How do you remember me, I asked nervously for his answer, please tell me you only kept happy memories. I had not talked to him in almost a year, I was not the love of his life and he was not mine, but I believed we could be friends if we tried, I was willing to if he also was, but I needed the assurance that I did not have to worry about his feelings changing overnight and I needed answers because although I had forgiven him, I had to know for certain I could trust his word when he gave me his friendship. He sighed, smiled, paused and said in a breath: I remember how whimsical you are, how you sat there in the summer air your nose in a book and you looked so happy and yet gracious, your legs curled under you, you looked like you held the world in your hands, you seemed absorbed by what you were reading. I remember you smiling in the dimming daylight, looking like God’s most precious creature, how heavenly your lashes fluttered over your emerald eyes, how your hair fell into a cascade over your shoulders. I remember how you laugh and how soft and kind you are. I remember your flaming self-respect and how determined you are. I remember how ambitious and hardworking you are. You are one sweet human, you have a pure heart. I remember how calm life is with you, how calming your voice is and how gentle your hand rests on a shoulder. I remember I felt at home.
I, for one, also remember exactly when that was, I think it also is when I finally learned the secret of immortality. I always hoped I’d be the kind of woman who was unforgettable. A human version of clair de lune, someone so beautiful and yet a little mysterious, someone dazzling. I thought I would have to make this woman piece by piece, assemble her like a puzzle because it was so far from being who I was, I always thought I was extraordinary, I just never thought of myself as extraordinary as in the sense I wished I was. I knew I was destined for great things, but I simply thought I was not as indelible in people’s mind as others could have been, that is where I was awfully wrong. Nature made me flawed, mortifyingly so even, I was not blessed to be unrealistically smart nor astonishingly beautiful. I am not the type of woman who draws all attention to her, nor would I want to, I liked things in subtlety. That is how I wanted to be remembered, like spring, subtly springing on us.
The secret remains well hidden by the holders of it, those who have managed to be iconic through decades and decades have seemed to never write a book on how to be an actual icon. We have studied their actions, their upbringings, their ability to communicate or to act, we have studied their way of thinking and of challenging the world, we have looked into every book, every documentary, every archive, wondering how they have done it. Fascinated by the power they held in people’s mind, I too, looked into it.
They all have taken some extraordinary actions or said some extraordinary speeches or done some extraordinary changes in the world … but there are also the quiet unforgettable people, the girl with blonde hair and a white dress at the market, looking like she was straight out of a novel, lavender branches in her hands, her straw hat shadowing her eyes as blue as the sea, lost between the vegetable kiosque and the book store. Her, she was unforgettable too. So what was it, about these people that made them so beautifully engraved in one’s mind?
It is by the pond alongside ducks, thinking about the previous conversation that I found the answer to my everlasting question – nothing I would do or would say would be remembered. Plain simple. It had nothing to do with the actions I would fortake or the words I would articulate but it had to do with how people would feel when being around me. That was everything.
How you make others feel counts for much more than anything else you could ever do or say. When I shifted my focus on this, my whole world changed. I no longer had to pressure myself about being interesting enough or smart enough, I only had to focus on what I wanted the other person to feel when they were around me. I stopped worrying about anything else, I wanted people to feel loved, listened to, like they were important like they were extraordinary like their story mattered like their interest sparked as much joy to me as it did to them, I wanted them to feel empowered after talking to me, I wanted them to feel strong and capable of anything, yet serene and calm. So I started feeling like that around them, I embodied everything I wanted them to feel, I became the kind of virus you did not mind getting, I infected people with love. I stopped worrying whether they loved me or not, I pretended as if they did, Byron Katie once said: “When I walk into a room, I know that everyone in it loves me. I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.”, it became my secret weapon, I did not have to fear criticism or overthink every single move, I just had to make sure my intentions were good and they felt good. I also take power in the fact that I am human, and I have no fear of showing it or telling about, I tell people not to trust me yet, to let me gain their trust over time, I laugh at myself a lot, my clumsiness and my mistake are part of what makes me unforgettable. There is a story that the first time Audrey Hepburn met Cary Grant, she was so awfully nervous she spilt red wine all over his beige suit, she was so mortified but Grant laughed it off and so did she afterwards, it then became such an iconic greet that they used it in Love In the Afternoon. I am not proposing for you to spill wine over important people, but I am saying that if you do, you laugh it off with class.
I also used other techniques that truly changed how people approach me and how they feel, first and foremost would be to ask for help or at least to want to know more, people love sharing their skills, showing what they are good at, and you, you do not have to be good at it, take pride into learning something new and watch them blossom into joy as they tell you about it. It is the most powerful tool you have: to be interested.
for what it’s worth,
I think you are unforgettable.
xx your boldest friend.