I was walking down our tree lined street yesterday when a boy popped his head out of a car window parked in his driveway.
“Hi!” he yelled.
“Hi!” I yelled back. “What cha doin?”
“Washing my car,” he said.
“Oh, don’t mind him,” his father chimed in. “He is only three and doesn’t have a filter yet.”
“I hope he never gets a filter,” I shouted back.
Kids who don’t have filters make connections. I’m always on the lookout for kids calling out to me across the street or anywhere – asking me to push them on a tire swing, examine a bug, put up a Halloween decoration – as it happens often – up to the age of about six. Then the filter veils over their natural, unencumbered exuberance, and inhibits their instinct to connect.
What I loved about the movie, A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper was their lack of filters.
They sang apart and together unselfconsciously with abandon, grabbing the mic, swaying with the music and deeply connecting with their audience through their song stories, their voices, their longing.
Cooper, who directed the film, let the camera linger on their eyes and lips and faces. So rare now in our speeded up world of fast cuts, flashy scenes, over the top emotions, tell it quick before we lose’ em, mentality.
What is so often lost is these pure moments of “sexy listening.” A term my sweetie coined when describing how I “lured” him into our relationship by hanging on his every word in rapt attention. A Star is Born is made up of an entire movie of “sexy listening.”
What deeply saddened me is what happened in the transformation of Ally from a singer in a Drag Queen bar into a star…. In the process the filter of fame ruined the essence of what made her touch us in the first place.
Which brings me to some thoughts about fame…
Please don’t tell me you want to be famous.
Instead tell me what you are doing to make things better millions of people — or one person — on this planet.
Or how you’re going to bring joy in some small or big way to someone who needs it.
Don’t let anyone commercialize your talent. Don’t let them spiff, glam, or beef it up.
Don’t take something beautiful and pure and add sequins or shine to it.
Let it be.
Stay true to your self.
Keep the essence, lose the glitz.
Tell true stories. Connect. Let go of adornments.
Touch people with how you’re scared, weak and paralyzed.
But also show them that there is hope and how you’ve come through your pain or poverty and arrived at who you are today, whole, but cracked, so others can get in and feel who you are at the core, no matter how much you’ve glazed your pot.
Stay in touch with the thing that made you come alive in the first place. Music, art, words, sports, science, coding, people, whatever your jam is, feed it everyday. Listen to where it leads you next little by little.
It is your compass and will not send you astray even if it looks like the direction you’re going is taking you nowhere fast.
Don’t worship speed as your god.
Instead breathe in the molecules of today one by one. Each molecule was once inhaled and exhaled by someone you love from history, or yesterday or today. Or someone you hate. Breathe them in too for this will make you stronger even as you resist it. And you will soften in the places where the world has made you hard.
Remember your roots. Where you came from is important. It feeds who you are today.
Practice kindness. I’m going to say this again as we have strayed so far away from being kind. Find ways to do or say something kind every day. Even in the midst of your anger and frustration. Even when you can’t find an example to follow. Although there are many. Find them.
Gaze inside and follow your own heart as it’s made of kindness, first and foremost.
If you’ve forgotten just look into the face of your own child. Their kindness came from you. Look into the face of any child. It is all there. And it came from us. All of us. No filters.
Back to Lady Gaga and being unfiltered for a moment. I watched her on Stephen Colbert when he asked her what she would be doing if she wasn’t singing and acting. She said she’d still be singing in bars – because that’s what she loves to do. Sing. I believe her. She wasn’t just acting with Bradley Cooper in a Star is Born, she was there, 100% of her, sexy listening, sexy being, undistracted, whole.
Would you still be doing what you’re doing if it didn’t have the promise of fame or acclaim?
I hope so.
For the sake of all of us.