Picturesque canals, charming architecture, tulips galore and waffles-to-go, Amsterdam is a beautiful place to visit. I reread The Diary of Anne Frank in anticipation of my trip. We’ve all read it (if you haven’t, do!), and clearly, the young girl’s story resonates across cultures, languages and time, as evidenced by the long, winding line outside her WWII hiding-place-turned-museum.
Every girl identifies with Anne, and I am no exception. The pictures of movie stars on her bedroom wall reminded me of my own room growing up. Her dream to become a prolific writer, I also share. But what remains aspirational about the 14-year-old Anne, was her vibrant optimism, her ability to see the sun, if only through a mirror’s reflection, and to, despite the news and growing danger, hold fast in her belief that people are good, and that good would not only come, but triumph. How many of us, much older, can boast such clarity, courage and strength, though our trials are thankfully, much less severe?
Their Would Haves are our Opportunities
Numerous notebooks and stacks of pages lay in the museum, miraculously spared, collected and preserved. These handwritten pages became Anne’s dream-come-true. Deliberately crafted with care, I marveled over her even script and draft rewrites. She didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but she began writing anyway.
Since my visit to her Huis, Anne, and the many other Annes who don’t have museums, frequent my thoughts. Their chances to live their dreams or simply breathe fresh air were stolen. But our chances are now; their would haves are our opportunities. This takeaway has inspired the smallest moments from walking my dog, to resurrecting this blog. Long neglected goals continue to call for reasons we may not understand. We may never know the next step or for whom our work is meant; we don’t have to.
Framed Pictures Reframe Today
There is a photograph of Otto Frank returning to the Secret Annex after the war. Of the eight who hid there, only he survived. Chilling, in this photo, it’s as though we can see what he sees—the memories, faces and fates. I imagine my grandparents, also survivors, experienced moments like his when they returned to Hungary after the war to empty neighborhoods. And yet, from that place arose the greatest generation.
Hopefulness requires courage. The essential steps of lifting one’s eyes, trying again, building and striving to create a life, a family, a country; to unite with others, have faith, let go, and smile, all evidence that happiness is positively brave.
In Europe, every cobblestone stands witness. Now on city streets and squares, plaques stand where people stood. Were the year different, my shoes might be theirs.
Several co-travelers opted not to visit the Anne Frank Huis. They thought it would be too depressing. They were mistaken! The Anne Frank Huis inspired a way to vanquish whatever gloom dares darken our view! It also beckons with the promise of partnership: in converting their would haves to our opportunities, we help them live, elevate their holy souls, and engage in a level of mind-full living that ensures their memories are truly blessings, forever illuminating the everyday fortunes we might otherwise miss.
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