Samara O'Shea

A Dream Deferred

On my daily virtual visit to the NYTimes, I came across an article about Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay (decathlete). Bryan was a champion in Beijing but did not return home to the fanfare or endorsement deals awaiting Michael Phelps. To be fair, most Olympic athletes didn’t, but to quote the Times, “The decathlon was once a star-making event of the Olympics.”

As far as I’m concerned, this falls in line with the actors who win Oscars out of the gate and never go on to be well known or talented musicians who write their own music and lyrics but never end up on the charts. Meanwhile they (we) have to sit back and watch talentless (read: no skills) people rise to the top based on nothing but a name or a reality TV show gig.

I was complaining to a friend about Britney Spears the other day—saying something along the lines of: “She’s cute and she can dance but she doesn’t write her own songs, sing live, have a stellar voice,” or any of the other things that usually accompany a great musical talent. Later that day, I ended up at Barnes and Noble flipping through a coffee-table book about Marilyn Monroe. I could look at photos of that woman forever—she’s so captivating. Suddenly, I realize that she’s strikingly similar to Britney. She’s wasn’t a great actress by any stretch nor did she do anything that contributed to the betterment of the national or global community, but we love her. We’re forever taken with her. What is that? It’s not fair? But it is now and perhaps always will be the case.

Bryan has a good attitude. He knows it’s not fair, but he doesn’t complain. He recognizes his hardship and moves forward—taking satisfaction and pleasure from his home life. He reminds me of a lyric line in the Fiona Apple song “Extraordinary Machine”:

~ “I still only travel by foot and by foot it’s a slow climb, but I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time.” ~

I imagine humility, insight, and change don’t come so easily to the people who get what they want right away, but they suffer in different ways. A la Miss Spears and Miss Monroe.

A Dream Deferred is a poem by Langston Huges.