She stands before us in the spotlight, shoulders heaving, weeping inconsolably into the microphone as she tells her story. This moment, here and now, is what she has lived for all these years. It represents all she’s ever wanted, for as long as she can remember, and if she were to fail, it would mean the end for her, the end of everything. Her grandmother died tragically, we discover, just two weeks ago, at the age of 89. The old woman was a guiding light in her young life, the only person that ever really encouraged her, never faltering in her belief that one day her darling granddaughter would fulfill her dream to be a star. And now that the moment of destiny has arrived, she knows that her beloved grandma will be watching from Heaven. The music begins and the crowd holds its breath…
I have no doubt it ‘makes good television’.
And I have no doubt that the young girl is sincere, that it is her dream to win ‘X-Factor’ stardom, and that her sweet grandmother really did die two weeks ago, (though whether or not it can justifiably be called a ‘tragedy’ when someone passes away at such a ripe old age … but we’ll let that pass). For all I know she’s about to sing with the voice of an angel and break everyone’s heart, (at least those whose hearts aren’t already in pieces from hearing the story). But however well she sings the whole premise of the ‘moment of destiny’ that is about to take place is wrong-headed, harmful to the girl on stage and by extension the rest of us. Why? Because it buys 100% into our society’s fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to succeed in life, or in fact to succeed in anything at all. As long as this poor young hopeful thinks that ‘success’ or ‘failure’ lie with forces outside of her own experience – the judges, the crowd, the television audience – she will be at the mercy of all these forces, and she will continue to be at their mercy even if she goes on to become a ‘star’!
The more you understand of the Three Principles that determine our experience, creating our reality moment-to-moment from the inside out, the more you realise how deluded these young people are who buy into these kinds of shows, and worse, how much genuine joy they are missing out on. If they could stop, just for a moment, and see that they are free to set their own goals, and live according to their own standards, then ‘success’ would suddenly have a whole new meaning for them. Of course it’s not the young woman’s fault. The illusion of instant fame and all the trappings is very pervasive in our world. The program makers know this and play into it for all it’s worth. But anyone with a genuine love of music and singing would see the show for what it really is, an opportunity to be heard and nothing more, after which the music will play on. Where, in any of it, is the failure?
No doubt this particular girl has been told by friends and family that she is ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’, a ‘star’ and so on. I have no problem with that. She is all of those things. But she is awesome by virtue of being a member of the human race, regardless of any talents she may possess. She is ‘amazing’ because she possesses the gift of consciousness. Though she doesn’t know it she has already ‘won’, and she has everything she needs inside her to be anything she chooses. So why is she there on the screen, pleading her case as though her life depended on it? She’s setting herself up for failure, by playing by their rules, not hers.
I can’t sit in judgement of her singing voice and I won’t judge her for telling her sad story and embarrassing herself before the watching millions. Here’s why: I’ve been there myself. (No, not as a contestant on X-Factor!) I mean I’ve looked to the world ‘outside’ for proof of my own success, like so many others. For years I thought success was something tangible, money, cars, houses, and a million pound business, in a word, status. I chased after material THINGS with just as much misplaced passion as the contestants on these shows, until I woke up to the truth. Now I know success is none of those THINGS. Success comes from a feeling of wellbeing, a feeling of gratitude. It’s a great feeling and it’s formless. You cannot define it with words but when you feel it you know in that moment. …. YOU HAVE IT! …. It’s FREEDOM!
How do you define success? How and when will you achieve it?