Famous: Not what I thought… Here’s the context. There are several personal crises in my life right now.  We are all doing reasonably well…I am, we are, holding the larger focus, and being in the moment, taking pleasure and joy in ordinary things, breathing deeply…you know the drills.  Oh, and humour.  We try to watch or read something funny each day — creating good vibes and boosting the immune system, you know!  

Apropos taking joy and pleasure in ordinary things, I came across this poem today.  I was touched, moved to tears, and wanted to share it with you.  It’s called Famous.  And Famous: not what I thought!

Full disclosure: Famous is not a word that I’m particularly drawn to… for me it kinda smacks of potential grandiosity, it can touch into my personal sense of inadequacy: I should have been more, done more… (that old tiresome schtick. :-).)   But this poem Famous is definitely not what I thought. As it’s used in this poem, “famous” has a quality of sweetness, connection, meaning, enrichment, familiarity, kindness… Here, why don’t you see for yourself:



Famous: Not What I Thought

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

Button hole

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.

The tone of the poem is so different from the grandiosity of my first impression of the word, and such a relief from the inadequacy. “I want to be famous as the one who smiled back!” How lovely. Famous — known, remembered, kind, ordinary, close… and never forgetting what it/we can do.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook.

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