On being real, even if you're famous like Heather Locklear, who I spent the weekend with (sort of)

Last weekend, I had a fabulous experience.
An “aha moment”, as they call it at the incredible Miraval Resort and Spa where we were staying in Tucson, Arizona. (More about the resort in another post.) An “aha moment” is when you have sudden clarity of a thought, an idea, a spark of a dream. Typically, in this blog, I’d relate an “aha moment” to you and your dreams of re-thinking your personal brand, or the clarity to finally go for it and start your business. And that fits.

But in this case, my “aha moment” was about celebrity in today’s culture. Authenticity – being real – is an over-hyped term. But at its core, sincerity is still a quality you can feel in others and you know it in yourself. That brings me back to Heather Locklear. It got me thinking about how hard it must be for her, to - out of necessity - build a shell around her real self just so she can walk through a restaurant, go shopping or just goes for a walk on the beach.

Her appearance the first morning at breakfast, with her also-celebrity friend Jack Wagner (of the Bold and Beautiful), caused a heightened buzz through the room. Next came the staring, pointing. Even in a place where all were supposed to be engaged in finding inner peace. Last week's cover story in People magazine, and subsequently in all of the other gossip magazines, had heightened our collective awareness. But none of us know her.

Natalie Goldberg, of Writing Down the Bones fame, began a speech at a writer’s conference I attended with the words, essentially: “You don’t know me. You think you know me. But you don’t. Don’t come up to me at lunch, and chat and talk. I don’t know you.”

She was, I believe, in a very strong and powerful (off-putting to me at the time, but now I’m wiser and understand) manner telling the crowd that our perception of her as a powerful author and inspirational creative force was all we were entitled to have of her. All we, who did not know her, could and should know. The rest was private.

As I glanced at Heather (aka Kathy, the name she used at the resort) and Jack across the room, I saw a couple having fun like everyone else in the room. I saw an animated, beautiful woman who I felt a connection to just because I’ve grown up watching her on TV. She’s my age. I am cheering her on.

But I don’t know her. I shouldn’t want to know about her personal struggles, splashed across the tabloids with words like depression, anxiety, drug abuse. No, what the “aha moment” taught me first-hand this weekend is that our celebrity culture is dangerous. We don’t know these people. We should applaud their art, their acting, their public personas for which they are handsomely rewarded. As for the real person behind the fame, we need to leave her alone.