Adam Lambert was playing in Milwaukee and a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go. I had never been to a Pop concert before. It would be my very first one. To be honest I hadn’t really listened to Adam Lambert too much. I never got into American Idol. Then again, this was kind of how I did everything. I said yes to the concert, not being at all familiar with him. I downloaded his newest album. After several weeks of preparation and plenty of time familiarizing myself with his music, I was ready.
I had taken some paid vacation time and proceeded to have a fun day. After the few weeks I had gone through prior, adjusting to our new store manager and spending a lot of time on entire department moves, I was ready for some fun. We visited the History Museum in Milwaukee. Spent the evening at Rockbottom Brewery. Then we went to The Riverside Theater to pick up our VIP Level 2 complementary merchandise and find our seats.
The show started off with Alex Newell, the Trans actor from Glee, and very talented singer. I was so impressed with his vocal range and loved his sound that I went home that night and downloaded his music on iTunes. Not to mention, how much fun his drummer, Bruno, looked like he was having. Even as I stood in the longest bathroom line of my life between sets, I pondered the voice and found myself impressed. That is, until the two older ladies in front of me started talking about how disappointed they were with him. How they expected someone more “flamboyant” and “fun” to open and entertain them.
They were referring to the lack of costuming as part of the problem. “She only wore a shirt and jeans.” One commented. “I expected more.” Agreed the other. Having heard enough I turned around and commented “With a talent like that, who needs to be more?” The women shut up immediately, as if they suddenly realized that they were being overheard and not isolated in a line of women who needed to pee. I was grateful, since my full bladder was making me particularly ornery, and I had no patients for people who were haters. More likely, very ignorant ones, as I could assume from their ages. They probably didn’t know he was an actor from Glee. They probably didn’t even know he was actually born a male. I wondered if their children dragged them to this?
When Adam performed I was blown away. His stage presence was astounding. His interaction with his audience was fun. He looked like he was actually having a good time. Like he was born to do this. He looked like he had found his calling, and wanted to entertain people for his life.
Then I really thought about it…
As I stood/danced in the crowed I wondered if there was something really fulfilling about being an entertainer? Did he miss his family? Were there nights he just wasn’t feeling it? Was this all a carefully constructed personality? An act? Was this guy for real or was he just a talented dude with an awesome fashion crew and great branding who got a lucky break? I assumed at certain points in his life, he probably dealt with all these realizations and emotions. I supposed there were moments where when he was looking at the crowd, he was probably thinking of his mom and missing her, or wondering how long it had been since he talked to his dad. I couldn’t help but wonder what really kept him doing all this?
Then I saw it.
As I observed the crowed I understood it completely. People had shirts with his face on them. Some people were super-fans who practically cosplayed as him. People were crying. Dancing. Drinking and laughing. Some even putting their hands up on the crowed…prayerfully.
I had heard of things like this. This was talked about extensively in our theology classes back in college. The drinking and sex that happened in temples. The iconography that lined walls of spaces of worship. The personal identification with the idol. The American Idol. It became so clear that these people were seeking refuge from a harsh and painful world by treating another human being as if he was God. They were identifying with him, and finding affirmation. They were literally worshiping him, and probably didn’t even know it.
After a while he addressed the crowd. He started just goofing off and after a while got serious “I’m about to get preachy for a moment…” Which made perfect sense after I made the observations I did. He continued to talk about how it was so cool to see so many different backgrounds and faiths and diversity in general at his concert, but he wanted people to remember, that though all this was worth celebrating, that we are all still human, and that we are all meant and made to seek happiness.
I stood dead still and silent as everyone cheered.
If you’ve read my thoughts before, you would know that I do not believe happiness is the meaning of life. To quote an Adam Lambert song title “There I Said It.” I have come to this conclusion not because I am a fatalist, but because in life I believe everything has reason. I suffer from depression, and in my desire for understanding why, I have discovered that if life was actually about being happy, humans would be satisfied by happiness alone. But happiness is finite. We have to CONSTANTLY seek it because the previous thing that made us happy…lost it’s charm. It faded. It was just temporary.
I do not put my hope and desires in temporary things.
Another thing I had pondered was Adam’s comment about being different and celebrating those differences, but recognizing that we all need happiness. I found myself thinking about that a lot on the way home, because in my mind, out of nowhere and seemingly outside of myself I heard a question:
If our differences are worth celebrating, then why is it that humans can only relate to each other on common ground?
I have this joke at work that’s partly morbid. When we have a fixture that is not like the other fixtures in a department, I tell my managers “Kill it because it’s different.” It’s my humorous and less than politically correct way of saying “We need consistency in this department for it to look good. Switch out the fixture.” Humans do this with people too. It’s a part of our imperfect nature. We are about the “way things look” and when something doesn’t look consistent or comfortable there is a part of our brain that literally feels like “kill it because it’s different.” Of course it doesn’t always show it’s self so harshly. Sometimes it shows it’s self like feeling uncomfortable when you see and Arab man in the same cafe as you. Or if you see a man who looks like a gun slinging cowboy who wants to build a wall on the boarder of your mother country and his. Or the feeling of your brain dying when you listen to Donald Trump speak in general.
I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do recognize that there seems to be a kind of desire for an absolute. The absolute being that we are to recognize we are all human. We are all imperfect. But, if we are imperfect, how do we know we are imperfect if there is “no such thing as perfect?” This is the question that brought me to Christianity.
Still, I enjoyed the show tremendously. If he felt compelled to live his life serving as an entertainer for the world, that was entirely his choice. I was gratified in my own way having seen him perform live. In a way entertainers exist for their audience’s amusement. As long as he was okay with that, I was allowed to be okay with that too.