I grew up in Rochester, New York, and all I ever wanted to do was go to California and become a "star."
Although not raised in financial security, I was surrounded by a beautiful, loving-kind family, immediate and hugely extended.
My Mother and Father, God bless them in Heaven, each had ten brothers and sisters. As a result, our house was considered "the" house, and every night was a party; not just for the family, but for everyone in the neighborhood - even after they moved out of the neighborhood.
Years after, in the mid-80s, I myself moved out of the neighborhood and onto Los Angeles. And although "stardom," in the traditional sense, had alluded me, I found a measure of success.
However, I decided to return to Rochester to care for my parents in their elderly years.
But everyone else was gone.
No more aunts, no more uncles; no cousins, no more family gatherings; no more nightly parties.
I continued to make the best of it, attained additional layers of success, but still not the stardom I so desperately desired.
However, I had a few revelations:
I would have given anything to have my massive family back...certainly, my Mom and Dad who, when they died, left me nothing of what this world calls secure.
Of course, I did not care for them to gain anything. I cared for them because I loved them (and still do!). And feeling their love in return was enough for me...especially as I grew to appreciate the family that by that time had been long gone.
Today, I am once more back in L.A., and my dreams are in tact; my heart has softened when it most likely should have hardened. My ambitions are more tempered; and I wait to create a family of my own...even at 53 (my Dad was 50 when I was born!). The new knowledge and insight that I've gained through loss...and love...conquers daily the big purchases and the big parties.
In the process, too, I have finally reached my stardom...but not in the way that anyone who doesn't really know me might think:
I've realized that I've always been a star...maybe not of a TV show...or of the big-screen...but I've always been the star of my own life....just as each of us have always been the stars of our own lives.
So, Shakespeare was at least partially correct: life IS a stage - but we are more than just players.
We are the stars!
And yet with this sincere kind of stardom, none of the material things in life compare to the quality of loving-kind human relations.
The great friendships we attain, retain and/or reconnect with over the years, if only for a periodic coffee or lunch with good conversation, come to mean so much more than any career accomplishments.
All of it combines to deliver wisdom and understanding that we are here in this world...not so much to reach our goals...but to reach out to each other in the process of seeking our goals...to reach out to each other with nothing less than gracious greatness and, most of all, humility.
If in the process we should write our scripts, or actually become TV or movie stars, well of course that's a wonderful thing - as long as we at the very least keep it all in perspective.
Certainly, it is good to write the scripts of life. But in order to truly perfect those scripts, and/or to reach any true access to stardom, we must first take the quality time to actually live the scripts of life.