Saturday, June 03, 2006

Celebrating lives

Brew of the day: Egyptian Liquorice

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time.What do you get in the end of it? A death. What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards.You should die first, you know, start out dead, get it out of the way. You wake up in an old age home feeling better every day.You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, then, when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirementYou drink alcohol, you party,you're generally promiscuous (hey, you've only got a few years left, what's the big deal?)

And you get ready for High School. Then you go to primary school, you become a kid, you get toys, you play, you have no responsibilities,and finally, you become a baby. The last step ~ you spend your last 9 months floating peacefully with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap, larger quarters everyday, and then…you finish off as an orgasm

Just had to share that…arrived in my inbox a couple of days ago and I’ve not stopped thinking about it since! ‘Tis brilliant, me thinks.

I picked up a copy of a colour glossy this week ~ OK! (celebrity magazine). Have to be completely honest here and say I don’t normally read magz like this. My bedside reading includes Utne, Mothering, Compleat Mother, Nexus, Permaculture, The Ecologist, Mother Earth News, Green Health News, The Miracle Worker (ACIM), The Mountain Astrologer…you get my drift.

So, let’s just say I was doing a little ‘research’. Don’t ask!

Anyway, it got me thinking about how ‘unreal’ it must be to have your life under a microscope like the day to day lives of many celebrities. Clearly the word celebrity comes from ‘celebrate’. We celebrate these people for….oh, I’m coming unstuck. Why ARE they celebrated?

Originally celebrities were people we looked up to…Royalty; well-known politicians; famous sportspeople; brilliant singers/musicians. At one stage we didn’t know anything about them or their private lives and intimate side. Due to the way the media has changed these days we even know what colour underwear they wear (or don’t).

People were famous for doing something spectacular or courageous rather than just being someone (with the possible exception of Royalty and the aristocracy, because they were born into it). But now, in most cases, even Royalty has been reduced to the commonplace. They have no more celebrity than people who’ve been on TV or in newspapers.

We still have celebrities we can look up to, but now there are a lot of people who are celebrities just because their faces (or other body parts) are well-known. A lot of them don’t actually do anything that requires talent, skill or training.

Why are we interested in them and their lives? Is it because we enjoy their failures, the criticism of them? Do we feel better than them in some way because even though they’re well-known, they’re not actually as talented or accomplished as we are? Or perhaps for some people it is a matter of identifying with the celebrities because they’re ‘just like us’ and there they are on television. Does it prove that you don’t have to be special to be ‘special’?
When we place people on a pedestal it is inevitable that at some point they’ll slip off. After all, every human being has feet of clay, else they wouldn’t be here!

Because of the all-pervasiveness of the media, if you’re a celebrity/in the public eye, you can’t afford to have any skeletons in the cupboard because, sooner or later, they will regain their flesh and come back to haunt you. The only alternative to being squeaky clean is to come clean...that is, to be completely transparent. To make a virtue of your lack of virtue, so to speak.

Two celebs I admire are Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon ~ beautiful, charming, charismatic women with wealth beyond belief who manage to live ‘normal’ lives with both feet firmly on the ground.

Oprah always practices Random Acts of Kindness. People don’t know these acts were performed by her ~ she just does them. And despite her huge success she continues to ‘work’ doing her chat show, not because she needs the money, but because she knows how many people are employed because of her. She is very generous to her staff (and their families) with medical insurance, annual holidays and so on.

Reese Witherspoon is now the highest paid actress in the world. She doesn’t have a nanny. She only takes an acting job if her husband is able to stay home with the children ~ they have a pact that the children will always have at least one parent to be with them. I love that!! She helps out at the school and she cooks her family’s meals.

There is such pressure on celebrities (is it by us the observers, or by the media on our behalf?) to be ‘perfect’. But have you ever noticed that the perfection *we’re* seeking is ridiculous and almost always based on physical appearances rather than on character or soul development? I’m often intrigued by the front covers of the glossy magz which lined shelf after shelf screaming out for attention. One week they crucify celebs for having too many veins in their hands and this week their thighs are too big! Who’d be a celeb?

I really feel for Victoria Beckham. She can’t have enjoyed a PROPER meal for years to fit into jeans that my 8 & 10 year old certainly wouldn’t fit into.

Anyone can be a celeb these days…it doesn’t take skill, talent and what I believe to be the most important attribute, charisma. Imagine the changes we could make in the world if celebs did possess these? Wouldn’t we all sit up taking notice? With celebrity almost always come power and money. In this world these two things tend to have a mighty sway.

My mother asked me once what I’d rather have ~ wealth or power. “What’s the most important to you?” she asked during one of our deep and meaningful conversations.
I said to her that actually the most important thing for me was neither of those but communication. I need clarity in communication and am challenged when people don’t listen, or don’t remember what was communicated. For me, clear communication is far more valuable than any amount of money or power. And that perhaps power is inherent in honest and authentic communication.

What can we learn from the life of celebs? Mostly, that we don’t need to be in the spotlight to be a shining example to others. Our daily actions, however apparently small and insignificant, have ripple effects which go out into the world and impact on others in ways we could never imagine. The smile, the moment when we REALLY listened to another (instead of letting our own script run through our head at the same time)….these are what give people that *special something*.

Random acts of kindness never end with the person (or plant or animal) to which they were directed. It’s impossible. Our whole world is one wide web, much like the internet. We’re all connected (whether we like it or not!).

This week I learned of the death of a very special man whose life really does deserve celebrating. I don’t expect anyone reading this to have heard of him. For the past four years that I’ve been producing The Mother, whenever we’ve met he’s made me feel like the most important person in the world. And there were times, I can assure you, that I ‘expected’ him to say “Bugger off Mrs Robinson!!!” But no, not once did he do that. He always greeted me with such joy and made me feel special. It’s a rare gift when someone can do that. I’ll remember Malcolm, and his actions and kindness, for as long as I live.

You see, Malcolm was the manager of the printing firm where I have The Mother printed. There have been times, especially in the early days, where I’ve struggled to pay the printing bill because people have taken so long in re-subscribing or wholesalers haven’t paid their bill for 3 – 6 months. I’ve not ever had a loan or overdraft to run this business so rely on money ‘moving’ and flowing as it is designed to. Any other printing firm would have refused to publish any further issues till the balance was paid. Not Malcolm. He never once turned me away. His attitude was always one of complete trust in me. Malcolm would smile and tell me to ignore the accountant’s ‘note’ on the invoices.

Yesterday when I went to the printers to collect my ‘proofs’ for the summer issue, I got rather wobbly (to say the least) expressing my sympathy, but more importantly my immense gratitude about Malcolm, to the new manager and receptionist. They both said that everybody had said the same things about Malcolm. That he really made people feel special.

The strange thing is (perhaps not so strange really), when Malcolm was first diagnosed with cancer I assumed he was just off work with a cold. When I’d asked to see him for a quote on printing some brochures the receptionist said he was off sick. The next week when I arrived at the printers with a magazine for printing, I got out of the car and was suddenly sick in the stomach. “He’s not got a cold, he’s got cancer.” I heard these words in my head.

When I went in and was going over my proofs I asked my ‘main man’ if Malcolm was ok. He looked at me sadly and said he had cancer.

Since then I’ve had about three dreams of Malcolm. I don’t think it is necessarily me being exceptionally intuitive but more to do with the impact he’s had on my life and us ‘connecting’ at a level which goes beyond human understanding.

A man like Malcolm is, sadly, rather rare ~ not just in the business world but in other sectors too. But it is lives like that of Malcolm Warwick which the world should be celebrating!

My life has been touched by him in ways that will go on to benefit other people. And if so many other people have felt touched by his kindness over the forty odd years he spent in business (not to mention his family life), then imagine all that love rippling out into the world. Kind of puts Big Brother ‘celebrity’ into perspective, doesn’t it? Good-bye Malcolm and thank you for everything. Your warm smile will be missed ever so much.

1 comment:

jood said...

being a malcom is whats important eh.

and have you noticed how many people repeat themseleves and forget..!

love jood