Does it strike anyone else as odd -- the longing to become, in one way or another, a star, when the overwhelming evidence points to the fact that stars have a way of devolving into a hellish realm of self-aggrandizement and disregard for others?
The star-dom isn't just Hollywood or political ascendancy. It seems to rest on the notion that things as they are deserve to be better. "I am nobody now, but I want desperately to not-be a nobody." Top of the heap in a social group; enlightened Buddhist teacher; big-money stock broker; most powerful mobster ever ... I want others to acknowledge my light as I do ... with awe and respect and accolades. How come no one notices me?! Just give me Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" and I will die content. Only, of course, 15 minutes is never enough. If I won the lottery, I could handle it despite all the human tales to the contrary.
In London, singing phenom Amy Winehouse, 27, was found dead July 23. No one imagines the cause was something other than the drugs she abused, but autopsy results are not expected before tomorrow.
Music ... what a bright light. But the thin line between the brightness of music and the desire to lay claim to that light because you are the delivery system ... it's hard, sometimes fatally hard.
In Washington, the politicians who were elected not in order that they might be re-elected but rather to serve as a thoughtful conduit for their constituencies and the nation are grappling unsuccessfully with the issue of raising the nation's debt ceiling. It takes courage to serve. It takes care. And it takes a reflection that may be impossible to enact. The light is bright in Washington. Who has the careful willingness to acknowledge the light without trying to imprison it in the "me" who got elected?
In spiritual endeavor, there probably never was a novice who didn't long to be pope, who didn't imagine how bright s/he might shine with enlightenment or attainment or serenity or some monastic castle. The light is bright in spiritual endeavor. Luckily, in some traditions, there is an effort that goes beyond the hopes and beliefs of novices.
It's a tricky business, getting over the desire to be a star. Subsisting on a diet of pseudo-humble pie doesn't work any better than cranking up the applause meter. The light is the light and it shines on all comers.
Who has the courage and patience for the light?
I don't know, but however difficult the effort may be, it strikes me as more sensible than the empirically disastrous longing to be a star. If you want stardom, just sign up for the Demolition Derby. Crash and burn. Hear the applause. Review the results. Get over yourself ...
And keep it that way.