The other night I had the good fortune of scoring a pass to a very special event: A book launch event for Agapi Stassinopoulos’s Unbinding the Heart: A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity, And Unconditional Love. Agapi, of course, is Arianna Huffington’s baby sister, and the two of them joined none other than Deepak Chopra on stage for what an intimate and lovely evening at ABC Carpet & Home in Manhattan.
Why Deepak? Turns out he not only has known the two sisters for 20+ years, but was close to their mother Elli, a powerful influence for not just her two daughters but the many who knew her (Elli apparently stood down Nazi soldiers at one point. Tough broad). (Read more about Arianna’s relationship with her mother in this story in Success magazine)
(It was even stranger to see Arianna days after she was spoofed on SNL: Check out Arianna’s “appearance” on Weekend Update with Seth Myers.)
Agapi, however, was clearly the star of this show–and she really owned it when, at the spontaneous invitation of Deepak, she stood up and delivered Jocasta’s monologue from Oedipus–COLD, mind you. Not a single stumble. She was absolutely gripping. You wouldn’t forget her after that for sure.
Agapi and Arianna shared stories of their mother Elli, and got quite personal, sharing their mother’s heartbreak at their father’s endless philandering (and her powerful forgiveness of him in the end), and of their mother’s last day. Arianna became weepy several times, allowing Agapi to finish the stories, which she did with flourish.
And while you, like me, may have scratched your head at some of Deepak’s written works (it does get heady at times), the man himself truly couldn’t be more warm and playful and personable. And, dare I say, adorable? With his patent black clogs and thick black frames with bling on the sides? I wanted to hug him (but I didn’t get the chance). The three of them created a lovely dynamic, and there was as much laughing as there was were truly moving moments.
I had never, for instance, thought of Arianna Huffington as a person before (as opposed to a “force”)–and definitely not as a young Greek girl who, seeing a picture of Cambridge in England, said, “I want to go there.” And when other people told her it was not going to happen, her mother borrowed money to take her daughter there to check it out. It’s so sweet to think of a young Arianna walking around Cambridge with her mother, wondering if she could make a life for herself there. Which, of course, she did.
When, later, an audience member asked how they all had learned to trust themselves, Arianna shared some personal insight into her long affair with one of the loves of her life and greatest mentors, Bernard Levin, and how, when she knew he would never have children with her, and she wanted to raise a family, didn’t trust herself to stay away–so she left London altogether. And if she hadn’t done that, of course, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
“In life, the things that go wrong open doors for the things that go right,” she said.
Showing up to this was without question the best decision of my day.
(Special thanks to Beth Grossman!!)