“To be blunt, from what I’ve been reading, I feel like if I don’t do something really big in my life, if I don’t become rich and famous or both, my life won’t count for much. You talk about the history-maker and world-changer, and I just don’t identify with that at all. Maybe I would have years ago, when I was a teenager and thought I would be Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker one day, but my life has turned out completely different from what I thought it would be. My life is okay, but you wouldn’t write a book about it or make a movie out of it or anything.”
What you are talking about is what I call the Hollywood mentality, and that can be good or bad. Hollywood has probably made more of an impact on generations of young people in America than any other industry. The movies we watch as we grow up subtly define who we are and what we aspire to be in life. You watched Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker and maybe wanted to a top gun fighter pilot, a SWAT team policeman, or an oceanic explorer. The point is, those characters inspired you to live a heroic life.
Unfortunately, there are other kinds of movies that inspire much less heroic lives. Some kids get hooked on vampire movies like the The Lost Boys or the Twilight series and horror flicks like Paranormal Activity or the Freddy/Jason movies. Many of their lives become dark shadows, just like a famous soap opera years ago, only it’s not funny. Some in my generation saw Animal House and Easy Rider and moved into the world of sex and drugs and complete irresponsibility, thinking that it was the “cool” thing to do. Their lives became defined by the “if it feels good do it” mantra. They became parents and now they don’t understand why their kids are in and out of rehab, relationships and jobs.
Through the years, I have seen and talked to thousands of young kids who are walking in the streets of LA as prostitutes and drug addicts. They came to Hollywood to become rich and famous in the movies. If there is any place that illustrates that “all that glitters is NOT gold,” it is Hollywood…get lost down the wrong street and you will know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately there are still so many waiting for their big break, and they think that one big break is going to make their lives perfect. Just talk to someone like Robert Downey Jr., a friend of mine, and you will find out that getting that big break and becoming rich and famous does not guarantee self-respect, satisfaction, or happiness. Then go on the internet and look up how many young “stars” have died of drug overdoses or suicide in the last ten years.
“Okay, I see your point, but what about those who have made it in the business world or in education or sports? There are a lot of rich and famous people who are not in Hollywood.”
You have been blunt with me, and now I’m going to be blunt with you. As a whole, our society has become celebrity obsessed, and I believe it has become one reason many feel like their lives are insignificant, unimportant, and even worthless. Most of the world never heard of my mother, but she sure made all the difference in the lives of her children! To us kids, she is a world-changer and a history-maker. I can give you so many examples of people you never heard of who have made a huge difference in my life. I’m sure you can think of examples in your life as well.
The world is made up of all kinds of people–tall and short, chubby and skinny, different colors, cool and not so cool. Some are famous, some are wealthy, and some are poor and unnoticed; but most people are right in the middle. All in all, being great is not defined by fame or wealth, but but what you do with your life, and how you “treat your neighbor”. What will your legacy be? Will it be great? Will you be defined by your position or by what you did to change the world?