November 20, 2009 by David Gillaspie
Who made you who you are? What person or event changed you from who you used to be? Famous people have their story worked out when they are asked these questions.
Maybe you should too.
Movie stars say they felt the grip of the grease paint on the playroom stage of their family holiday productions. Since then all they wanted to do was act. Others say a high school play inspired them, a college play, or they had a roommate going out on auditions so they went to.
They might say they were standing in the bus station when someone noticed them, but that myth is harder to believe outside Hollywood.
Politicians might say they felt the call to duty after visiting a disaster area, or a country in civil war. Once they’ve been where life is in jeopardy they want to improve the lot of those back home. Have you heard that one? It’s all about helping The People, so they run for office and do Good Works. Once they start working on re-election the focus changes.
Athletes have the best stories. These are people with the same skills as anyone else, but who hone those skills into a limited set. They apply that skill set to their sport. If they are good enough they make the Big Time.
Keep in mind that Big Time means something different to each person. Big Time might be making a team in high school; Big Time might be playing under the lights on a Friday night, or in front of the cameras on a Saturday.
What about people who just want to feel better about where they live?
The definition of Big Time depends on where you are at the moment. It’s not always about big cities and bright lights. Big Time on the Oregon coast could mean a kid from Charleston going to the Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay, or an artist in LaGrande reaching out to young artists in the community. Big Time might be someone in Moro visiting the Sherman County Historical Museum on the day they decide to move away, but change their mind.
The Big Time happens in small places with the help of grants. The Ford Family Foundation helps the Coos Art Museum; the Collins Foundation helps Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council; the Meyer Memorial Trust helps the Sherman County Historical Museum. Will any of these names click with a fourth grader? Probably not, but they do with the people providing a Big Time experience in small towns across Oregon.
Portland isn’t the only place to attend the theater, a concert, or a workshop. Grants help local organizations build the Big Time in their own backyards.
I asked some New Yorkers once if they saw the same television programs and commercials as the rest of the country. I was surprised to hear, “This is New York, we see everything and we see it first.”
When I asked them if they knew where Oregon was, some got it right. One person said, “Near Wyoming?” Another said, “in California?”
The Big Time is right where you are. Take a good look around and remember why it’s important. The evidence is in the faces you see.
They are Oregon faces.
They are us.