girl in mirror dreaming of fame

Inspired by the poem “Famous”

Never forget what you can do.

I forget all the time, don't you?

I forget that I'm able to do so much more than I give myself credit for. I forget that I can overcome adversity, carry on when I think I'm too weary, love in the face of hate, give a little more when I think I'm drained dry, smile at someone when I'm tired, be kind to someone when they're not being kind to me.

We must stop underestimating ourselves…stop forgetting what we can do.

That reminder was inspired by the poem Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye. Here are excerpts that most spoke to me:

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Read the poem HERE in its entirety.

Let's redefine fame

There's a lot of pressure in our society to be successful—famous, if you will. But who gets to determine the criteria for a successful life? Surely it is more than just being famous, as we usually use that word. I love the way the poem above redefines fame.

My mother is “famous,” even at age 90, for her hospitality (throwing great parties) and for keeping up with her children and grandchildren by sending them frequent articles and gifts based on her knowing what they enjoy and are interested in.

My father, was “famous” for handing out little squeeze flashlights with his name on them to everyone (and I do mean everyone) he met. A few days after he died at age 95, I met a security guard at the retirement home where he and my mother lived. He expressed his condolences to my mother, pulled one of Dad's flashlights out of his pocket, and said to her, “I just know Mr. Herbert is up there passing out flashlights to St. Peter and all the angels!”

I want to be “famous” for caring, connecting, and encouraging others.

What do you want to be “famous” for? Whatever it is, be proud…and keep doing it until you feel called to do something else!

Today, I want you to remember this:

You don't have do anything spectacular with your life to make your time here on earth worthwhile. But you must never, ever forget what you can do.

Flashlights raised in toast to Jim Herbert

Flashlights provided by Jim Herbert for his granddaughter's rehearsal dinner are raised in a toast to him. October, 2010. Photo courtesy of my nephew Rob Herbert, who has actually enjoys fame in the more Hollywood sense. Click HERE to learn more.


Source: Words under the Words: Selected Poems (Far Corner Books, 1994)
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