Fan. Performer with fans in the crowd.

Finding Inspiration in our Favorites: What it Means to be a Fan

I’m a big fan!

To some, this statement engenders a visceral negative reaction. Many people want to be admired for what they do, and some people, such as authors, musicians, and actors, depend on it for their livelihood. But there are different levels of fandom. Some are healthy and appropriate, and some are extreme, bordering on harassment.

The word “fan” is a shortened version of “fanatic,” meaning marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. It comes from the Latin fanaticus, the definition of which I like even more: insanely but divinely inspired. The spectrum of fandom ranges from admiring and appreciating someone’s work, to being influenced by them, to trying to emulate them, to worshiping them, all the way to trying to become part of their lives.

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Obstacles. Amazing Maze.

Obstacles

What is stopping you from living a great life?

Is it something that can be overcome? Is it a legitimate excuse? Is it real, or is it something you use to rationalize your limitations?

All of us have obstacles. Sometimes we acknowledge them. Sometimes we address them. Sometimes we overcome them.

However, sometimes we incorporate them into our lives.

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Looking to the future.

Future

What does the future hold for you?

What is around the next corner?

Do you feel like your life is predetermined and you’re trapped on a path from which there is no escape, or do you feel as free as a bird to go where life takes you?

Are responsibilities, expectations, and commitments limiting what you do, or is your life your own to do with as you wish?

For most people, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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Play! A group of friends having fun.

Play

Do you want to go out and play?!

As adults, our time for playing is usually not as spontaneous as that. Our playtime is often highly scheduled, goal-oriented, competitive, or in many cases, non-existent. We may have hobbies, activities we do for relaxation, or things we do to pass the time, but how much of it is fun? How much of it is carefree? How often is it spontaneous?

As adults in Western society, we have many expectations placed on us. We’re expected to go to work, pay our bills, raise our children; more fundamentally, we’re expected to act “responsibly.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but for many, this sense of responsibility displaces any sense of fun we had. We may occasionally let our hair down in a card game with friends or at the beach on vacation, but is fun and playing an essential part of our lives? Is it part of who we are?

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Yourself. Standing out in a crowd.

Yourself

Who are you? Do you know?

How do you express who you are to the world?

Of course, that first question is a biggie. Some people go their whole lives without figuring that out. There are many aspects to what makes up a person, and we all need to explore them for ourselves.

We also have to decide how to express who we are.

When I play music, I have a set of what I call my “gig shirts,” which are colorful or otherwise interesting. Lately, I’ve been thinking, “Why can’t I wear these shirts when I go out or get together with friends?” I wore one of them at my family’s Thanksgiving get-together and my brother Jimmy asked, “Does the store where you got that shirt sell any men’s clothes?” (HAHAHA!!). But the point is, these shirts aren’t what I normally wear.

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