© 2014 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
I love FaceBook! It has literally created changes in my life. Through FaceBook, I have been re-introduced to people from many different times of my life. My high school ballet mates and ballet teacher, a sister’s old boyfriend, my high school boyfriend, a woman who created a lucrative business with feather ornaments—each left impressions as our lives overlapped. From college days, two particular women I knew at Vassar inspired me in ways they never knew. One has become prominent and the other very famous. I recently relocated the first in a roundabout way, through FaceBook. Her name is Suzanne Palmer Dougan. The other is everywhere in the media. Her name is Meryl Streep.
I met Suzanne Palmer (now Dougan) through a friend, and then ran into Suzanne in the Vassar Theater Department. I was a freshman taking Theater 101. Suzanne was beautiful and had a stunning smile. She was energetic, vibrant, passionate, and creative. She never seemed to sit down. One week, Suzanne asked me if I would sub for her, doing moving set crew for a play. She wanted to take the weekend off for a special trip, and there were several performances for which she would have had to be onstage.
I was excited to agree! I would have an amazing experience while she pursued one of her non-theater passions. One of my jobs was to “blow up the Parthenon”, using a white-exhaust fire extinguisher behind a model of the Parthenon. At other points in the show, I made other things appear from behind painted panels portraying ancient Athens. Suzanne had designed and painted a great deal of that set. She gave me gifts of a lifetime, modelling joyful passion and giving me the set crew experience.
Two years later, she went to Yale Drama School, a high honor. Now I know that she found her soulmate through her passion for theater, and she is now married with a grown son at Yale. She is also now a professor of theater at Amherst College.
You do something good now, and you’re not always around to see the difference it makes later.
–Leroy Jethro Gibbs, comforting Abby, NCIS
The same play in which I blew up the Parthenon was actually Meryl Streep’s senior play. But I didn’t put that together at the time. I met her in the costume shop, since I was required to do 12 hours a week of costume crew that semester. The director had asked Meryl to bring in bikini panties and a bra, to have a bird-theme costume built onto. In that play, she was to portray “Peace”, dressed in a bird-clad bikini, coming down center stage doing hip pops. Meryl was the selfless soul of focus. She had a quiet manner. In the costume shop, after introducing herself to the costume mistress, she asked where she should stand. She put on the pieces and the costume mistress proceeded to attach feathers. Meryl made herself totally available to the moment and to the staff who needed to do their jobs. I saw her absolute commitment to Getting It Right in other moments, too. She changed me with that commitment, with her quietude, and with her intense focus.
Meryl Streep went on to Yale Drama School several months later. And several years after that, she starred in the movie, Sophie’s Choice. The world was astonished by her performance. I wasn’t. I had seen her egoless, intense focus and her incredible work ethic.
These two powerful, amazing women affected me deeply, infusing me with images of what is important in how we live our lives. Each was simply living as she saw best, not meaning to be a role model. Neither ever knew how they affected me, but their influence was powerful.
Occasionally, people tell me that I have inspired them in some way. Probably you have inspired others, and often, in ways and times you never knew. We need to live our lives by our values and passions, each be our unique selves, and let the right people be uplifted by who we are. Who knows what greatness we may each inspire?
● Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition (http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc). She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister.
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