MacLaine, Shirley - The pointlessness of competing, the importance of love
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Out on a Limb – Shirley MacLaine
There I was. . . standing out on the balcony of yet another hotel room overlooking the lilting, lulling Pacific, the red sun nestling on the water. . . waiting. Waiting for a man. Waiting for a man I loved or thought I loved, whatever that meant.
I knew that what I felt for him was powerful and I knew that I'd go anywhere I had to to be with him. We were both busy and had creative work to fill our lives, but I guess we needed more. I know I did. As long as I could remember, I needed to be in love. A man seemed the most obvious object of such a feeling and desire. But maybe not, maybe I just needed to feel love, and a deeper objective was what seemed to be eluding me. I don't know.
I told Gerry [Olof Palme] about the time I had gone to the big island of Hawaii once to be alone. I rented a little house on the Kona Coast and sat on the volcanic rocks for days thinking about competition, among other things.
I had been in Hollywood for-five years and the way good friends would fight each other for good parts was getting me down. I had just been nominated for another Academy Award and I didn't like the false pressure that the nomination seemed to burden me with either. I didn't like the feeling that winning a little brass statue should be more rewarding than doing good work.
It had confused me because everyone else thought it was what Hollywood was all about. But I didn’t see why anybody should win or lose. I didn't like how crestfallen people felt when they lost. And I hated how much money was spent trying to influence votes by giving parties and taking ads in the trade papers.
Gerry seemed interested in what I was saying but couldn't understand that I had genuinely not cared whether I won or not.
“Why didn’t you care?" he asked.
"I don’t know," I said, "but I didn't. And I don't care now. I think I didn't want to be embarrassed to win something that had no business being a contest in the first place. I wouldn't be depressed the way you say you are when you win-I would be embarrassed. You need, to win because that's how democracy and majority rule work and there's no other way to be a successful politician. But artists shouldn't be involved with that kind of competition. I think we should only be concerned with competing against the best we have in ourselves.”