large audience – not like those of us who hide behind smaller spotlights and only voice opinions from behind computer screens.

We are the real actors; we pretend to love you, but we will use and then crucify you.

I am sorry.

I SEE You, San Nguyen

For the job-that-pays-my-bills, I visit stores that sell my company’s product. Since my territory covers the Boston area to mid-New Hampshire, I spend a lot of time in my car. In some cities and towns, though,  I have stores that are close enough together that I can park the car once and walk back and forth between them. It’s never a problem – well, except for that one time a young police officer stopped me with, “Are you soliciting, Miss?”

(He called me “Miss”!)

Anyway, today was one of those heavy walking days. When the weather is nice I allow myself a slower pace because I enjoy looking around when I walk.

When I’m inside the stores I need to visit I talk with the owners or managers for a bit, fill out a report on my cell phone, and take pictures.

I’d just walked outside of one of my stores and was taking pictures when a man stopped me and earnestly asked me to take his picture. I was a little confused at first; he spoke broken English and I couldn’t tell if he was trying to get me to take his picture or not take his picture. Normally, when other people are nearby they duck out of the way to avoid the camera, but this gentleman was trying to get my attention. I told him I was taking pictures of the store and he smiled cheesily then pointed to his chest and opened his arms wide in a “Look at me!” pose.

I took his picture, giving him a minute to assume his position as it appeared to matter to him. My noticing that point made me think. Why did I find it unusual, or why did I notice, that he needed a moment to think about his pose before I snapped the picture? People pose for pictures all the time – all.the.time. – and adjust themselves for pictures, yet this seemed different.

I got another thought: he might never get his picture taken. That would make this – this simple act of taking a picture – a big event.

Digital cameras and cell phones have made it possible for us to take as many pictures of as many things as we want to (without worrying about running out of film/flash or the time it takes to develop the pictures). And we do. We need only one picture for our profile on Facebook, and we can take thousands just to get the right one. We think nothing of whipping out the phone to take random selfies with each other, a coffee cup, or a burrito. Even my Facebook friends six times removed can see that I take great advantage of that opportunity.

That privilege.

And here was this man, asking me to take his picture.

Look at me!

I talked with him for a moment after I took his picture. I introduced myself and shook his hand – and then he took my hand and cradled it against his cheek. When we said goodbye he didn’t ask for money or anything; all he wanted was his picture taken. When I was a few steps away from him I turned back to look; he was still looking at me and I waved.

Look at me.

LOOK at me.

For all the enjoyment I get when I’m walking around, I know there are still some things I don’t see. I’m absolutely certain that on days that I’m rushing around for my ‘important’ busy-ness that I miss even more –

– like people.

Acknowledgment of one another is huge. It doesn’t hurt to greet someone when you make eye contact, or even greet someone before you make eye contact. People matter, and need to feel like they matter. Think about how you feel when you feel snubbed by someone you know, or how it feels to be ignored. Think about what it might feel like to be unacknowledged. Most of us question our existence in times of stress and tragedy; how much more would you question the Universe if you felt your existence went unnoticed?

I take pictures as casually as I breathe (another privilege I take for granted). How lonely does one have to feel to ask a stranger to take his picture?

It’s not like I will see him again, or exchanged phone numbers with him to text the picture to him. He will not get the picture, but I will have it.

San Nguyen, I am very happy I met you today. Even if we never see each other again, we are tied forever in that moment and right here.

One more thing …

I see you.

san-nguyen-11-1-16-cropped

 

Today I Will Enjoy My Rights

Today, I will enjoy the right to sit on my porch with my coffee.
Today, I will enjoy the right to waste more time with a second cup.

Today, I will also enjoy my right
to spend some time alone
to spend time with friends
to listen to music
to love.

Today, I might enjoy my right
to work
to be overwhelmed by how much I need to do
to worry about money
to miss someone.

Today, I could even enjoy my right
to be the jerk who cuts someone off in traffic
to whine about what I don’t have
to be envious of what someone else has
to be petty.

Today,

(maybe)

I might even realize
that just by waking up this morning
I was granted the Choice
to decide what I will, might, or could do
and be
— to be nice or mean
to accept or resist
to love or hate
to enjoy or resent —
understanding that it is Choice
that makes all of this a privilege

and then enjoy the ability to see
how privileged I really am.