Thursday 20 Oct 2016

American Idles
M Adam Roberts

Only those who dare to dream can make a dream come true.

Steven Tyler - American Idol

At the conclusion of the show, wrapping up the semi-final round of American Idol season 11, contestant Judge Steven Tyler, of the band Aerosmith, was asked for his final comments and words of advice for the final three singers remaining. He ended the show by saying this. "Only those who dare to dream can make a dream come true. You three are all amazing and you're out here doing just that! You're chasing your dream and you're making it happen, and I think that's really cool! This competition is not easy. Congratulations on having the courage to go through it. You're already winners regardless of the outcome of this show."

You will have a hard time finding anyone who is a greater fan of the American Idol show than myself. It's not so much the show that I am a fan of, but the competition amongst its contestants. I love to watch people stretch themselves into greatness. I love watching people overcome their fears, forcing themselves to become the very best they can be.

Can you imagine the courage that it takes to put yourself out there, in front of all America, up against some of the greatest talents in the world, and sing your heart out for the whole nation to judge? Can you imagine the pressure and the stress of having to prepare for the coming week of competition, knowing the tremendous talents you will be coming up against wondering if they are going to leave you standing out there, in front of the whole world, looking like a total amateur? Can you imagine how frightening it must be to finally conclude your song, and then have the spotlight shined on you as you stand there, motionless, waiting for the judges, and America, to tell you what they thought of your performance? And can you imagine having the courage and the confidence to do that at the ripe old age of 16?

In order to ever have a chance of reaching the semi finals of the competition. let alone becoming the winner of American Idol, one must first make the commitment to go to the auditions, which in themselves must be a terrifying experience. Often times the auditions are far away from where one might live, and one must go through great means just to get him or herself there. They have to be willing to give up their jobs, leave their homes and families, and follow their dream wherever it might take them. But some are willing to do it. Some have to do it 

When I was a young man, at the age of 18, I once told my grandmother that I wanted to become a preacher. I thought this was something she would be very pleased to hear me say being the very religious woman that she was. To my surprise, she hesitated for a minute and then said, "That's a grand thing to aspire to be, young man, but are you called to do it? Many people set out to do things in life they believe would be great things to do, but they're actually not called to do it. Every person needs to find that one thing they were sent here to do and then they will find their true place of success.

I asked, "Grandma, how does a person know whether they are called to do something or not?" She answered, "If you are called to do something, you will be miserable to your soul until you do it. It will not let you rest until you answer its calling. Everything else you try to do will leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied."

I believe that every living soul has a very specific talent, a calling, if you will, that demands our attention. I believe, as my grandmother said, as long as we ignore it, we will never really find any true happiness or contentment in our lives.

I am frustrated with myself for allowing my own life to become fearful and lazy over the years. I am displeased that I have not made my own dreams come true yet. I should've had the determination and courage to pursue them years ago, but I didn't. I allowed fear, and indecision, and inconvenience, and a hundred other things keep me from making them a reality.

I wake up in the morning and I'm immediately aware of all the things I should work on today to make my life more of what I dream it could be. But I don't do them. Like a robot programmed to perform certain functions, I carry out my day just like I've done thousands of days before. Nothing special. Nothing all that challenging. Nothing very exciting or adventuresome. Just every day functions, trying to survive another week; another month; another year.

At the end of my work day, I rush home to watch the latest episode of American Idol, or The Voice, or one of many other shows and events that are televised for our viewing entertainment. I sit there in tears as I watch these other courageous people stretch their talents and their lives into levels of greatness. I cast my votes for them. I often times think about them all day as I go about my mediocre life, hoping that my favorites will win. 

Season 11 of American Idol will end next week. It's come down to the final two contestants, Jessica Sanchez, a sixteen year old Filipino girl who has trained her whole life to do nothing else but sing, and Phillip Phillips, a young man who worked at his father's pawn shop in a small town in the State of Georgia, before finally deciding to go after his dream of becoming an American Idol.

Here stands two ordinary people who have overcome incredible odds in pursuit of their dreams. At last count, over 90 million votes came in from all over America showing love and support for these two individuals. They have poured out their hearts and given their all for us, and they've touched our lives with their talent and courage to share it with the world.

I dread seeing season 11 end because then what am I going to do with myself? What will there be to rush home to? Only my own life and the unfulfilled potentials of it. Now I'm going to have to take another good, long look at myself and ask, "What are you going to do today? Why aren't you stretching your own life into levels of greatness like those you so much admire on American Idol? Why are you choosing to be fearful? Why are you being lazy? Why are you not answering your calling?"

As long as the show goes on I can look forward to watching others go after their dreams and I can cheer them all the way to the finish line. But when the curtain goes down, and the show is over, all that is left is the reality of my own life and what I'm making of it.

I have a pretty good life and I'm thankful for all that I do have, but I know I haven't even touched the surface of the talents that lie within me begging for me to release them from captivity. I feel guilty for keeping them locked up all these years. What a shame for ones life to pass without ever realizing all that it was intended to be. The thought of that bothers me deeply. I need to do something about it, or else, like my grandmother said, I will be miserable to my soul until I do.

What about you?

M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.

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