Famous to the fish.

Famous to the fish.

This week’s poem is by Naomi Shihab Nye. I chose it because it is a sweet reminder that fame requires context and, at the end of the day, what’s most important is that we remember what we’re capable of. Seth Godin calls this being “famous to the family.” For most of us, we only truly care about being acknowledged by a few people. That’s who matters, so why not just focus exclusively on delighting them with your creative work?

What helps remind you of what you’re capable of creatively?

Famous

Naomi Shihab Nye


The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.  

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.  

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.  

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.  

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.  

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.


Rebel work.

Rebel work.

A slow switch.

A slow switch.