“Look at me! Look at me, Mommy!” How many times have you heard that cry as a little child appeals to his or her mother for attention for doing something clever? Lots, I expect. It’s an old catch-cry probably as old as Humanity itself. But we know it doesn’t stop with children. It goes on for most of our lives. All of us, it seems, want to be noticed by someone in authority, or someone who can do something for us, change our world. It is for this simple reason: we want to be noticed in a favorable light. We want approval; pats on the back. We desire acknowledgement.
This has become more and more apparent to me over the years, but particularly since the popularity of the Internet as a common means of communication. Here, we can ask the world to look at us without giving too much about ourselves and our motives away. Yet it doesn’t take a lot of insight on behalf of those reading or watching to figure out that the man or woman, girl or boy, making the request is really after some sort of acknowledgement that they are worth our attention. “I have something important to say!”
For a long time I was of the opinion that my own seeking after recognition was based on purely altruistic reasons. ‘I wish to be heard or read or viewed, because I’m making the world a better place.’ Then I realized I wanted this better place so I could be heard more often. Not only more often, but to bigger, more prestigious groups of listeners. Why speak at the local Rotary club dinner when I could be speaking to thousands at a major conference venue? Why get the approval of a dozen, when I can get it from thousands?
So, I needed to admit to myself that I was, as so many of us are, a seeker after ‘Glamour.’ Desire for this glamour was what was driving me. It wasn’t just, “Look at me, those of you that know me,” but “Look at me – entire world!”
This, then, is the spur to fame for so many of us. We want the world to admire us for what we can do. Sometimes not even that – what we believe! We’ve moved from childhood to adulthood and as with ‘big boy toys’ being expensive sports cars, and yachts, big boy ambition is just more of the same – attention, acknowledgement, recognition.
Sidartha Gautama, the Buddha, proclaimed that we humans suffer because of two major reasons: craving and aversion. We want what we like or think we will like, and shun and avoid that which we think will not be pleasant for us. The deeper the craving, the more the pain we experience as what we’re after eludes us. I’m aware of this. However, it hasn’t helped me change my desires. Knowledge is only power if we act on it. I still crave the glamour of what is referred to as, ‘The Big Time.’ The wanting is there and it seems that it will not go away. I’m like a smoker who knows nicotine’s not good for him but who continues to rationalize that it’s still okay to keep on using it.
There has been so much good advice written. ‘Live in the Now.’ ‘The past is a memory and the future imaginary.’ This advice hasn’t helped a lot. I, like so many others – yes, even at this late stage in my life – live for a future which will bring me more of what something inside of me tells me will make me happier, more content with my lot. This, when I know what is needed is a deeper appreciation and recognition of what I already am, notwithstanding what I’ve got.
Is the desire for fame insatiable? I’d have to say no. There are many celebrities who wished they had anonymity. Some are plagued by news-hounds and people who wish to gain some advantage by their association with them. Princess Diana, of course, was one of the most high-profile of these, though many a film and rock star falls into the same category. So it seems we often crave fame until we get it and then, often, we try to shun or avoid it. Is there any neutral ground?
The Buddha would say that there is. He mentions “Desirelessness.” But if we had no desire, we’d have no motivation, no natural impetus to get us involved with living. Where would be our goals? We’d be static, immobile, emotionally dead, perhaps? That, in itself goes against Nature. We always need something: air, water, food, shelter, rest. Surely fame is just something added to a part of Professor Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs? Desire is strong right up to and including the point where we desire to self-actualize; to know and experience as much as we can before we adopt the final and ultimate desire – that of knowing what and who we are. Or to use the spiritual term, to go for Self-realization!
“Look at me!” stems from a belief we have about ourselves. When the knowing and experiencing of what we are comes into and stays in our lives, then perhaps “Look at me!” will no longer be within us. Ego will have been dissolved. The self-image will have given way to the real us and there will no longer be any desire for others to acknowledge us. We will know our greatness. Then our own acknowledgement of ourselves will be all we need to forget ourselves as individuals and to indentify ourselves as being a part with of The All. But for most of us this is still way, way ahead.