That was the question for Table Topics at our Toastmasters meeting this afternoon. (Table Topics are an exercise in impromptu speaking. The Topicsmaster selects a topic ahead of time, then each member has the opportunity to speak for one minute. This is intended to help members “think on their feet.”) It was a good topic choice, as more people chose to speak than is typical for the Table Topics segment of our meetings.
I learned some things I hadn’t known about my co-workers. I might have guessed that J.M. would like to be famous as a musician, since his second speech was on playing the guitar, but I had no idea D.G. would like to be a missionary. I couldn’t even figure out at first why M.G. would like to be famous for her clothesline – then she explained she would like to design clothes. Oh! Clothes line.
I exlained that if I were to be famous, I would want it to be for writing a book. I’ve been told I write well, but writing a good book requires more than just good writing skills – it requires good ideas, believable characters and storylines, and true-to-life dialogue. I’ve been working on an idea in my head for several years now, and written down pieces of ideas for characters, outline, and brief snippets of narrative, but mostly it just rattles around in my head.
When I was little, I imagined being famous for some kind of heroic rescue. As I got older I realized that, with my very cautious nature, I’m not likely to get myself in situations where heroic rescues are needed. And if I did find myself in one, I hope I could risk my life to save another, but I’m honestly not sure just how far I could push myself into something like gunfire or open flames.
For a time, when I was trying to be a teacher, I imagined actually getting so good at it that I would become well-known for how well I could capture students’ interest, explain things in terms they understood, and motivate them to explore the subject further. In reality, I struggled just to get them to listen quietly enough to get through at least part of a lesson. That dream withered quickly.
Today I have no particular interest in fame. I aspire to be a good wife and mother, and fame rarely follows from that accomplishment. Moreover, fame often interferes with good family relationships – it’s certainly possible to be famous and a good wife and mother (or husband and father), but it adds another set of challenges to an already challenging role.
Still, I can imagine other things that I wouldn’t mind being famous for. I enjoy photography, and I’ve daydreamed about just happening to have my camera handy when something spectacular happened, and capturing an arresting image for all the world to see. I wouldn’t push my sons to try to become famous, but if it should happen I certainly wouldn’t mind being known as their mother – assuming they achieved fame for something honorable.
There are of course some things that I wouldn’t want to be famous for. I would never like to be part of a high profile court case, whether as plaitiff, defendant, victim, witness, or relative to any of those. While my husband would like to win the lottery (though he very rarely plays), I would feel very uncomfortable about having acquired a large sum of money through what is essentially gambling, knowing how so many people have ruined themselves or their familes through gambling. (I certainly wouldn’t mind getting a large sum of money, but I would much rather it was through picking up some priceless objet d’art at a flea market – a highly unlikely prospect, but then so is winning the lottery.)
I would not like to be famous for my looks, either in a positive or negative sense. However, I am average enough looking that I hardly need to worry about that possibility. Nor is there any likelihood I would ever become famous for anything athletic or requiring much more than a minimum of physical coordiation. And I would certainly not want to be famous for doing the sort of ridiculous things some people do to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.
I wouldn’t mind being famous someday for good physical and mental health well past the age when it usually declines – though I’m afraid I don’t put enough effort into maintaining the physical side of it. And if I ever do write a book and it sells, then perhaps another – well, I wouldn’t mind being known as a prolific octegenarian, for instance.
What would you want to be famous for, if you could? Or what wouldn’t you want to be famous for?