Saturday, August 16, 2008

Truman in love with Truman

Pat and I watched "Capote" recently, and we were both surprised by how manipulative and full of himself Truman Capote was. At one point in the movie, Harper Lee makes the comment that "Truman is love with Truman." We both agreed, as I think most viewers would, that the man was incredibly vain.

But there was also something interesting about him because he was fairly confident that his book was going to be a major hit and possibly even change the way people wrote--and he was absolutely right.

What it would be like to know that what you create will have a national or worldwide impact? I guess for Truman the cheeky statement "It's hard to be humble when you're this talented..." would actually be applicable.

The same applies elsewhere: What would it be like to be Solomon, knowing that the was the wisest man in the world? Or Warren Buffet, the current richest man in the world who toppled Bill Gates with a $10 billion profit last year. Or Nastia Liukin, the Russian-American gymnast who won the gold in the women's individual all-around two nights ago. (At the age of 18, she has her own sponsored website.)

With all of these--wealth, talent, physique, success--the unfortunate side affect is what afflicted both Solomon and Truman Capote. Once blessed with success, it apparently becomes increasingly difficult to maintain humility, when in reality even the most talented individuals owe their abilities to others--if not to a higher power, then at the very least to those who have poured into them, influenced them, and enabled them to reach the heights that they have.

It leaves me wondering what will happen to Michael Phelps when he makes Olympic history.

I think the desire for fame is ultimately a wrong desire because there's no ceiling or limit to it. Do you want to be the best in your school? In the country? In the world? If fame is the main focus, there can only be disappointment because in the unlikely event that someone hasn't done it better in the past, there will almost certainly be someone who does it better in the future. More than that, focusing solely on fame negates the truly fulfilling element of achievement. The only thing that can meaningfully set us apart is how we impacted others while we were here.
(Photo from Peep Show footage.)

Solomon has this to say:
Better was a poor and wise youth
than an old and foolish king
who no longer knew how to take advice.

The majority of us, however, will probably be faced with a more likely dilemma. There's a bit in the British serial "Peep Show" where Jeremy says to Mark rather forlornly, "What if I'm not really in the 5 percent of people who think they are good and really are, and instead I'm actually in the 95 percent of people who think they are good but really aren't?"

1 comment:

Marta said...

my question is this: what does it take to become excellent? how come not that many christians are the best in their fields?

theory: it takes a degree of sacrifice, obsession, and hyper-focus to become excellent at something. is idolization the only way we can truly become good at stuff? example: heath ledger going crazy to give one of the best acting performances of our generation.