4

Fame & Fortune

 

Society’s fascination with Hollywood and celebrities has gone a little crazy.

 

Millions idolize those who have achieved fame and fortune, yet stardom does not provide the satisfaction it advertises.

 

Marilyn Monroe could have told us that. So could Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.

 

Consider the adoration accorded to Mohammed Ali in his prime.

 

He was known as ‘the prize fighter who couldn’t be beaten’. His picture appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated more than any other athlete in history. Wherever he went the cameras followed.

 

But wealth and fame cannot buy good health, and he fell victim to the ravages of Parkinson’s disease.

 

Sportswriter Gary Smith spent some time with the ailing fighter at his home and asked to see his trophy room.

 

Ali escorted him to a dark, damp barn beside his house. There, leaning against a wall was a board displaying mementoes – photos of the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, pictures of Ali dancing and punching, and hoisting championship belts he had won over his head.

 

But the pictures were smeared with white streaks caused by pigeons that had made their home in the rafters.

 

Ali picked up the board and turned it around, face to the wall. Then as he started to leave, Smith heard him mumble… ‘I had the whole world, and it wasn’t nuthin’.

Look at me now’

Dying

 

Poet Henry van Dyke put it like this: ‘I am standing upon the seashore. A ship … spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

 

She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch until … she hangs like a speck of white cloud where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

 

Then someone at my side says, “She’s gone!” “Gone where?” Gone from my sight. That’s all.

 

She’s just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left …

 

Her diminished size is in me, not her.

 

And just at the moment when someone says, “There, she’s gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the joyful shout, “Here she comes!”

 

And that is dying.’

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