Sum of a Life

     I saw today an interview with Steven Spielberg. I am not one drawn to the famous simply because they are famous, but Spielberg has been a part of many incredible creations in his lifetime. I think few would argue that he is a master of his craft. I do not expect anyone will ever forget the girl in the red coat. If you have seen her, you know what I am talking about. If not, you need to see Schindler's List.
     However, there was one thing he said during the interview that keeps getting replayed in my mind. The question was, "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you get there?" He took a brief moment to consider this and quietly replied, "Thanks for listening."

     Thanks for listening.

     There is so much in that idea... such a resonance. I think what creates an artist is their desire to communicate. I think all artists have something inside that they wish to show to the world. There are many people who do not that still create. You see them in the top forty, in movies, on television, in book of the month clubs. Others may even believe these people are artists, but their "art" is essentially empty. It doesn't say anything. The question is where does this message come from?
     Occasionally it may seem obvious, such as with true-life stories. It may be a therapy for dealing with events. But with the great artists, they often have so many messages, so many things to say that most people never have time to imagine without their aid. And many artists go their entire lives not knowing if their message has ever truly reached anyone. I cannot imagine anything greater for an artist to receive the kind of validation such a statement would bring. And I do not believe it is anything to do with pride. I do not think it is about being able to say, "See, I was right!" It is about knowing that a task was fulfilled; knowing that a purpose was served. Because, to an artist, it often seems everything is futile.

     In another vein, I was watching the Muppet Christmas Carol today. I grew up with the Muppets and have always loved them. Their characters are very rich, and I have heard more than one actor remark that you soon forget they are anything but real when working with them. I was also introduced to A Christmas Carol at a very young age, and have always tried to take to heart the messages contained within it. I was hesitant though when I first heard, years ago now, that the Muppets were doing this particular story. In the end I was pleased, of course. I was not sure how they could be faithful to both concepts, but somehow they were.
     There is, however, one thing that has always bothered me. The final song contains the line: If you need to know the measure of a man / you simply count his friends. And I am not certain that is any better a way to judge a person than any other way. Being a great man does not always make one popular. I am not certain I have any better way to judge a person, but then I am not certain I think we have any right to judge anybody. I do know I do not want my children to believe that having more friends somehow makes them better.

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