Shirley MacLaine is one of those smart people who can act, sing and dance. Her appearance at Proctors on Friday was remarkable to observe. The first section was a photo show of all the people she's met and interacted with over her career. We are talking almost every world leader during the last quarter of the 20th century. On the show biz side her connections with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack was also on display.
The thoughts of why these world leaders would want to discuss anything of import with an actress ran through my mind during that part of the event. I wrote it off to the probability that even the powerful are media-whores.
When MacLaine started interacting with the audience. many of those "why" thoughts came into play. Why were all these people lining up to tell her how much she's influenced their lives and why do they think she has the secret to the mysteries of life. I wanted to shout - she's an actress, who in her youth could sing and dance. She's not a guru.
However, as the Q & A went on I began to rethink my stance. Yes, if MacLaine were not a famous movies star she probably wouldn't have met the Kennedy's, the Dali Lama, President Reagan and others. But what I ended up admiring about MacLaine was the way she used her access as an educational tool. It became very clear that she is extremely intelligent, committed to life and is a searcher of truth. She was fortunate enough to meet the smartest and most powerful people in the world. She was wise enough to learn the from them the shortcomings of power and intellignece. Because of this learning, she never fawns and as a result her self-confidence and composure are both calming and reassuring.
Most important, at Proctors, MacLaine never acted as if she had all the answers. What she understands is her devotion to exploring the unknown has put her on a path. She believes that path is right for her and might be right for others. She doesn't lecture and simply talks about what she's learned and what she believes. She leaves it up to you to accept, modify or dismiss he notions.
She doesn't care if you travel with her. For her its the journey that is important and she knows that journey must be made alone. How refreshing it was to hear someone who is convinced about the validity of their own beliefs not insisting that they are the only truths that have to be accepted by all.
If only our politicians would take that same approach.