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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2009 98 “What does it feel like, looking back on your life?” I asked Florence. She peered into her diary. “I love that girl, Lily,” she said. “I love her when she was young and optimistic...” Her voice trailed off. “Self- consciousness has been the biggest curse of my life. It’s like carrying a heavy shell, all the time. Are you that way? Lily, my ad- vice is to get rid of it as fast as you can.” The Red Leather Diary has been read by 150 book clubs and I have traveled with it to more than twenty cities. The paperback came out on January 20, Inauguration Day, which is particularly meaningful to me be- cause I grew up in Hyde Park in Chicago, the neighborhood Obama and his family have called home. At readings, there is al- ways the question, inevitably asked: Was the discovery of the diary fate? Was there a cosmic force at work? Karma? I see it as a physics equation, which I could outline in chalk on a blackboard. In 1929, Florence, a starry-eyed young wom- an, searching for love and meaning, confid- ed her deepest passions and confusions in her diary. In 2003, searching, I came across the Dumpster brimming with trunks and found the diary. Then I picked up her sto- ry where she left off. Who was Florence? Who was I? I believe we wrote our way to each other. Florence recorded on April 10, 1932, “Wrote all day—and my story is still incomplete.” Florence has become a celebrity through my discovery of her teenage diary and we have been doing TV appearances, including The Today Show. “Do you keep a diary now?” a female anchor in a bright-pink suit and lipstick asked Florence. “No.” At ninety-three, Florence said she was happy just breathing and feeling more alive than she had in years. “Should people keep diaries?” asked the anchor. “Absolutely, because it’s a wonderful way to get a perspective on yourself,” said Florence, looking at me, squeezing my hand. “When you read it, you suddenly see yourself from the outside.” If she did keep a diary today, she might write, “Studying Buddhism—taking a life drawing class.” ♦ www.beanproducts.com 1-800 -726-8365 BEAN PRODUCTS Environmentally Friendly, healthy for you and our planet, our products are made utilizing sustainable resources sugh as Organic Cottons, Hemp, Kapok, Buckwheat hulls, Natural Latex and Bamboo.