In the years as I was entering High School, my brother dated a beautiful young woman named Jane. She was fresh-faced and true, and very, very intelligent. They went to college together. She supported him – pecadillos and all – bearing witness to the craziness of our home with great grace and compassion. For a while there I had a chance to know a balanced and loving person who lived in their own skin, and while it may not sound like much, at the time it seemed a rare and curious thing to me. Through her I learned a lesson about who we are at our beginnings, and who we can be.
She came from a close-knit family, talented and a bit eccentric perhaps like our own, but right side up. They were supportive of one another's eccentricities with obvious and enviable love (which I now recognize as Source energy), while our own family struggled along living an illusion of wellness.
In the wake of my first teenage break-up, Jane and my brother often encouraged me to date her younger sister, but to me she seemed much too young. At seventeen, drugs and alcohol were all around me, all the time. There'd been trauma at home, and within my peripheral family. Aside from that invisible resumé, I'd been working in the world of adults from an early age and I just felt old already. In my finite teenage wisdom, I didn't see how an innocent 15-year-old girl could possibly have the necessary experience to match my worldly self-centeredness.
I finally succumbed and picked up Jane's little sister for a date to Balboa Park in San Diego (seen as "Xanadu" in the opening of Citizen Kane). Since I've learned that the thing that often offends you most about someone else is caused by the subconscious awareness of that same characteristic in yourself (thank you, Dr. Jung), it follows that I diagnosed Annette as suffering from a case of unconscious vanity. She kept noticing herself in the reflection of store windows, which I couldn't help but notice when I was noticing myself. So she unintentionally made me uncomfortably conscious of me.
After touring the museum, we were sitting on a big park bench making very small talk when Annette suddenly pulled her feet under herself, and stood straight up next to me on the bench. She threw her arms up over her head, rolling her wrists out to push her palms up, and agitating like some fairy princess washing machine she loudly pronounced, "SOMEDAY I'M GOING TO BE A GREAT AND FAMOUS ACTRESS, AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW MY NAME!"
I was casually chagrined. I tapped her on the leg and suggested that she get down as people were looking. And people were looking, and they were smiling. Her future fans were already noticing as Annette was molding the plastic life ahead of her in an altogether good-natured way – and I hadn't a clue what I was witnessing.
She starred in the high school drama club. She went on to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She broke out in Stephen Frear's popular movie The Grifters, and went on to become a great and famous Academy Award nominated actress. Among other things to her credit in a very accomplished career, she married Warren Beatty and had a family of her own. They're probably a little eccentric, and lovingly supportive of it.
I liked to joke that she settled for second best, but as usual I was painting "funny" over my feelings – flummoxed and intimidated by someone so young who could create their karma with such focused intention, when for so many years I just kept feeling, well clueless. It all makes me smile now – the beautiful accuracy of her park bench prophecy.
Some people are born with symphonies in place, ready to come out by age five. Others enter into young adulthood blossoming into their co-created karma. Annette just knew already. Some people (ahem...) don't know what their purpose is until they've had to survive every other possibility, and like a painful Sherlock Holmes deduction, whatever else remains must be the truth.
Her older sister Jane went on to Johns Hopkins and became a cardiologist, I think...and I think she knew too.
"You have your paintbox and colors.
Paint paradise, and in you go."
Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online, and How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond – available the same ways – but ask for it at your local bookstore!