“The Magic Bottle”
“Once upon a time there was a popular interior designer, Jean Louis. He had an eye for beauty, and because of it found some of the most distinguished accent pieces for his clients in places most people would abhor being caught inside. On top of his list of frequent stops were obscure flea markets filled with other people’s discarded junk and cluttered estate sales hosted by family members eager to be rid of the material remains of relatives who passed away. Since Jean Louis’s mother sold antiques, he was raised to find the golden needle in the haystack of stuff. His heart filled with joy when he found a valuable item unrecognized by the seller, and Jean Louis gleefully accepted the role of negotiator. Watching him was like watching the graceful movements of an illusionist. You had to look for the deliberate steps he took; otherwise you would miss his crafty manipulation, which led the sellers to believe they took advantage of him. It was not unusual for the seller to be in tow as he walked to his car, thanking him profusely — a culmination of guilt and relief. The fact that the seller had nothing to feel bad about was the secret Jean Louis carried all the way to the bank.
One rainy Friday afternoon, Jean Louis’s life took a different direction. The day started off similar to most days in the life of Jean Louis’s, consumed with work. The task at hand was searching for an ornate chest to accent the décor of a room he designed for the Atlanta Tour of Homes. Since there was not enough time to refinish a hidden gem he could steal from an unwitting, unsophisticated seller, he went where he was guaranteed to find what he needed. He made his way to an area of town that hosted many upscale antique shops that ran side by side for blocks. He walked in and out of each store until he found what he was looking for, an ornate chest. On top of the chest sat a dingy bottle. Surrounded by well-preserved, clean, beautiful collections from the past, the bottle appeared out of place and surely not a complement to the ornate chest it rested on. When he went to move the bottle from the chest he was ready to buy, the price tag caught his attention. Though he was not the least bit interested in the bottle, he was curious about its history, since the price insinuated an interesting past. He asked the clerk, ‘Why is this bottle so expensive? Did it belong to someone famous?’
The clerk responded, ‘The bottle belonged to a young king who lost his kingdom, but that is not why it is so pricey. What makes it so valuable is what is inside. The bottle contains energy. All you need to do is give the energy an order, and it will perform whatever task you wish of it.’
A magic bottle! Jean Louis was delighted. He had said to his beloved the day before that he wished there were two of him. Now he had a solution to his daily grind of too much to do in too little time. Without further regard to its price or history, he said, ‘I’ll buy it!’
The clerk was quick to respond, ‘I must warn you. Never let the energy out of the bottle if you are uncertain about what you want it to accomplish. You must always direct it carefully. If you remember nothing more, whatever you do, never leave the lid off, if you have not given it precise orders.’
Jean Louis was already lost in his head with all the ideas he had for the bottle and how the extra energy could help him create the life of his dreams. He felt as if he had won the lottery. What the clerk was talking on about was no longer his concern. The only regard he had for what she said was she was a fool to think for a second he’d waste any of the precious energy inside the bottle. He knew he would always find something constructive for it to do. A normally solemn man, he left the store with the bottle in hand and his lips curled in a smile he could not contain.
True to the shop clerk’s word, without fail or complaint, the extra energy did everything he asked of it in the six months that he owned the bottle. As a result, each succeeding month, his income nearly doubled from the prior month. Jean Louis found his mood light and cheerful for the first time in a long time. He was thrilled by how much he could get done with the aid of the extra energy in the bottle. It followed the list he methodically prepared for it daily. Jean Louis was realizing his dreams of financial success as well as the time to enjoy his accumulating wealth. That’s not all. On top of his skyrocketing income, he became regarded as one of the most sought-after designers. The recognition was not limited to his native state of Georgia, either. The calls he received included the personal assistants of some of the most prominent entertainment icons in Hollywood. He went to bed each night thinking, ‘If I don’t wake up in the morning, I will have died a happy man.’
He had an interview scheduled in Los Angeles to design a second home for an up-and-coming Hollywood actress. Since it had been well over two years since Jean Louis had taken time off, the tail end of the business trip would be a perfect way to accommodate a vacation with his beloved, who had waited patiently. Now that he was able to accomplish so much more with the aid of the energy in the bottle, Jean Louis could finally make good on his promise that they would get away as soon as he found the time.
He decided the bottle needed a break, too, because the minute he returned, his workload would be overwhelming. On top of an already full schedule, he would be traveling to L.A. In his rush to leave, though, he forgot to put the lid on the bottle. He remembered while he was lying on a beach thousands of miles away sipping on a sugary beach drink. The thought left his mind as fast as it came. He didn’t think too much about it, because the bottle always cooperated. In Jean Louis’s mind there was no reason to worry. He thought the shop clerk, like most women, overreacted with her nearly hysteric warning.
When he returned, all tanned and refreshed, he hailed a cab to take him home from the airport, but when he got to his street, his house was gone. Only ashes and remnants of charred lumber remained. What happened? When he got out of the cab, he searched around dumbfounded, and then he saw it — the bottle. It was on the ground fully intact, with its lid several inches away. His mind flashed back to when he was lying on the beach, unconcerned about the open bottle of energy, because he trusted it. Furious, he picked it up and smashed it to the ground. Next he went straight to the shop where he bought it. He threw the door open with such force that everyone inside looked his way. As soon as he made eye contact with the clerk who sold him the bottle, he screamed at her, ‘Your bottle has ruined me! While I was on vacation, the energy in the bottle set my home on fire.’
The shopkeeper looked at him with disgust. ‘You fool, I warned you. Don’t you know energy creates as well as it destroys? I told you never to leave it unattended.’
Haven’t we all had similar moments when we look at life in disbelief and wonder, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ Unraveling the mystery starts with what gets our attention, and more often than not, it is the loss of something meaningful.”
Excerpt from Sofia A. Wellman’s, If The Shoe Fits, Go Barefoot.