Sunday Scribblings – A passion for admiration

Joseph Addison, a 17th century essayist and poet, said, “Admiration is a very short-lived passion that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object, unless it be still fed with fresh discoveries, and kept alive by a perpetual succession of miracles rising into view.”  Admiration is indeed a passion.  I’ve experienced it and love the feeling of it.  Coming straight off yesterday’s “The drug” post, I can continue the basic theme by admitting I live to be in the state of admiration in general.  To me, admiration is adoration of the exceptional.  Whether it’s an exceptional person, thing, or idea, I enjoy the feeling of excitement, enthusiasm, and aliveness that pervades my entire being, possibly to the point of addiction.  And I’ve watched others in varied states of admiration.

The most excessive admiration I’ve seen, yet understand completely, is that of groupies—groupies of musicians, politicians, athletes, even firefighters—of anyone who represents a measure of power and elevation above the norm.  It’s not just admiration from afar.  And it’s not always so much about the music, or the politics or whatever the earthbound deity’s gig is.  It seems hardly about craving an autographical brush with a star, but more about a desperate desire to be assimilated by greatness, perhaps out a gaping lack of self-worth, inventiveness and skill of one’s own.  Even if that were not the case, and the groupie nature comprised a sort of corporate arrogance, maybe gained from being the one with the attributes the stars are most attracted to, in my opinion it still wreaks of the ultimate unbalanced sacrifice, the laying down of one’s soul to be trampled at the feet of another who is no equitable god.

Probably most, if not all groupies would argue that point, preferring to consider themselves muses, or simply involved in the occupation of supporting and sustaining the stars.  The Penny Lane character in the movie “Almost Famous” says, “We are not Groupies.  We are here because of the music, we inspire the music.  We are Band Aids.”  And Pamela Des Barres, maybe the most famous of real-life groupies, in an interview with David Templeton of AlterNet, kept trying to sell groupie-ism as having played an integral part in the history of feminism, “We were there doing exactly what we wanted to do. That’s the heart of feminism, isn’t it? We were paving the way. We were the real feminists, breaking new ground, throwing out the rules of how a decent young woman was supposed to behave.”

Nice spin.  But it kind of clashes with another Des Barres quote from that same interview, this one in more traditional groupie language, a more conflicting statement, pathetical yet punctuated with egoism, “A groupie was more than just some girl who wanted to get laid by any member of the band. Sure, it may have been like that in the late ’70s and the ’80s, but when we were doing it, it was more about being a part of the scene. It was about being embraced by the group, like we were embraced by all of Led Zeppelin, who, I must say, adored me.  Oh, but of course.

I dredged all that that up, went straight down Excess Lane, because I wonder if there really is what’s called a “healthy” admiration.  My favorite online dictionary doesn’t help the case with the adoring pictures chosen for each of the different Thesaurus entries.  And it could be just me, but I swear the definition itself at least points toward fixation:  “1. A feeling of pleasure, wonder and approval.  2. An object of wonder and esteem; a marvel.”  Wonder?  Marvel?  The awe twins.  And awe is over the top to the heavens.

If there is a line between healthy and unhealthy admiration, I feel like it’s a ridiculously fine line.  Can you admire someone just a little, just enough, stopping short of wonder, a.k.a. awe?  Perhaps some can, but if I question myself, if I do a quick mental check from now back to then, of all the people I’ve admired, I’d have to say I don’t remember admiring anyone short of being crazily amazed and awed.  It’s been either all or nothing, below deck or overboard.

But as the Addison quote says, admiration is a passion that can fizzle out as quickly as it skyrocketed toward the stars.  Again, if I check my experience and that of others I’ve watched, it’s true.  If we don’t keep up our relationships by continually adding the spice of sharing inspiring thoughts and ideas, and participating in activities and projects that freshen and bolster the bond, the relationship will crash, or at best, become mechanical and mundane.  I would like to say this shouldn’t be work but after many years of knowing someone, something like work may be necessary, although I’d like to call it something a little more appealing…like keeping your richest, lushest gardens thoroughly watered with plenty of Miracle-Gro® in the mix.


What’s your definition of a groupie?  Have you ever been one? 

Can you admire someone just a little?  Or is it over the top or nothing? 

If you can be subdued about admiration, how do you do it?

Do you keep your relationships fresh and lively?  If so, how?

Photos above by Getty Images 



Click here  for more on prompt “#99 – Passion” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

14 responses to “Sunday Scribblings – A passion for admiration

  1. Hmmm…I actually would have thought passion is more long-lived than admiration. Maybe my admiration is more concrete and founded than the type you are talking about (groupies, fans…)

  2. Passion isn’t admiration for me!
    A 17th century interpretation doesn’t apply in the now for me, aren’t groupies fan – atics? Interesting post!

  3. Redness: that’s a good thing, less complicated for you! Passion is a powerful thing all tangled up in ardent love, joy, boundless enthusiasm…so for me to feel any of those things in relation to a person whom I regard with wonder and approval…well, you can imagine. What’s behind that also has to do with why my take on the words of a 17th century writer would be equally as ooey-gooey. Yes, I’m one of “those” who feel there’s power within words to transfer ageless truths and human emotions timelessly relevantly. Your thoughts, my thoughts, more material to put in the catch-all category of it-takes-all-kinds-to-make-the-world-go-‘round… Thanks for your visit and your take on things.

    Betty: good thought-provoking comment. From it I’ve come up with the tendency to think both passion and admiration have equal potential for staying power. In my experience, my passion for words, word usage, and writing is easy, it’s amazingly lived as long as I have to date. Admiration for people has been a bit trickier, my admiration being dependent on a person’s consistency of actions in relation to the original reason I found them admirable, but I believe long-term admiration is entirely possible. My admiration for Yo-Yo Ma might suffice as an example of that. Here’s an amazing man with incredible talent, humanitarian interests and with actions as true and consistent as it gets. I’ve admired him ever since I first heard of him when he got his first Grammy in 1985. The shelf life of passion and admiration may not be settable across the board, may have everything to do with varied personal experience, but as I say, this is my current tendency… I’m glad you came by and shared your thoughts!

  4. I admire the moon
    for i see it is like me;
    wild and natural
    flying through this evening’s winter sky
    unbridled in abandon, free!

    And I admire the sunset, too!
    Flailing scarlet blood arms about
    amid swirls of purple flame
    through the golden glow
    of certainty – without shame.

    And should I say
    I admire the dead, as well ?
    For they can do what I cannot,
    those vessels of virility,
    used up and now discarded,
    lying within that very earth
    they once strode up upon so mightily,
    now without even a shadow to their name
    yet fulfilled, at peace, and without blame.

  5. Well, Bass, I haven’t heard from you in awhile. And you return in a blaze, with this lavish display of poetic prowess. That you’ve utterly overshadowed my mundane, journalistically-styled offering with this stunning adornment—your celestial swirlings ‘round Death’s lovely smile—is no matter at all in the name of the gods of creativity, no matter at all! You must have been partaking of the drug, Inspiration! And truly, if you read yesterday’s post you’d know I was playing, purporting indignance. It seems you’ve got the gift that fully opens to and welcomes inspired creative flow, and you’re invited to return to share more results of that anytime!!!

  6. I think ultimately groupie-ing denotes a certain lack of self-esteem, when one doesn’t feel as valuable as the other person they’re adoring. Like you said: “trampled at the feet”.

    I understand what you mean about the admiration, I’m pretty passionate at that too, but I think one can admire others a little. Perhaps that’s more respect than genuine admiration. I also agree with Betty when she says admiration last more than passion. Maybe I have more passions than admirations, perhaps admiration is more mature than that. Perhaps it envolves more detachtment and respect. In that sense, groupies don’t seem like admirers to me, more like fanatics as Redness put it.

  7. This is all very good, interesting. Your comment gives more energy to my hunch that the words “passion” and “admiration” are being treated subjectively, linked to each individual’s image and understanding of the words. They definitely seem so annoyingly nebulous. I found myself going back and forth with them. For instance, when I responded to Betty C’s comment and wrote about my admiration for Yo-Yo Ma, I thought, well I just proved you could indeed admire someone normally, as opposed to fanatically, because my admiration for him feels totally healthy. But right after that thought came the same wondering as you mentioned, that perhaps that was more about respect. LOL! I keep looking at the dictionary definitions and their descriptives like “boundless enthusiasm” and “object of wonder” and how much leeway that seems to give toward the overboard side of things. Well, at least we’re having fun with it…I certainly am anyway! :-)

  8. Oh yeah! I forgot already…I’m in cobweb denial! LOL! Wow, and everything in and around this post sure does offer one heck of a case in point! OK, well that’s one thing on the ever-growing list of reasons why I’m partial to you…you keep me straight! :-)

  9. Oh, thank you…again. And for your return visit. How do you do it? There are over a hundred SS participants and although I would like to see what everyone is doing, it’s not possible time-wise. So c’mon Tumblewords, tell me your secret! ;-)

  10. Great post. Thought provoking. I read a quote somewhere. It might not totally apply here but I liked it. It goes something like this: “men grow to love the woman they admire, while women grow to admire the man they love”

  11. MBW: I like that, too. Of course I had to apply it to myself to see if it was true in my experience! I went back through the relationships list and it seems I begin with admiration and work toward love. Oh dear, I think more like a man? Left-brain suspicions confirmed? So that got me off on a fun little search and I found this cool blog site with a quick left-brain/right-brain quiz. Yup, I’m 65% left-brained and 35% right-brained! LOL! Alrighty then! Back to my work. Thanks for prompting that little break, and for coming back to visit!

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