Monday, May 10, 2010

Someplace In Between

Neon rainbow

I think I know why I'm not a fan (gasp) of American Idol. It's the idea that a person can start at the top and essentially circumvent paying their dues by playing in the bars and chasing that neon rainbow. This is not to say there's no scratching and clawing, grasping and holding onto what remains of one's self-esteem in the process of competing, because there is. What comes about the other way, however, is growth. I'm fond of growth. Growth is a good thing and short cuts to obtain it, like taking anabolic steroids to build muscle, usually have unpleasant side effects.

For one thing, starting at the top doesn't leave a person anywhere to go but down. Down isn't always bad, but I've been there and I'll tell you a secret: up is better. Even if you're on the way up, it's still better than being down, because at least you've got direction.

For another, starting at the top has no memory associated with it. One minute you're nobody and the next you're a household word and all you can say about how you achieved it is, "I won American Idol." It's like the lottery. We'd all like to win, but many who have, have also gone broke. Climbing up the hard way brings with it the reminder of all that we learned in the process. What to avoid, who to trust, and what it's like to be at the bottom.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure some competitors have stories that would curl my hair and I don't begrudge anyone giving it all they've got. The gal or guy who was laughed at when they announced they were trying out deserves every break they can get. There are definitely different ways of paying one's dues and putting up with doubt and ridicule are among the hardest. The important thing is to keep them current and not forget what it cost to get where we are, because that's how we remain human. And remaining human is the most important thing, whether we're at the top, the bottom, or someplace in between.

Creative Commons image by mag3737 via Flickr; Chasin' That Neon Rainbow words and music by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride, copyright 1995, WB Music Corp.)
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