Awareness of an audience

The audience awaits a truly wonderful performance of my favorite play, Arms and the Man, at the California Shakespeare Theater, July 2003

The audience awaits a truly wonderful performance of my favorite play,
Arms and the Man, at the California Shakespeare Theater, July 2003

“Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience.”Eric Hoffer

While I’m not sure Hoffer’s assertion is 100% correct (and it may depend upon how “glory” is defined), he definitely has a point.  Certainly many types of glory for which people strive are closely connected with adulation, admiration or adoration.  But such striving also comes with the distinct possibility of failure; hence the common saying, “no guts, no glory.”

If “glory” is defined as widespread praise and fame, I think we would certainly do well to avoid seeking it.  In the first place, we’ll get distracted from our priorities if we are always playing to the reactions of the crowd.  And besides, the audience we may imagine is probably much smaller in real life than in our own minds.  In reality, most people are focused on their own day, their own troubles and efforts.  It’s a bit narcissistic to suppose that people are watching us as closely as we watch ourselves.

So relax!  While it’s more easily said than done, we will be much happier and more productive if we don’t worry about what our imaginary audience may be thinking.  If we lose our self-consciousness by concentrating on things we know to be good, right and honorable, the rest will take care of itself.  Kudos to everyone with the guts to disregard glory!


  1. Setting aside the ego. A lifelong challenge. 🙂

    • Isn’t THAT the truth? As several people have said, humility is the hardest virtue – about the time you realize you have it, you’ve lost it again!

  2. A few months ago, we buried an American hero in Arlington National Cemetery. Since you mentioned the name of his book (see the fifth paragraph under the bio table), I thought you might like to read about Major General Frederick C. Bless::

    • Believe it or not, this Air Force wife had never heard of him, or if I had, I’d forgotten. Thanks for sending the info. He lived a long and impressive life. I had no idea I was quoting his title when I used that term.

  3. I love this view, and it has been a pillar of my coaching approach in soccer. It takes guts to disregard glory, as you put it! I’ll definitely steal that for a halftime talk.

    • Thank you, I’m so glad you like it! I think this challenge would be particularly hard for athletes. It’s difficult to disregard a noisy crowd! Thanks for being here.

  4. Mike Bertoglio

    Todays UR meditation seems to fit in well with your blog also. Choosing joy.
    I think a little ego is a good thing, “let your light shine and do not hide it under a bushel.” Also someone told me recently in regards to job pursuit, “If you don’t blow your own horn no one else will.’ But then there are those who blow their owns so to drown everyone else out.

    • Yes Mike, it’s a tricky line to walk. Confidence is necessary to competence, and often, those who seem to boast the most (or be most aware of trying to please the crowd) actually lack real self-assurance. As with that fine line between being appropriately assertive and disagreeably aggressive, learning to walk that fine line is a great step to wisdom. For a long time I didn’t want to blog at all because I felt that there was no real reason to add my voice to the many already out there. I’m mostly a private person who really feared putting my thoughts online, but at the same time, I can’t write without some degree of self-disclosure. And I still have a fear of self-promotion. But the great thing about blogging is that there is no publisher whose advance you feel pressured to earn back; no imperative to make its raison d’être the goal of earning money. So I figure that I can use this blog to force myself to focus on helpful or uplifting thoughts, and if anyone besides me benefits from it, I am very happy. Besides which, I meet so many interesting people here and learn so much from them! I haven’t made the time to get over to UR today – I need to do that; today’s topic sounds like exactly what I need today. Have a great weekend!

  5. Carlyle

    “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power; all that beauty all that wealth e’re gave, alike await the inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” Thomas Gray

    • Thanks for that wonderful quote, Daddy. Wasn’t that one of the poems in the old leather-bound book you used to have? I will always be grateful that you brought us up with a knowledge and love of literature. Truly one of the richest legacies any of us can leave our children!

  6. To seek glory may have been the downfall of more than a few lost souls thru out history. It’s probably even less attainable by those who crave it over all else, since they also have the notion that with it, comes happiness. At the expense of all else they are generally disappointed. Their money and imagined ‘glory’ only buy false accolades. I think in the rock n roll world, they call them groupies.

    • Yes, it’s very sad to read or hear about people who seem never to find what they desperately crave. I think that’s why we are absorbed by the tragedies and self-destruction of so many celebrities. I believe it’s more than just schadenfreude; most of us see a very hard lesson in what happens in some of these real-life stories.

      • Oh and I met to tell you what a nice looking bunch of guys you hang out with 😉

        • Why thank you, I knew we must have similar taste! 🙂

  7. Mike Bertoglio

    Yea you are not doing your blog for self promotion. I wandered over from the UR site originally and now am a regular visitor and enjoy very much your insights. Now I can blow my own horn a little that I had a UR Meditation accepted for the first time after submitting several over the last couple of years. It is a year away- next July. So that is something I am excited about. It is not totally ego but it is fun to see something you have written published. When I was in Hawaii I would send these editorials out to the newspaper– Honolulu Sun?/- and had a couple published.
    Schadenfreude is the enjoyment of others downfall? Something like that.
    Back to Man of Sorrows. On my last museum visit to NYC I went to the Cloisters museulm along the Hudson in north Manhattan, and they had an amazing frescoe by Nicollo Tomasso called the “Man of Sorrows.” from 1450 or something like that. Apparently in the 1500,s the Man of Sorrows was a common devotional icon having to do with Christ’s passion. Along with the Pieta images.

    • Mike, that is so totally cool that you have a devotional coming up in Upper Room. One of the UR editors I spoke with at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference in 2012 said that they really want and need more male writers. YES their lead time is very long but that is because they have to translate into so many languages. Your devotional will literally be seen by millions all over the world. I have not submitted anything to them in a long time due to everything that is going on in our lives (including this blog) but I think I have one or two still in the pipeline awaiting print. Be sure to let me know what date yours will be coming up – sometimes they change the dates around in the weeks before publication, to fit their editorial calendar. CONGRATULATIONS! Another thing the UR editor told me is that many people are afraid to try writing for UR because they are so selective, but she asked me to encourage others that if they keep trying (as you did) they will usually write something that will match up with their themes at the right time. So often “rejection” is not a result of the writing not being good enough, but just what thematic gaps they are needing to fill. The editors really do come to know you from your submissions and I think they appreciate it when writers keep trying.

      Re:Tomasso’s work – is this the one you saw? I really need to get to the Cloisters sometime and see the artwork there. Sometimes I think the whole idea of Jesus as the “man of sorrows” has been too ignored in our culture, where everything seems to be about popularity and having fun. I think too often, well-meaning ministers try to “sell” the idea of Christianity as a profitable lifestyle rather than a path defined by service, reverence and self-sacrifice. It’s pretty hard to sell the idea of God crucified on a cross to people who are looking for worldly success. Ironically, as several people pointed out in the comments recently, looking desperately for happiness usually leaves people empty every time, whereas the life lived for God, though difficult, does provide deep fulfillment. I really believe that.

  8. Mike Bertoglio

    Yes that is the one. Not sure the picture does it complete justice. It is about 4×4 feet and hung above the doorway into one of the rooms. Also the Camplin painting of the annunciation- also at the Cloisters- was amazing. It amazes me that someone paints a picture 500 years ago and it speaks to me today. I think I mentioned my favorite pict at the Met- by El Greco- ” Christ carrying the cross.” Apparently the ‘man of sorrows” theme comes from Isaiah 53-” he was bruised for our iniquity.” The Isaiah passage is a prophecy for the true character of the Messiah. Yes – it does not fit with the success Christian philosophy of some mega churches.
    Thanks for encouragement on writing. Did not know they need more male writers. Should I try to pick more male themes? Like car mechanics. But I had resolved not to send anymore as I had so many rejected- or so it seemed. Probably not that many. Next July issue. I will let you know.
    The Blue Ridge Christian writers conference? Sounds interesting.
    Also do you try to pick something for a particular time- like All Saints day or Pentecost?

    • Hi Mike, one of the first things that used to amaze me when I started visiting art galleries and museums, was how much a work loses in translation to even a very well-made print, digital photo, or copy. Jeff and I have several prints of works we loved in their original editions; a couple are signed, numbered artist’s versions, but even those bear much less of the power and beauty of the original. Mostly they remind us of what a magnificent piece it is in real life, I think.

      I don’t think UR is specifically looking for male topics, probably more of a male viewpoint on things, and to encourage men to take more active roles in leading devotional activities, which some people unfortunately see as something mostly for women. Do you have a copy of their writer’s guidelines and editorial calendar? If you can’t find it online, I can probably find a copy to send you. I know that each issue has a theme, and they try to feature devotionals from scriptures that relate to the theme.

      You can read more about the BRMCWC here. Jeff gave me attendance to the conference as a gift in 2012 and I absolutely loved it. I also attended Write to Publish at Wheaton (near Chicago) in 2010. Both were great experiences but the most wonderful outcome of the conferences was the many people I met. I still keep in touch with several of them. There are many highly successful published authors there who really have a heart for those who are just getting started, and there is not as much sense of competition there as I’ve detected at some other conferences. As one sister said in her prayer before a class on speaking at women’s retreats, “Thank you for bringing us all together here, where we are not alone in our oddities.” 🙂 Writers are a peculiar breed, and I think Christian writers and artists often feel an even greater degree of isolation. It’s wonderful to have the chance to visit face-to-face and worship alongside writers and other artists whose work I admire.

      Along about the time Matt was born, Isaiah 53 became one of my favorite passages. I had always loved the words from Handel’s incomparable Messiah, many of which come straight from Isaiah, but I felt the meaning on a deeper level as I watched Matt grow up. For example, I came to have a whole new understanding of the phrase “as one from whom men turn their faces.”

  9. Mike Bertoglio

    Thanks Julia. I do have the UR guidelines on line. Not as easy as it sounds to write these short meditations.
    After my visit to NYC I am thinking of writing a little children’s book for my grandson–JM.
    BTW have you read “Seven story Mountain’ by Trappist Thomas Merton? Wonderful Christian writer.

    • Writing within those word limitations is definitely a challenge, and it’s great exercise for me since I am so verbose. Usually I start out with about 400 words or so, and just have to go back and cut! Writing for children is also much more difficult than it seems. In library school they taught us that good children’s picture books must appeal as much to the adults as to the children, since the adults will be the ones who are asked to read them over and over. I haven’t read (or heard of) that work by Merton, but I have read passages from his works that I really enjoyed. One year our son gave us a daily devotional guide with a year’s worth of short excerpts from his work — Jeff always reads two or three such short devotionals from different books each night at dinner — and I remember there were a lot of thought-provoking entries.

  10. Mike Bertoglio

    Thanks Julia.


  1. A very common phenomenon | Defeat Despair

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