Enlightened Conflict

as I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge

May 6th, 2014

audrey hepburn eyes


“Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you’re exactly the same.”

Audrey Hepburn





Audrey Hepburn, who died at 63, would have been 85 this past Sunday if she had lived <born may 4th 1929 in Belgium>.


Most people know Hepburn for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But after her movie career she was an active ambassador for UNICEF.


Hepburn exuded elegance.

At any age – young & older.




I have no idea why I decided to sit down and write about Audrey Hepburn. I didn’t know the woman. I didn’t particularly like any of her movies. But yet … I know that every time I see a picture of her I stop … not just to look … but for some odd reason I think.


And forgive me … but whatever it is about Audrey … it is something I struggle to put a thought or finger on.

Its there … and it is always there … just on the tip of my tongue or the edge of my mind or sometimes even something that seems to slip in and out of the side of my vision.


audrey hepburn smilePart of it is … well … she seemed beautifully imperfect.

An amalgamation of imperfections and flaws wrapped up in what appeared to be a sincerely relentless strength of character.


I can honestly say she is one of the few people from the past who I think I would have liked to have met. I think I would have not only liked her … but I think I would have respected her. I think she would have lived up to the bar of expectations … the sometimes absurd level of hope & expectations we place on famous people.



“She had everything I was looking for: charm, innocence, and talent. She also was very funny. She was absolutely enchanting.”  – producer for the play GiGi



She was lovely, adorable, sweet and charming … and spoke several languages including English, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and German. And if a true test of character is what a child says about their parents … you should read or hear whatever her son says about her.




And that character of hers.


Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

My favorite story I have ever heard about Hepburn.


Apparently Truman Capote <whose writings Breakfast is based on> thought that Hepburn was ‘grossly miscast’ as Holly Golightly.

And I imagine he was correct because the Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly was adapted from the original.




“Because I can’t play a hooker” she admitted to the producer of the film.



She was stunningly attractive … in an imperfect way.

As she called it … a good mixture of defects.audrey hepburn perfect imprefcet



Hepburn’s iconic look was what she thought of as “a good mixture of defects.” She thought she had a big nose and big feet, and she was too skinny and not enough breast. She would look in the mirror and say, ‘I don’t understand why people see me as beautiful.’

Audrey Hepburn’s son Luca Dotti



I think it should remind us that imperfections well embraced exude character.


Imperfections well used exude character … and elegance <not awkwardness>.


Imperfections well accepted become perfections.


And within all of this imperfect perfectness … she also somehow exuded … well … humanness. Maybe the better word is … some sense of being relatable.

She never seemed to step down from the unattainable clouds to bless us with her presence … somehow she seemed to be already among us … beautifully unnoticed.


audrey hepburn look busMaybe she was able to do this because she didn’t live a perfect life … but never dwelled on the imperfections Life dealt her.


In one interview Hepburn spoke about growing up during World War 2:


“I have memories. More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on to the train. I was a child observing a child.”



She also occasionally acted as a courier for the resistance delivering messages and packages.


And … during the war … Hepburn, who was a talented ballet dancer, secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance.



“The best audience I ever had made not a single sound at the end of my performances.”

Audrey Hepburn


This is from a woman who at the pinnacle of her fame was applauded on the streets.

Ladies & gentlemen readers … this is called ‘perspective.’


Fame has a tendency to warp perspective.

It didn’t seem like it did for her.


She said she lived life unconditionally. And she did … and didn’t.

Her love life certainly wasn’t perfect … and her own self esteem seemed to wander into some dark places on occasion.



She worked hard to be the best she could be … but she never talked about how audrey hepburn 86hard she worked.

She just did it.


My sense is she always showed up … she always did things … always did what she thought was right … and let the chips fall as they may.




I apologize because I typically try and make some point when I share my thoughts.

But even though I am writing about things that I think should matter to us … I still haven’t figured out the elusive ‘thought’ that Audrey Hepburn seems to capture.


I admit I loved her attitude toward life:


“I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it.”

Audrey Hepburn



I admit I loved the blend of her style and her demeanor.


I admit I loved her beauty because she embraced a fantastic sense of audrey hepburn tomboytomboyishness lady elegance <yikes … figure out how to do that ladies>.


I admit that I loved what I perceived she had … that Audrey had something so lacking in the world today … a combination of classy accessibleness.

Or maybe she felt above us and yet among us.


I admit that whatever it was … whatever she ‘had’ … she exuded it.


I struggle to believe we ever <and on this I truly mean ever> see the likes of the tomboyishly elegantly lovely Audrey Hepburn again.


And that is surely our loss.




After her death … Gregory Peck went on camera and, very emotionally, recited her favorite poem “Unending Love” by Rabindranath Tagore.


It is a truly perfectly lovely poem for an imperfectly lovely lady.



“If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough.”

Audrey Hepburn



Gregory Peck video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL_yVhwxCSY


The Poem:



Unending Love


I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…

In life after life, in age after age, forever.

My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,

That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,

In life after life, in age after age, forever.


Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,

Its ancient tale of being apart or together.

As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,

Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:

You become an image of what is remembered forever.


You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.

At the heart of time, love of one for another.

We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same

Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-

Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.


Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you

The love of all man’s days both past and forever:

Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.

The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –

And the songs of every poet past and forever.audrey hepburn



Rabindranath Tagore.

Enlightened Conflict