Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Name on the Radio

When I was 9 years old, I had a fantasy that my friends and I were sitting in the car together, scanning the radio stations, when all of a sudden, we heard our names. We listened to the news story and found out that someone was planning to make a movie about the story of how we became friends, and we would all get to star in the movie as ourselves. (I had the movie mapped out in my mind as well, and I had written a few songs for it).

Of course I know now that the story of how my friends and I became friends was not particularly newsworthy.  It wasn't different from other people's stories. It was nowhere near the most heartfelt or interesting story out there. And looking back on it now, I'm not even sure that there was a "story" to us becoming friends - we had a fight, then made up and ended up playing together. That was it.  None of us were celebrities. We didn't know any screenwriters, filmmakers, or talk show hosts who could have picked up our story. The odds of someone deciding to make a professional, feature-length movie about our story were extremely low. The odds that we would be selected to star in the movie with zero acting experience (at the time) just because the movie was about us were also extremely low. Even if I had written the screenplay myself and tried to pitch it, there was just not a strong enough story to sell.  But in my 9-year-old world, hearing our names on the radio and finding out that we were superstars because of a seemingly common experience was not a far-fetched fantasy at all.

Adults are always saying that the world doesn't revolve around you. They act like this is good information to have. They push you to get outside yourself and engage in the world around you. But the fact is, I don't want to engage with the world around me. I don't want to have all this knowledge of the outside world. I was happiest back when my world was small, back when I lived in my own imagination, back when I felt like the world did revolve around me. I was happiest when I envisioned myself being famous and selling books and going on talk shows to tell everyone about the amazing events in my life, like my first play and my favorite beach trip and the time we hosted a family reunion at our house. I felt good back when I felt SPECIAL for everything and had no sense that these were common experiences that weren't good enough to make entire movies about.

I don't want the all outside world knowledge that's in my brain now. I don't want this sense of the world being so huge and just being a small part of it. I don't want this sense of being just like everyone else and expected to work and function and behave just like everyone else. If there were any way for me to take these notions out of my head, I would. If there were any way to hold a magnifying glass over my own life and zoom in entirely, so that my own world felt like the whole world, I'd do it in an instant.

People try to tell you that being full of yourself is a bad thing and that you're actually empty inside and lack self-esteem. They claim that you won't really be happy until you get outside yourself and engage with the world. But I have never felt more deeply fulfilled inside than I did back when my life felt so special that I just knew one day I would hear my name on the radio. 

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