Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Becoming Non-famous

 When I was a kid I was obsessed with the movies, believing nobody had as special a relationship to cinema as me, it was as intimate as my deepest soul, and that one day, when I grew up, I would assuredly be a movie star. I absolutely believed in this, as if it were a new religion and I was its chief acolyte. When nobody discovered me I overcame impossible obstacles and made my own movies, with me as the star. But still the world didn't pick up on my fabulousness and I was relegated to faceless Nobody-ville for the duration of my pathetic life. Of course I wanted the riches that came with the fame, I've always been a lazy sod and thought wealth would allow me to lay about, eating grapes and watching my favorite movies, preferably those with me in the leading role. Of course, we're all the lead stars of our own "movies in progress", but some of us can actually go mad hankering for stardom. (I call such fevered movie delusions celluloiditis and have met many sufferers.)

I even swore that if I was not rich and famous by the time I hit fifty I would either kill myself or rob a bank and flee overseas with the proceeds. But I ended up a big chicken, every day was a new adventure to be confronted and overcome, and the idea of prison so terrifying, with my wings of freedom clipped and cruel inmates crowding me in, I eschewed the life of the crim for that of the dreamer and wanker, wallowing in the gutter, staring at the heavens. And I went back to nursing, which I'd studied as a fall-back security job in my late teens, to which I'd promised myself I'd never return. Deep in the night I trundle about the nursing home corridors thinking about my failure, as if I had a flashlight on my non-career as an infamous "monstar", and then I roll over the corpse-like oldies and the life-long congenital vegetables to clean the shit from their adult nappies, the smell making me want to vomit relentlessly.

A man in the next bed has half his face missing, you can see up thru his decayed nose and eye-socket into his brain-case. He'd been brought into the nursing home from a life spent on the streets where he'd often fallen dead-drunk unconscious into the sludge and flotsam of back-alley gutters, his face in the rot to be rotted away. He kept aloof and never spoke, as if his 'phantom of the opera' mask had evicted him from the human race. He glared at me with his one eye, defying me to keep looking at the horror of his existence and I could only smile weakly and back away. (When he eventually went into the hard slide of dying I sat with him all night and he clasped my hand tightly, he needed human comfort after all.)

I heard a moaning noise from the next room and I went to investigate, switching on the light, my compassion aroused by the sight. Two women share the room, one is an eighty year old dementia sufferer, the other is her fifty year old Downes Syndrome daughter, together in the nursing home because neither can look after the other anymore. They looked quite similar, like doppelgangers of ancient crones, sitting up in their beds in unison, and both peered at me myopically, as if to say, "Who am I? Where am I? How did I get here?" I quietened them with soothing whispers and they both fell back beneath their sheets as I tiptoed from the room.

Where is my fame in all this? No accolades, gold statuettes and million dollar contracts. Just service to humanity, the little I can give. It must be my fate, my kismet, my sadhana. I can only crack a cryptic smile, in resignation; I guess I don't really mind, it's the WAY IT IS. It's always been a spiritual journey I've been on, it's good for my soul to be here, I should count my blessings to work and live in a futuristic city like Sydney, and be a sentient citizen of the 21st century. I'm a dharma bum and this is my dharma. Fame can go fuck itself.