Friday, March 02, 2007
It's in the eyes
NEW YORK -- I was star struck this week.
I came to New York for a board meeting for a professional organization in which I serve, I saw two very renowned journalists -- Mike Wallace at Penn Station, and Christiane Amanpour. Amanpour was the speaker at a scholarship banquet and was charged with inspiring the students who aspire to be journalists.
I hate to admit that it's rare to be ignited and inspired halfway into life about career. It's even scarier when the beacon of truth inside is in danger of being lost.
Once I became a professional, I didn't think I would continue to be captivated by renowned journalists. I actually think it's nice that although the years in this uncertain industry have left me jaded, the trailblazers still display that passion that originally settled inside each journalist in the early years.
I once worked for the same newspaper as Molly Ivins, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
I met her only once really, as she was based out of Austin and I was in Fort Worth. She was a very big and robust woman with the reddest hair I believe I had ever seen. A true Texan, she was humble and seemed to enjoy the brief conversation with the kid I was, barely in my 30s then. She still had that wonder in her eyes, whiskey and vinegar in that blood.
So when I saw Wallace at Penn Station on Thursday, I didn't want to say anything,I just wanted to look at him, watch his movements and demeanor. He seems to ooze conviction. I really didn't want to bother him. He noticed anyway -- I got a wink from the man with bright eyes and brilliantly leather skin. It was sweet.
That evening, a ballroom full of student journalists and professionals heard Amanpour speak at this banquet to honor scholarship recipients. Her passion is noticeable, her story interesting, no doubt. The way she explains her life, saying she came from a "privileged" family in Iran sounds like a riches to rags to riches story.
She said she and her family lost everything and had to flee Iran in the Islamic revolution of the 1970s. It appears that experience made her discover her humanity, and what she is today. She was inspired to be curious, ask questions, tell stories.
She did a little inspiring, too, as did many other colleagues that night, including my pal Sammy.
In a taxicab ride after the program, my friends and colleagues Elizabeth and Margarita and I talked about the speech. We agreed Amanpour has led an interesting life, certainly on the edge. We also debated -- as all journalists do -- about the whole "privileged" admission.
Margarita reminded us that everyone has a story of struggle and how instances of extreme loss can alter a person, change everything about who they are.
I know I pursued this career to make a difference. It still feels honorable. I may not land in career brilliance like Ivins, Wallace or Amanpour did, but I keep company with inspiration and motivation.
I am glad to say most of my colleagues still have that light in their eyes, as you can see. I hope I can keep mine for a very long time.
P.S. Damn, I didn't workout once!