When I was still in college, one of the most-often played songs in the radio was “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” Memorable lines include these: “And as for fortune and as for fame I never invited them in. Though it seems to the world they were all I desired.”
To some people, fame is offered on a silver platter. Remember the precocious Tatum O’Neal? Being the daughter of her famous father, she was given the supporting role inPaper Moon. She became the toast of the tinsel town and even snatched an Oscar trophy for her debut performance.
”The love of fame is almost another name for the love of excellence; or it is the ambition to attain the highest excellence, sanctioned by the highest authority, that of time,” said William Hazlitt. “Fame is a bee,” wrote poet Emily Dickinson. “It has a song. It has a sting. Ah, too, it has a wing.”
In other words, being famous is not forever just as a person can
never be young forever. So, one wonders: Where is Tatum O’Neal now?
Perhaps the words of Charles Sumner should remind us: “Whatever may be the
temporary applause of men, or the expressions of public opinion, it may be
asserted without fear of contradiction, that no true and permanent fame can be
founded, except in labors which promote the happiness of mankind.”
Alan Bennett adds, “Those who have known the famous are publicly debriefed of their memories, knowing as their own dusk falls that they will only be remembered for remembering someone else.”
Rick Warren, the famous author of The Purpose Driven Life and church pastor of Saddleback Church in California, knows this. He never dreams of becoming rich and famous. When interviewed by Paul Bradshaw recently if what is the purpose of a person’s life here on earth, he replied, “Life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in heaven.”
He further explained, “(Our life here on earth) is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. The day is soon coming when Jesus will raise us from our graves and take us to be with Him. God wants us to practice here on earth how we will live in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.”
Recently, Warren’s wife, Kay, has been diagnosed of having an incurable cancer. “Life is a series of problems: you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.”
From the Bradshaw interview, Warren came up with these words of wisdom: “I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.”
Talking the good things and the bad things, Warren stated, “No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.”
The American pastor said that we have to deal with both the good and the bad that life brings. “Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder,” he pointed out. “For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.”
With the money pouring in, he remembered II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. “We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions, for popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures, guilt, bitterness, materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?”
Today, when Warren gets up in the morning, “I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do. That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.”
Or to quote the words of Alexander Smith, “I have learned to prize the quiet, lightning deed, not the applauding thunder at its heels that men call fame.”
In 1992, some of the world’s most successful businessmen held a special meeting in Chicago. They were a group of high-powered specialists who knew the secret of making money. There was no doubt about where their altar was.
Let’s take a look at the lives of those men 27 years later. Charles Schwab, president of the largest independent steel company, died bankrupt and lived on borrowed money the last years of his life. Samuel Insull, president of the greatest utility company, died a fugitive from justice, penniless in a foreign land. Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company, was insane.
Arthur Cutter, the greatest wheat speculator, died abroad in poverty. Richard Whitney, president of New York Stock Exchange, was sitting in Sing Sing prison. Albert Fall, a member of the President’s cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.
“Famous people before the public live an imagined life in the thought of others, and flourish or feel faint as their self outside themselves grows bright or dwindles in that mirror,” Logan Pearsall Smith reminded.