The fame game

My mum used to tell me that it doesn’t matter how old I get, inside I’ll always be a 15 year old girl. The older I get, the more true it seems. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel old.

I was greatly saddened yesterday to hear of the death of Neil Armstrong. I was born almost 15 years too late to watch the moon landing but his was a household name when I was growing up. It serves to prove that some achievements are so extraordinary that they transcend nationality and generation. As I was listening to all the different accounts of him today, I found myself wondering how he viewed himself. What does it feel like to be a global hero? Interestingly, so many of his friends said he was almost ambivalent towards it. It was something he did and, when it was over, it was time to move on.

Like all those elderly 15 year olds, I suspect he just felt like a regular guy.

I know I’ve spoken before about how life is made up of moments and sometimes you don’t realise something was a ‘Moment’ until it’s too late. I find myself this week thinking about how a moment is only a Moment if you allow it to define you. Neil Armstrong saw his Moment coming but didn’t want to let it define his existence on this earth.

The last week has been surreal for me. I still can’t believe the overwhelming success of my latest book. I can’t bend my mind around how many people actually have it. It’s been wonderful to get so many messages and friends from around the world, but it still doesn’t feel real. I got a new follower on Twitter this week that gave me a moment so surreal, it fair took my breath away.

Usually when I get a new follower on Twitter, I go check them out. If they seem nice or funny, if they have something interesting to say or even if we just have common interests, I’ll usually follow back. This particular account only had 2 or 3 tweets which didn’t tell me much, so I went to see who she follows. There was a huge long list of celebrities and then…me. It seemed so ridiculous I actually burst out laughing. Honestly, how did I ever end up on a list of famous people???

I was still chuckling about it until yesterday, when I heard about Neil Armstrong, and suddenly it was very sobering. I wondered how many others on that list would laugh to see themselves there because they don’t consider themselves a ‘celebrity’.

It made me wonder about who defines fame. Who determines celebrity status? If the value of something is only what someone is prepared to pay for it, is the value of a personality defined by how others view it?

In the end I find it sad that a man who did not want to be known for one achievement will be known for it for the rest of eternity. Just because you choose not to let something define you does not mean it isn’t the defining moment of your journey through this life. I just hope that wherever he is on his final journey to the stars, he’s able to enjoy heaven as the 15 year old regular Joe that he probably is at heart.

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