I am no stranger to cynicism. Early in my teen years, I pulled its protective cloak about me to keep out the twin demons of gullibility and inadequacy. As the years passed, it shielded me from ruined hopes and dashed dreams, while at the same time providing me with a persona in which I could masquerade. Not entirely, but enough so that I made it through some hard-learned lessons without consequences that were too dire to bear.
I was not oblivious to the barbed quills that shot from cynicism, the walls that isolated me, the enormous consequences of skepticism. As I moved from one small town to another yet smaller and then to another smaller still, I found the cloak becoming tattered and thin, until one day I awoke and it had vanished. In its place I found wonder and trust and a zest for life I had not known previously.
I have learned lessons in my unprotected state, both good and bad, but I also have been able to find redemption when my trust was violated.
So, when I was told that perhaps all was not as it seemed when a middle-aged spinster from
I thought about Ms. Boyle’s wish to be as famous as Elaine Paige, the first lady of British musical theater. Lofty aspirations, I thought, until she opened her mouth and the first line of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables filled that vast theater with a voice as pure as goodness itself.
Alas, I hate to be the one to tell Ms. Boyle that, like another line from the song, “there are dreams that cannot be…”, but this one, too, must be set aside. As the hits on YouTube pass fifty million and counting, Susan Boyle, in a few short days, has far exceeded Elaine Paige’s fame, and she has only just begun. So, m'lady Susan, you will have to reach higher for another dream.
The lesson of Susan Boyle, a matronly nanny-like woman who projects “realness”, is not that the producers may have set the audience up to expect another abysmally wretched sham only to hear a performance that had it on its feet and clapping throughout much of it. It is not that only the beautiful can touch our hearts, or that youth is a prerequisite of stardom.
No, the lesson is that great gifts often come in mismarked packages.