So I don’t know how it works for people who weren’t raised in my Facebook generation, but I am always getting about a million invites to various things, including those auditorium style events where they bring in a well-known speaker whose talk is generated around their extremely generic and inoffensive life advice with the intent of getting you PUMPED about something.
And while there are some speakers I would love to hear, I feel that the introductions always leave something to be desired. The speakers are essentially selling themselves as if they were a product, for example, “come see this award winning, Harvard educated, Olympic silver medalist, gourmet chef, accomplished author, activist, humanitarian, radio-broadcasting, home-schooling mother of 8 who shares her tips on balancing family and career. Act now and enter for your chance to win a free copy of her new book. Lunch is provided.”
It’s a lot to digest (pun intended) because it places these successful people on pedestals
and tries to claim that the pedestal version is the reality. In fact, that lie/intentional misperception for the purposes of marketing is often meant as the very basis to draw in the crowd, “come see this winner who wins constantly and learn how you can be a winner too.” And because we live in a world that makes success the condition for love people flock to these corny messages in spades. I’ve had honest conversations with intelligent people who come away from these events full of motivation and inspired to “take charge” of their lives. Whatever that means…
I have trouble with these types of events, partially because I subscribe wholeheartedly to Divine love which is unconditional, and partially because I’m a nerdy hipster who can’t allow myself to like anything so mainstream and group-y as a popular speaker. I’m sure that comes across in this blog.
However, my distaste for these things also comes from the fact that I know that there is so much more to be found and shared than the trite life advice of these smug and successful speakers, because back in the day when I used to listen to these types I’d be inspired and/or peaceful for maybe half a second and then I would need more, the restlessness would always come back. But as I pursued a growing faith and sought a deeper bond with God I knew I’d found the way home because I finally stopped searching for satisfaction in other places, as there was no longer a need to. And I would never speak about these experiences by selling myself as a product or brand to happy/balanced/peaceful (insert any buzzword you like) living, because the way I truly believe that goal is accomplished is not my way, it certainly was not my genius that invented it, and it is not just a natural result of good habits, but rather a way that existed long before me and will probably exist long after me and finding any piece of it is truly a gift. A gift I got because I asked for it and God is generous. A gift that anyone can have if they humble themselves for long enough to ask, I only wished more people believed me instead of wasting their money on people arrogant enough to want to inspire the world to become more like themselves.
I controversially chose to remain Catholic in a world hostile to religion not just because I’m edgy and cool like that, but because to me it is the way, the truth, and the life. I firmly believe it and the more I walk down the way, discover the truth, and live the life the more convicted (and more joyful) I am. To share this way is an act of love because I don’t want you to become more like me, in fact that thought is rather frightening, but I do hope you discover everything I have found there and more. And these cheesy speakers with their “transferable” tips from their successful business ventures to your life or their 3 secrets to achieving 10 times more than you (a mere average person) are such a shallow imitation and waste of human energy because often the purpose is to get you to conform to be someone that the world loves in order to gain the love of the world. I would recommend rejecting a love so fickle as that.
Because here’s the thing, every speaker regardless of popularity or topic has one thing in common. They are going to die. They can’t take their many achievements with them and I don’t buy into the lie perpetuated by many of my fawning English professors that notoriety after death is somehow a comfort and/or affirmation to them. I think it’s just a band-aid used to soften the fact that the reality of death scares a lot of people. However, it doesn’t scare me.
Because I’m not looking to achieve, I’m not looking to be better than the person sitting next to me, and I’m not looking to impress by my life or my legacy. I’ve been looking to love and be loved and the road to real love is not temporal or subject to change. It is instead an infinite and eternal gift which eliminates my fear of death, or even my fear of “failure” while alive, because I know that this love is Divine, both perfect and redemptive, and the only real thing to ever fear would be living my life in such a way as to not recognize it when it calls or worse, rejecting it when it is offered because I listened to one too many crappy speakers and believed the lie that the only type of love worth having is the love that I deserve.