I have come to think of the word as something really neat, like some dish newly tasted, or an unexpected gift received at an unexpected time.
It reminded me of my dead writers, framed and hanging on my wall all toffee-nosed and stiff; of self-proclaimed godsends whose claims to illustriousness serve only purposes of vanity, if not vanity at all; of living, breathing greatness made possible by healthy stubbornness, a willing spirit, unsurpassed talent, a beautiful mind.
Every other thing served on a gold plate comes only second to this more alluring prospect of garnering a people’s ovation.
It’s amusing how hastily some people make obtuse claims to fame, and it’s of the more sinister kind that wittingly steps on other people’s achievements.
Others, well, they will always think of themselves better than the rest, for one daft reason or another. I guess they just can’t help it, despite reality pounding on their doors. But then again, there’s always the prickly Jay Leno: “You aren’t famous until my mother has heard of you.”
That one compelling life deserves more attention than most, perhaps, is a necessary thing for humankind. They are living examples of what the mind and the body can achieve, a victory against what is otherwise notorious. We needed to know to what extent we can pull the muscles, stress out the bones, unroll the imagination and the soul to limits far beyond the scope of reason and what is commonplace.
Of famous, we think of men and women who have crossed the line between sanity and insanity, the Picassos, Michaelangelos, Beethovens, Churchills, and in J.K. Rowling’s case, the Jane Austens of this world.
On a more limited scope, there are the Jose Rizals, Marcelo del Pilars, Juan Lunas, Nick Joaquins, the N.V.M. Gonzaleses, etc. That famous is synonymous with the dead has been quite the tradition in the art of writing until, of course, Greg Brillantes, Jimmy Abad, Pete Lacaba, Butch Dalisay, F. Sionil Jose, Rio Alma, Cerilo Bautista and a host of others came along. Joaquin and Gonzales were already great men of letters prior to passing away.
Thinking thus, it dawned on me I am not famous. And as such I am not man’s first choice. And probably will never be. I accept that, with a quiet prayer, if only to ease the pang of rejection. Today, I have made the decision to live with it.
The chance at greatness will always be there for one to grab, if that same one is willing to give up more than he thinks he could offer. Just as there is a cost to everything, greatness—or simply being famous—demands a price tag. To be famous in a world hankering for “heroes,” sacrifice, talent, even silent, immutable destiny are but rungs on a ladder of other more practical achievements—like a regular facial skin uplift or years of salty crackers for dinner.
Problem is, I hate salty crackers.