Black Swans are not all black —

My twin is on the right --

Growing up, Swan Lake fluttered my heart with dueling emotion.  Although it seemed a necessary lesson in my dance education, it was the one ballet I refused to see growing up.  The music enchanted me; the costumes fascinated me; the story repelled me. It had everything to do with being an identical twin myself, and the idea of a white swan/ black swan rivalry squirmed through my insides, contradicting everything I knew from my own life experience, drowning in comparisons and expectations as the good twin.  My sister, with nary a nefarious bone in her body, earned the title of evil twin, simply because I was a rather goody-goody pleaser, and it pleased people to classify us easily when they could not tell us apart so easily. We resented the stereotype, and lamented that people judged us as a pair instead of as individuals.

Now too well into adulthood, my twin and I have successfully navigated most of the trials of being twins.  We recently went together to see Black Swan, the new movie with Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel, and I have already made a promise to myself to catch the next production of Swan Lake that swims my way.  Without saying much about the movie, except– if it’s on your list, go see it — the movie’s underlying message, that we all contain the black and white inside ourselves, made me realize how I was foolishly following the stereotype myself.  Of course there is black and white swan rivalry onstage – there are 100 year sleeping princesses and dark princes of the underworld and life sized dolls and rats in soldier suits, but I never considered missing a performance of Coppelia or Sleeping Beauty or The Nutcracker.

It’s one of those lessons I think of as  “Water/Fish Wisdom” — an ‘ah-ha, well, duh!’ lesson that should be self-evident, all around us, pervasive and repeated, but easily ignored in every day interaction:  Humans naturally contain a myriad of shades and shadows, light and brightness; it is up to us to color ourselves with compassion and goodness, not primarily by what is inside us — we all have some darkness probably best buried or excavated — but by what we allow to grow, by what we nurture from inside ourselves, to influence and tint the outside world.

I needed the reminder.


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