Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Right Kind of Fame

“ In the older, deeper sense, becoming famous meant something closer to being “known well” rather than simply becoming “well known.” Thus the true sense of fame relates more to the unique quality of one’s life than the simple quantity of one’s renown.”

So writes Michael Meade, that wise philosophical storyteller, in his book The Genius Myth.“Known well” rather than (or in some cases, in addition to) “well known.” I like that. My quantitative fame on my TED talk/ Facebook/ Youtube/ Blog posts/ book sales/ CD sales/ etc. is quite modest by Taylor Swift or Trevor Noah standards, but it gives me great satisfaction when people’s comments about something I’ve written or performed or shared in a workshop shows that they “get it”— they see what I’m aiming for and it’s meaningful to their own unfolding vision and work. It makes me feel known and it helps me know them. That’s a great gift. 

I’ve always thought that the only purpose of quantitative fame is being “well known” enough that you can continue to get work and thus pursue your sense of being "known well." It does indeed give me great satisfaction that through a lifetime of luck (defined as “preparation meeting opportunity”), I am a big enough fish in the small pond of Orff Schulwerk that the invitations keep coming. In two days, I’m off to Singapore (three different workshop venues), Hong Kong, Macau, Bangkok, in the Fall things are lined up for Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Italy, I’m already booked for the Australian National Conference in January 2022. Hooray for it all! 

Just the right size so I don’t have to wear sunglasses in public or dodge Paparazzi, yet can arrive places where strangers feel they know me having read my books or seen some Youtube footage. A reputation that precedes you could be a burden to live up to, but I’ve never felt it as something to prove, because once the workshop starts, the show is so much more about the participants and what kind of joy, laughter, surprising musicality, reflective thought, I can release in them than shining the spotlight on me.

I hope we’re all working on what it takes to be known well—including knowing ourselves well. If Oprah or Terry Gross come knocking, well, answer the door. But don’t wait for the knock. Stepping up to the unique quality of one’s life is enough.

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