Monday, July 18, 2016

The Pocketknife and the Butterfly

The Reluctant Debutante 
I did not debut at the Camellia Ball.  Which was just as well since pink is not my color.

Instead, when I turned 21, a group of fabulous women threw a party in my honor.  It was a festive affair, held at a lovely home in the historic Leinkauf district.  The only requirement for attendance was a sense of humor.    

To escort me as I made my debut, the hostesses called on local legend Eugene Walter.  Most of you do not know Eugene, but he grew up on the Gulf Coast, moved to Europe, acted in several Felinni films, composed music for Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet, was there for the founding of the Paris Review, wrote books and threw fabulous dinner parties.  Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Eugene knows that he was a man who understood what it meant to make an entrance. As one writer noted, "Eugene cultivated the art of being fabulous."

Grand Entrance 
Eugene was quick to accept the invitation and assured us that he would arrive in tails.  Which he did.  A long furry fox tail hung from the back of his pants.  As I made my way down the grand staircase, decked out in my gown and requisite tiara, Eugene held my arm and howled at the moon. 

It was very dramatic and quite apropos, for Eugene had a reputation to live up to and he did not want to disappoint.

Eugene was first and foremost, a writer, and we writers tend to see the world in metaphor.  After my grand entrance, Eugene presented me with a small box.  Inside the box was a pocketknife and a butterfly.  He told me, "Every woman must learn when to be a pocketknife and when to be a butterfly."  

It’s an important lesson to learn.  Inside each of us lives a little bit of both:  the pocketknife, which is strong, powerful and perhaps at times even dangerous, and the butterfly, which is beautiful, fragile, and graceful.   

It was great advice for a young woman making her debut.  Great advice to take out into the world.   

I’ve always related well with the pocketknife, but have had to work hard to cultivate my inner butterfly.  It is, as they say, all about balance.  For a long time, that’s how I lived my life.  Part pocketknife and part butterfly.  As I have gotten older I have realized that the real test is learning how to have the strength of the pocketknife, while maintaining the grace of the butterfly. 

You can read more about Eugene Walter here.  

Have you check out On Being?  They have a wonderful website filled with interesting, well-written content, as well as a podcast.  I'm hooked.

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