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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2009 55 novel, and filled up diaries. I wrote in journals, in the margins of my class notes, on the subway, in my room on my laptop. I wrote when I was happy, nostalgic, lonely, and between books. I wrote a screenplay for my thesis. I kept on waking up with this empty feeling: Who am I? Do I have anything to contribute? I wrote from that feeling of emptiness. While lonely at times, I recognized the potential of being like an empty vessel. I was looking for love, meaning in my life, and a good story. After graduating, I landed a job at the New York Times as a news clerk by day, celebrity reporter by night. “Bravest Gossip Reporter Ever” the media site Gawker called me when James Gandolfini asked me out on a date. But I wasn’t really interested in the celebrities I was covering. I flew to the Netherlands to interview Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I studied with and wrote an article about an eighty-three-year- old Japanese sumi-e master who had learned the ancient art form in an internment camp and who was now teaching classes in her dusty studio nestled between the designer boutiques of SoHo. While working on my novel, I stumbled upon the magical gem of the diary. Where do we record our inner lives? I wondered. What windows do we have into the human soul? Do teenagers keep diaries anymore? The diary led me to find real meaning in our youth-obsessed, celebrity-crazed, materialistic culture, and led me to connect with a like-minded spirit across time. You can think of a diary as a record of the Buddhist notion of impermanence. All things and experiences are ever changing. We are constantly coming into being and ceasing to be. Nothing lasts. WHEN FLORENCE held her diary again after all those years, she caressed its fragile cover with hands still supple enough to practice scales daily on the piano. Gently thumbing through the pages, she sat by the window and journeyed back to the girl she had once been. “I’m fourteen years old! 1929!” she read in a husky voice. Then Above: Florence at home in Pompano Beach; reading from the diary with granddaughters. Right: at a book launch party with Lily. “Lily and her new grandmother,” Florence said, as a photo was taken. “You’ve brought back my life.” ➢ page 95 MICHAELWEBBER novel, and filled up diaries. I wrote in journals, in the margins of Above: Florence at home in Pompano Beach; reading from the diary with granddaughters. Right: at a book launch party with Lily. MICHAELWEBBER