My wake-up call this morning was a raw and inspiring article on the front cover of the August 16, 2011 Los Angeles Times.
Writer Nita Lelyveld turned what is often a "celebrity behaving badly" story into an "empowered celebrated human being" tale that touched my heart.
If you didn’t read “A House That Claimed His Fame" — the story of singer Norwood Young’s journey to be known for who he is rather than the abundance he has accumulated — here it is in a nutshell.
Flamboyant professional singer Young purshased a home in Los Angeles' historic Hancock Park in the 1990s, and notoriously put 19 Statue of David replicas up in the front yard — an act that brought him the attention he always craved, but not the satisfaction. He's now trying to sell the house.
It's rare to find something in today’s traditional, non-traditional and tabloid news that is without partisanship, hate or violence. It lifts rather than tears down our primary personal issue — our own sense of worth, significance and belonging.It will compel you to rethink your values and consider whether or not you’re investing in your highest ideals or inflated ego.
Young found himself at such a crossroad and took the road that forever changed his life and gave him what he wanted most — the satisfaction of knowing his true self is significant “enough," no materialistic evidence required.
Young once sought recognition and esteem with his “House of Davids”, 19 Michelangelo “Statue of Davids” on pedestals that adorned the front lawn of his Hancock Park home, aptly named Youngwood Court.
The decorating anomaly attracted the attention of tour buses. He succeeded in getting the attention of drive-by gawkers and the media as he pissed-off his church-quiet neighbors. He failed at achieving what he wanted most — the feeling that he and his life mattered enough to be worthy enough of such grand interest.
Young resented his own creation of a showcase that was more famous than its owner.
At first, the symbol of David represented what Young had to overcome in life. The more he discovered people weren’t interested in his artistic metaphor, the more he finally realized his lawn ornaments were merely what he called the “penis symbols” of his woefully misguided ego.
Throwing over-the-top theme parties to increase his notoriety left him empty and tired of being known not for his beautiful singing voice but for his house and wacky pursuit of fame.
Perhaps it was a misinterpreted message Young received in the attention he got as a fashion-focused child.
His outer costume did deliver the attention he craved. He made the errant assumption that external things, then, can deliver internal and eternal satisfaction.
What worked in his formative years didn’t serve him well as an adult. Recently, comfortable in his own skin, Young self-published “Getting Back to My Me," which told the story of his childhood physical and emotional abuse.
With his renewed connection with his own value, Young no longer feels the need to hide behind a spectacle in order to be seen. He’s embraced his strength and beauty the lies in his vulnerability.
Young’s story doesn’t end here. It’s only a new beginning that will shape his life from this day forward. He realized true wealth and significance is an inside job. More fundamental is his willingness to boldly share his vulnerability with the world.
This story matters. Norwood Young matters. In peeling away the layers of his false identity to reveal his heart, Young teaches us a powerful lesson in the magnificence of our own innate gifts.
While Young has a recognized singing voice, it’s the voice in his soul, the expression of his truth, is what ultimately makes a difference for the greater good of us all.