Perhaps it's because I, like Susan Boyle--the Scottish singing sensation from 'Britain's Got Talent' who is burning up the Internet right now--am unemployed and have more time on my hands than usual, compounded by the fact that I've been confined to my apartment for the past two days due to a bad flu, but I've watched the youtube clip of Susan's performance about five times now, and each time been in awe and admiration of this woman.
Why do I love Susan Boyle? And more importantly, why do millions of people across the world love her so much? It's not that different of an answer than I would give if you asked me why reality television has become popular, not just in the U.S. but elsewhere. People can relate to Susan Boyle, and all the other contestants on reality game shows and the like. What makes Susan Boyle so special is that she is 'more real' and therefore more relatable than many other reality show types, who probably work out for days or do their hair special or make extra efforts to look 'better' for the cameras, and Susan is a real 'come as you are type'. Mark Goulston, on the Huffington Post, gives his opinion of the Susan phenomenon here.
Also, we love Susan because she confounds our very narrow and messed-up stereotypes of what talented people should look, act and live like. Her life, from the little we know about it, has been anything but dramatic or glamorous. It's been quite a normal, if not a little sad ("never been kissed") life, during which she's lived in a village with her parents the whole time, has never been married, and cared for here mother before she died a few years back. Susan, by all intents and purposes, is not what we think of when we think of 'star potential' or talent.
But the reality is that--and I think we all know this deep down inside--there are many, many thousands of if not hundreds of thousands of people out there who are just as talented (if not moreso) as Susan, but who are stuck in the drudgery of everyday life, because of where and to what strata of society they were born, because of shyness or lack of opportunity, or because they've been told that they are NOT talented by others who are bitter and jealous or what-have-you.
I love Susan Boyle because she so clearly loves to sing, loves to do the thing that she has not been able to do for her livelihood, but as a 'hobby' or something to do for fun. And, lucky for her she's really good at it! It's always beautiful to see someone who is so present when they do something, who loves what they are doing and are good and it and can move and inspire others when they are doing it. I feel the same when I watch my husband DJ or when I watch amazing dancers on stage or when I see a good public speaker. These are people using the gifts that the Creator gave them to create good in the world, and people respond to that.
I've been thinking a lot about my own life purpose lately, not feeling like much of a writer or anything else since I've stopped working and have been taking a break from a lot of things. I know that I'll get back into the thick of things soon enough, and that this time of rest is important and productive and necessary in its own way. But seeing Susan Boyle sing has inspired me to not give up on my own dreams, or at least not give up on trying to figure out what they are.
Susan is the epitome of the rags-to-riches tale, despite the fact that she's not yet 'hit it big'. It always amazes me how quickly and brightly someone's star can rise on the international stage, only to fall into obscurity not long afterwards. Fifteen minutes indeed. But I think there's something, dare I say it, in the stars and in the cosmos right now that makes all of us human beings long for more Susan Boyles, to long for our life's purpose. I hope her performance inspires other people to pursue their dreams, no matter how silly or impractical as they may seem.