Fame Is a Vapor, Popularity an Accident, and Riches Take Wings

Fame is an ethereal and ephemeral drug.

Its intangible power attracts tangible — and toxic — “gifts,” from pills and powders to prostitutes and acts of prostitution for recognition.

It poisons your mind, and ravages your body as it ruins your soul.

It is a temporary high with almost inconceivable lows, alienating friends and loved ones; putting your parents on a permanent death watch, forcing them to prepare themselves for the call — the one from the coroner or pathologist, or the police officer or emergency room physician — that begins with six words of regret and finality, “I am sorry for your loss.”

I know what fame is.

I much prefer to be — indeed, I am — happy and healthy.

To those who covet fame, I have this response: Look at how the famous use their fame.

They, the delusional and dictatorial possessors of this intoxicant, exercise their fame for petty purposes and ridiculous ends — to get a choice table at a restaurant, to have hoteliers comp their fees, to order bodyguards to assault or intimidate fans, and to break the law by flaunting the rules.

Let me show you the real heroes and heroines: The surgeons who saved me, the healers who nursed me, the mother and father who hugged me, the believers who never lost faith in me and the God who never forsook me.

Today is precious.

It is a day for remembrance and forgiveness.

It is a day for hope and resilience.

It is a great day not to be famous.