Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm gonna' live forever

Thinking about opera and my ancient history as an ingenue of the operatic stage has really brought me back. My roots and interests in the arts didn't grow out of a childhood packed with exposure to the finer things. I was brought up on Long Island, exposed to a steady diet of Laverne and Shirley, TV Dinners, and Land of the Lost and David and Goliath weekends. Others who studied opera in the New York area were weaned on Mozart and The Met.

I think I was attracted to the arts because they have a transforming quality. A performing artist lives twice as much: once as herself, and once through the character. I was also attracted to the promise of the immortality of fame. My naive teenage thought process had me convinced that with "Fame, I'm gonna' live forever.." and living forever sounded a lot better than dying. I guess I assumed that my rendering of Papagena or Marcellina would be a hot conversation topic for centuries to come.

My line of thinking was reflected in a memoir I just finished reading, Alan Alda's, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. In a chapter he titled "Celebrity and its Discontents" he reflected on his relationship with fame. At first it was a slice of his motivation to pursue a career in acting. He said of fame, "Of course I'd wanted it. It was a way to live forever. There was even a moment in my life when I'd worked out a strategy for eternal life." He certainly attained a fame that was widespread. He noted that a poll conducted in the 1970s found that more grade school-aged kids recognized his face than the image of Abraham Lincoln. He wrote that in his twenties, he'd determined a new method of acquiring immortality, writing. "...I wanted to write really well because otherwise my work wouldn't last very long. Writing lasted..." But his years and his experiences have taught him something else about living forever, that "It all evaporates."

So if someone with the wisdom and world view of Alan Alda has come to recognize that everything we do simply evaporates, where is the motivation for living well? For making art? For doing right? He answered that he finds wisdom in Bosco's Belly. Bosco, his grandchildren's dog, has attained life's true meaning. Watching Bosco lapse into dreamland while having his belly scratched reminds Alda that there is a point to life. "Of course there's a point. Life is the point," he wrote.

So, my friends and fellow blogistas, I urge you to take a moment today and make a point. Stop and smell the roses, or the freshly laundered, warm towels. Savor that sip of tea, or that crumbly melting biscuit. Pause to listen to birdsong, cat meowing, or baby cooing. Take the sun on your face, because fully living every moment may be the only way we can live forever and make a point with our lives.

And now, taking a cue from Cora Spondence, blogger extraordinaire, what was your moment of immortality today?


LJ said...

I blogged

DiaBelo said...

I really like this - "A performing artist lives twice as much: once as herself, and once through the character."

I want to think about that some more...

My moment of immortality is every evening I have a ritual. Right before my husband turns off the light, he looks at me, and smiles. That is the last thing that I see before I go to sleep. I want to imprint that moment in my brain, forever. And I can play that tape whenever I want.

MJ said...

I called a good friend and talked for fifteen minutes--mostly about babies.

Cora Spondence said...

I had 22 minutes of uninterrupted knitting time where I got lost in the repetition of the stitches. Today, I really needed that kind of ZenYarnage.

Anonymous said...

I watch LMJ discover something new and fascinating everyday.. today she stared intently at two gulf fritillaries feeding on my pentas, then do her famous neck turn as she tried to track their fluttering and swooping into the sky.