I’ve been a big fan of the Oscars ever since high school. My senior year English teacher, Ms. Sparks, was one of those once-in-a-lifetime teachers who changed everything for me. After knowing her, I was never the same. To this day I think of her often, and am reminded of the countless ways she opened the world to me.
Here’s one of them: Before I knew her I didn’t much care about the Academy Awards. But I’ve never forgotten what she told my class that year. She said she watches the awards every year because without fail, someone always says something profound, something meaningful.
As a lover of words and a seeker of Truth, I am always in the market for profound. So I started tuning in.
She was right; at least once during the show every year, I find myself madly scribbling something down.
Over the years, I think the show has changed quite a bit; it seems there’s more emphasis now on the dresses and the hair and the superficial things. Or maybe the emphasis was always there and in my youth I didn’t notice.
I notice it now—so much so that in the last few years I can hardly stand to watch. It’s an example of what doesn’t make America so great. It places too much emphasis on things that don’t really matter.
It’s a show that celebrates millionaires for sometimes not actually doing great work and often, the best picture nominees aren’t the “best.”
It celebrates the surface level in all things and can bring out the worst in us. The red carpet alone, where we sit and judge people solely on their outer appearance —whew! It’s enough to make this yogi turn that shit off.
But I don’t. I still watch—every single year.
Because Ms. Sparks was right—there’s always at least one moment that matters. There’s one moment where I tear up, or get goosebumps or feel the big YES.
The big YES is the thing that resonates with my own truth. It confirms it. It validates it.
It’s the thing that reminds me that we’re all connected, and that deep inside (though let’s face it, sometimes it’s a bit deeper for others) we’re all the same, and we all want the same things: to be loved, to be safe, to be happy, to have our dreams come true.
At its core, the Oscars is a show about people who achieved their dream. Granted, some probably didn’t work that hard, and sometimes it’s just good timing, the right role or the right look.
Are there better examples of people who achieved their dreams? Yes.
But the real moments—the ones that make the hair on my arms stand up—they are something true, and something true is what I’m seeking.
And on these particular Sundays, I’m lucky enough to witness that moment in someone’s life.
I’m thinking Roberto Benigni and Cuba Gooding Jr. kind of moments. Pure, uninhibited, all-consuming elation.
Seriously, how often in life do we get to feel that? Not enough, right?
When the moment is genuine, it’s a reminder that it is possible to have crazy, wild, unattainable dreams—and then attain them.
It’s a reminder that hard work pays off, and that half of the battle is having the courage to want what we want. The other half is going for it.
Sometime around those high school years I found the following quote in a magazine. It was an ad for something I’ve long since forgotten, but I’ve always found its message rings true. And ultimately, its why I watch the awards every year:
“When we look at a statue of someone great, we think they’ve got something we don’t.We are trained to think that only a tiny percentage of us have the stuff it takes to be a hero. Not many of us will cure any diseases or slay any dragons, but every single one of us, every single one of us, is called to be a king, a queen, a hero in our ordinary lives. We don’t build statues to worship the exceptional life, we build them to remind ourselves what is possible in our own.”
And so it is with the Academy Awards, or whatever it is that inspires you to be better. It doesn’t matter what it is—seeing someone achieve their dream is a good reminder that we can do it too. It really is possible.
So go get it.
Bonus: some of my favorite Oscar quotes:
“If you grow up in the suburbs of anywhere, a dream like this seems kind of vaguely ludicrous and completely unattainable. [But] this moment is directly connected to those imaginings. And for anybody who’s on the downside of advantage, and relying purely on courage, it’s possible.” ~ Russell Crowe
“I’m eventually trying to one day tell the truth. I don’t know if I’m ever gonna get there. But, I’m slowing letting pieces of myself out there. And then maybe by the time I’m 85 I’ll look back and say alright, that about sums it up.” ~ Adam Sandler
“First I’m going to thank Don because when you thank your husband at the end of the speech they play him out with the music and I want him to know that everything I value most in our lives you’ve given me…” ~ Meryl Streep
“Make art. Make art.” ~ Glen Hansard
“The way I watch movies, I’m really searching for myself, because I don’t get to see enough of myself and I don’t—I kind of don’t get to like myself enough. But if I get to see myself on screen, then I know that I exist.” ~ Gabourey Sidibe
“This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we’re standing here tonight, the fact that we’re able to hold this, it’s just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it’s possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don’t give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along way. Thank you.” ~ Marketa Irglova
Originally published on elephant journal.