Rite of Passage Sixteen –A Little Larger Than Life–
1960 I am twenty-six years old
Q. Have you attempted something that was way beyond your experience? How did it feel at the time?
Let me assume, just for a moment, that you know who I am…sort of? That I used to have a popular international television show that went worldwide that eventually morphed into a total of 1,800 episodes over a forty-six year period.
If so…then you may be interested in the very first time I stepped on a television set?
Beginning on page 99-103* of my book “Flash of Silver” is the hilarious experience!
What I want to deal with here is how it felt to be so far out of my depth.
Imagine with me, please, that you are standing (with me) on the banks of a swiftly flowing ‘whitewater’ river. In front of us is a known crossing of what looks like secure stepping stones that have been used by others passing this way.
I decide to give it a go, largely because I want…strongly to get to the other side. You are less certain about the need, in fact you are quite happy on this bank.
By making the attempt I have to engage in the risk of a less secure footing and an unpleasant dunking in ice-cold water.
I also face the real possibility that you and I may, if I’m successful, be parting company.
That’s how it felt for me on that ‘first day’ on television.
I knew enough about what it could mean–both in risk and possible reward but beyond either, it would mean leaving others behind. Of all the downsides that come with a public persona I believe that loss is the most profound!
So, what about now?
To be a ‘privileged’ person means that one gets to do things that many people cannot do, or at least would find extremely difficult. It is a privilege to be ‘set apart’ on the public media especially over a forty-six year period.
The term Celebrity Chef was unknown when I started in 1960 and yet others had crossed the media torrent before me and gone on into that uncharted territory…so I knew it could be done by…me?
As you read on through my life you will find out how it was possible for me to have kept my balance on those early ‘slippery’ rocks. I needed so much help!
What remained for me to understand was the degree that the so-called ‘celebrity’ status can become such a distance between the banks; at times providing an impassable barrier between old friends and even loved ones and parents.
There is, at first, a compensation…of a kind, in the attention I received from the viewing audience. I became known for what I did…not for who I was.
Eventually that is a lonely place.
The far bank is a kind of emotional gated community of those who have also risked…and left so many behind.
A few years ago I made my way back over those same stones and I am becoming reunited with those I loved and left behind. It’s so good to be home again!
This week I read Treena’s poem Once Upon A Tree