My life, my entire existence, comes down to a check mark. Nothing more, nothing less. Whether through the endless, unavoidable over-analyzation or the taking of psilocybin mushrooms, I feel like I ‘get’ life. I feel like I have a leg up on most. Lately I fully appreciate this world and its little details in a way usually only reserved for people who have been through a near death experience. I ricochet back and forth between an overly goofy contentedness, falling into ecstasy over something as simple as a muffin on a break at work, and an untouchable placidity, often cloaking me in tranquility as I observe the California sky and its uncanny ability to not get old.
No man is poor who has friends and I have tons. Quality too, not just quantity. I’ve got crews on both coasts now, with one of them like a band of goddamn brothers, and the other my travel mates on this oddball pipe dream journey out here, a band of kids with flashlights, exploring the jungle. My parents consistently introduce my jaw to the floor with their love and support and I have friends who have helped me come to terms with the appropriate amount of gratitude I should have for being so lucky. My acceptance of said luckiness causes every pathetic excuse for a problem that shimmies my way seem like nothing as I sit back puzzled, gawking at the sheer mind-blowing consistency of how easy life takes it on me.
I’ve been in love, and though my own personal jury is still out on the nature of the experience, our species seems all too eager to praise this one particular addiction as actually being positive to feel, so, hey, more power to me there, too.
My purpose here is not braggadocio, but more an explanation of how fantastic life seems to already be without our main attraction: the dream (or the perversion of such, as we will get into).
That’s the reason why I’m out here, as far away as I can get from home while still being in the country, leaving family and friends lonely as I detachedly dance through the city of lights. But my dream has been tainted.
See, I’ve also experienced the best parts of life when it comes to the creative flip side. I do not need to achieve this goal to bathe in the joy of artistic creation, this is something that now comes to me every day. I have experienced the parent-like happiness that comes from birthing a new project into this world. I have experienced the unparalleled euphoria of performing on a stage and creating live magic in front of people. I’ve even learned the pleasure of working hard on something and carrying it through to completion.
These are the respectable aspects of what I say I want to do. These are the reasons that, in theory, a person should be doing these things. My reason is not respectable, but rather a disease that metaphorically eats away at me: famecancer.
That check mark. Have you achieved fame yet? No? Then no check mark, and throw all of the aforementioned gorgeousness into the trash, because a sense of peace and completion will not come without the fame. And no, it’s not about fame proving that I could make it in this crazy game, or justifying and validating my talent, or being the end result of following through with a passionate long shot of a pursuit.
It’s just that moment of being the It Boy on the scene and breaking through into a household name. Who’s more successful, a virtuoso violinist who’s practiced their entire life, and can amaze people to tears at concert after concert or The Situation? The Situation. Because he became a household name. He broke through into pop culture, and had his moment in that world. BAM. THERE’S the fucking definition I’ve been looking for, and the explanation of why that notoriously ugly word, ‘cancer’, is stuck there at the end of it.
As someone who already caresses reclusion with the gentle nature of prison rape, you’d think my ever growing findings that point towards fame being the most horrible burden ever would put me off of this pursuit, happily chasing the life of a fulfilled although possibly unknown performer. But alas, I cannot. Fame is the drug that I never got to taste, the one substance that would seem to make acid, coke, ecstasy, mushrooms and any other recreational drug fall to their knees in awe of its intensity. The curiosity twists a knife in my feline intestines.
It’s nice (and true) to say that I was put on this Earth to be an entertainer. But the famecancer bends that philosophy like pretzel dough, perhaps making the correlation between successful entertainer and fame as an inevitable side effect, and tells me that I was put here to be a star. I mean, I’ve already proven that I can destroy a stage whether it be with comedy or with rap and write, whether it be a novel or screenplay. My talent is evident. I’M ALREADY THE PERSON I FANTASIZE ABOUT BEING. The famecancer tells me it’s the OTHER people who need to be convinced.
And so I’m forced to think of poor little Jesus, sent down to this planet for the specific purpose of being a sacrificial lamb, led down a path that everyone knew would end horribly as it was already written that way. ‘Do you think Jesus WANTED to get crucified?!’ This is the logic the famecancer instills in me after I balk at the environment of a party for the thousandth time and ache to run screaming into a life of introversion, doubting how someone like me could ever, should ever, chase a life as crazy and extroverted as that of a famous person.
So all those good things don’t really matter. They just confuse me, filling me with what seems to be true happiness and the realization of everything this life is about, enlightening me, making it twice as hard to feel the subtle throb that tells me I need to be a huge star. Until that happens, there will be no true peace. That little bell will always ring in the back of my mind, indicating a purpose, a life, not fulfilled. And when that beast finally comes and I can say I’ve truly ridden the fame roller coaster, will I gleefully head for the hills, happy to have it over with, finally free of the curse like the end of some Disney movie? Or will I let my human side win, become enamored with it, and struggle to maintain it for years to come?
I don’t know. All I know is that I’m out here, wandering around, learning, learning, learning, but mostly, looking for that motherfucking check mark. That horrible disease where the one and only chemotherapy is touching the stove for yourself, and finally feeling that deep burn, that singe of flesh that you knew would hurt so bad, that they TOLD you would hurt so bad, but now you can rest, as you know for yourself…