Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chosen, But for What?

I have no answers, only questions. But, lately, I'm beginning to think that's OK, I'm beginning to think that's all there is. In fact, I'm all of a sudden aware that even I, who seems to ask endless questions of myself and others, am not actually asking enough of the really hard questions. There are so many, though, and, often, the questions themselves--let alone the potential answers--are hard to face.

But paying attention, really probing beyond the surface, is so important. It is what will help us at least understand how we've arrived where we are if not exactly where to go next. We have to look around, to see what's underneath the surface. I give out a lot of gold stars to people I have realized are often much different than they appear, to people who so often want to serve in so many ways beyond their current role. Waiters are writers, baristas accountants or the greatest guitarists. Then, photographers really want to be actors, Wall St. guys dream of dumping it all to draw. It is hard to figure who to be, much as it seems simple as a kid. We all want to add value, to find out the meaning of why we’re here on earth. It's not so easy.

I have of late been looking up at the clock at exactly 11:11, placing important calls right as the ones band together. I have heard that it's a sign, my sister is convinced of it. I decided to google it for some information. The first thing I found on my search of "the meaning of 11:11" was from, which offered that seeing the numbers a lot means that one has been chosen to “pierce the veil of illusion,” that this person must "lead the way to the Greater Reality, to the Greater Love."

Cool, I thought. I was always the last to be chosen for dodge ball (I never paid attention enough to know when to avoid the ball)and I have never felt that being born Jewish, alone, should place me in the Chosen One category. Here is was, though, right on my screen: if I noticed 11:11, I was important. Of course, I've always believed I am meant to do that, to spread truth. Isn't that why I'm a writer? This is what I thought, and, then, I began to laugh at myself.

I’m not a pollster, since I don’t really believe so much in the power of what people say when pressed, unrelaxedly, into giving specific answers. But I believe if I were to poll people, most people, the people, certainly, reading these words, I would imagine everyone feels the same: that they were put on earth for a reason, a good reason. I think we spend our whole lives trying to figure what that it is. Some think about it more than others. Maybe, I often think about myself and others corroborate, that thinking is a luxury.

“Am I too hopeful about the idea of possibility?” I asked my husband the other morning we lay in bed in the earlier light of Spring. I don’t even know why I ask him. I know the answer. It is yes. I am forever hopeful that I will figure my reason for being, that others will too. It is why I try to reward all I can, why I want everyone everywhere to get a gold star. I love looking around noticing who people are really trying to be. Sometimes, it is so clear.

For example, one night a friend I hadn't seen in a bit showed up at dinner in a jacket and long beard, and something about him rang familiar.

“Hello Hemingway...” I said. He looked at me strangely. Apparently, I was dead on, that’s exactly who he was channeling, who he really wanted to be.

The other night I met a man, an actor and acting coach, who sat next to me listening to jazz at The Blue Note. After talking to him a bit, I said what I was thinking: “You look just like Aaron Eckhart,” I said. He blushed slightly. “Wow, thanks!” he said. Someone down the way offered up another suggestion of who he seemed to look like, but he was not nearly so pleased.

Later in the evening, after we had hung out for hours, he came clean. “My ex-girlfriend and I played a game where we would ask what celeb we would set each other up with. I always said Aaron Eckhart…” I smiled. Of course. I could see he was aiming to be him, clearly. Just as I saw the waiter I had watched at the gym, a guitarist and, now, video editor, and immediately called it out.

“Jake, from 16 candles…” I said.

He had blushed. “Wow, my wife is going to be really excited to hear that…” he said. Jake was, after all, the great dream man of a generation.

As for me, as for others seeing who I want to be, who I am modelling myself after, I heard not too long ago, "Barbra Streisand!" from an astute subway rider.

“Only in Funny Girl I hope…” I said smiling. I definitely want to be Barbara in that movie, strong, sexy--mostly for her personality-- and hilarious.

Recently, I got Carole King. I smiled then, too.

“Did you see Grace of My Heart?” I asked the man, a regular at our local bar, Brookvin, who my husband and I both adore talking to. He shook his head. It is, arguably, one of my favorite movies. I related so much to the lead character, played by Illeana Douglas. She is based on Ms. King, a prolific songwriter of the 60s and 70s. It chronicles her life, her many varied relationships, her efforts to write and sing and figure her way through with strength and creativity, her efforts to truly value her unique self and to help others see and value themselves.

I am not Ms. King, of course, just as nobody is anyone else but who they are. But in questioning who we want to be, who beyond the surface we might really be, it is great to have models. It is challenging, after all to figure our role, even if we might think we have been "chosen."

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