The other day a friend said, “Don’t forget us little people when you become a rich and famous writer.” To which, I replied, “I am a little people and I’ll never forget where I came from.” What prompted this warning? A discussion, actually more of a query, from a group of friends who were sharing their successes in life. When the wheel spun my way, I simply alluded to the fact that I have been writing a book and I hope to have it completed in a few months and when it is finished I plan to begin my next manuscript.
I am confident; at some point in my writing career, I will become well known. Notice, I did not say rich and famous. I figure if I pound out two books a year for the remainder of my life, which is what I intend to do – my personal goal – I will have a shelve full of books dedicated to my handiwork.
At that point in the future, when I am recognized as a rising star in the publishing industry; people will no doubt creep out of the woodwork and take credit for their contributions in my life. I am equally certain, the naysayers along the way will turn their doubts and dislikes to loving tolerance and they will embrace the fame, for in their minds, as I am confident they will boast to their friends, they “personally know” me.
I do not know how I will feel when that day comes. However, I do know that I agree with the sentiment actor Will Smith expresses; “If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.” Too many people, who once would not piss on you if you were on fire, want to become your best friend when fame and fortune are involved. There are many horror stories of lottery winners who are hounded by new-found old-friendships and long-lost relatives who all want a piece of the proverbial monetary pie.
During my days with the front office of a National Football team, to no surprise, I heard from people who I hadn’t talked to in years. “So I hear your with the Bears, can you get me tickets? Can you get me on the field? Can you get me in the locker room?” To which I would respond, “Sure, all you have to do is fill out an application and get hired by the team. Can you do that?” It didn’t set too well with most inquirers, they seemed to feel if I were a part of the team, I could get them and their entourage of friends tickets at the drop of a dime, even though the last I saw them was ten years prior and even then they acted like a schmuck (dickhead).
While with the National Football team, I was exposed to the realities of fame and fortune and how money and media attention can alter an individual. I witnessed young boy’s fresh out of college, some barely out of high school, thrown into multi-million dollar contracts and adorned with lavish luxuries. The young boy’s were destined to change – for the worse. It was a side of professional sports I wish I had never seen; it changed me, tarnished my perspective, and it made me more cynical toward all professional sports.
When it comes to fame or fortune, I am not concerned about future changes within myself. See my changes have occurred gradually and in very different ways than professional sports figures. I have had a lifetimes experience dealing with change. Not only have I rubbed elbows with the very wealthy and the famous, in my days with the clergy, I have counseled the wealthy and famous, and I have heard their tales of loneliness and pain. Likewise, growing up, I have been with the downtrodden and I have shared their plight of homelessness and hunger. I am no better a person than any other person, but I consider myself gifted that I had been given these opportunities in life to write about them and perhaps make a difference in some way.
When it comes to success, I have one small surprise in store for all those people who wish to ride the coattails of my so-called success; I measure success in a different way than in the conventional ways of fame or fortune. To me, success is in the fact I have overcome the obstacles that once bound me – obstacles such as, illiteracy, ignorance, and the shame of prejudice. There are those physical obstacles I overcame and I deal with daily – a defective heart, hearing loss, a defective leg, and the diseases that go along with age and poor health, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
My obstacles have ranged from enduring physical abuse as a child to abandonment and homelessness. From being told, I would not be able to walk normal again to years of physical therapy and climbing a flight of stairs. I have overcome the obstacle of being labeled a retard by elementary teachers, classmates, friends and family alike, simply because I had crossed eyes and spoke with a stammer. Of course, I journeyed down these paths mostly alone, or with only the closest people in my life who remain at my side today.
So, you see, to me, success takes on a very different guise. To me, I have already reached the pinnacle of my success. Any fame or fortune that may follow as a result of my writing endeavors, well, that’s merely nothing more than fringe benefits, icing on the cake. So, my friends, and those of you who may come out of the woodwork and claim you are my closest companions, save yourself the trouble and the embarrassment, for I must agree with Will Smith, “If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.”
This has been a… View From My Loft