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Observations placeholder

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.”

The source of the experience

MacLaine, Shirley

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Home schooling