maybe fame is, after all is said and done, boring

Friday, November 16, 2012

This is the tree that lives just outside my window, and this is yesterday.  I've done nothing to amplify or affect the color of the leaves.  They are just like this, for now.

Sometimes I think about how my life could be bigger, my reach broader, my impact more lasting.  Sometimes I wish.  Sometimes I measure myself against impossible standards, or against something somebody said.  And then the light will change, and I'm reminded of how empty and meaningless that kind of questing is.

Today that light was these words about fame from Jack Gilbert, quoted in the New York Times obituary written by Bruce Weber. 

In 1962, Mr. Gilbert was a poetry star. He had won the Yale prize, and the editor Gordon Lish had devoted an entire issue of the literary journal Genesis West to him. Theodore Roethke, Stephen Spender and Stanley Kunitz praised him in print. He was in demand as a reader. But it didn’t take. 

“I enjoyed those six months of being famous,” he recalled in the Paris Review interview. “Fame is a lot of fun, but it’s not interesting. I loved being noticed and praised, even the banquets. But they didn’t have anything that I wanted. After about six months, I found it boring. There were so many things to do, to live. I didn’t want to be praised all the time — I liked the idea, but I didn’t invest much in it.”


patti.mallett_pp said...

Oh, that is wonderful. A word to those wise enough to take heed. (May we be such.)

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I always think of that part in Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD where she's had her first taste of fame, and she's feeling very unsettled, off-center in spirit. And her friend reminds her: "'The world can't give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts. ... [and] by the same token, the world can't take it away.'"

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous leaves and wise words. I also like Jennifer's quote from Bird by Bird.

Amy said...

I cannot believe that tree! I am so jealous. We just don't get the Fall Colors here.

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