If Andrew McCarthy and I were to actually be in a room together, meet, and have one conversation, I am sure we would get married, or so thought fourteen-year-old me after seeing ‘Heaven Help Us’ and ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ within a few months of each other. I saw something of myself in those performances and identified with him so strongly, I thought surely we were the same. It was dumb kid stuff, the reason for the huge teen celebrity industry that takes advantage of idealistic young girls with hearts forever bleeding on their sleeves. Thankfully, McCarthy played such an unlikeable character in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (I will forever be Team Duckie), and in every movie he was in from that point forward, that his picture spent very little time on my wall.
But this idea, that we can know someone’s heart by their art or work, and find ourselves in it, has a kernel of truth that is real and solid and which, you might argue, is the very reason for the production of all music, writing, art, or film. Artists want to lay bare the human condition, or some angle of it, in a true way, and people want to find themselves, or clarify their true nature, in it. Often, I don’t know I believe something until I read it, or write it, or hear it, or sing it, and only then does it make its way from my soul to my brain. At times like this, I find myself nodding in agreement, sometimes literally, and feel a connection with a person or an idea that is undeniable. There are people who are creating art today, strangers to me except for their work, who would have to be invited to my dream dinner party. I kind of think they would all get along, too, sharing similar pools of ideas and modes of expression. This hunch is based not on a character someone portrays, in fact, no actors would be invited to my DDP, but on the like-minded nature of the ideas they put forth, their often quirky but heartfelt perspectives, and how they express them. In a venn diagram of souls, I feel like ours intersect, or at least their work or attitude or presence has become a part of my own spirit in a real, unshakeable way. Coming across a person like that, or across something that speaks to me so strongly, feels like coming home.
That’s a pretty amazing and rare gift, and I can only dream that something I’ve sung, written, or taught has become part of another person in that way. In the scheme of things, that’s about as big as it gets. We lend pieces of ourselves to each other, encouraging and adding color and shape until we are each better version of ourselves. I don’t believe this process ever stops, nor is it limited to ‘artists’ or celebrities in any way. My soul knows when it intersects with another, like-hearted one. It’s rare, but ordinary magic, how we are designed to function and fit and move each other along.
So who would be invited to my DDP? I can list* my celebrity types, but I bet the rest of you know who you are. From the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you for that.
*Elizabeth Gilbert, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kelly Corrigan, Paul F. Tompkins, Alex Guarnaschelli, Jen Hatmaker, C.S. Lewis, Audrey Assad, Lori McKenna, and if I could invite works without their creators, ‘Once’ and ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ They would liven up the party some for sure, with the Czech/Irish music and all the CAPITAL LETTERS.