I had a slim opportunity to visit Amsterdam recently. Just the mention of the syllables that make "Amsterdam" bring to mind two dominant memories - one is a fleeting visit with my parents when I was barely old enough to register more sophisticated memories than feelings of "cold" and "new", and the other is of course, Anne Frank. Anne Frank was in my thoughts almost all the time, so I decided to reread her poignant diary. I was mildly interested to know if the diary read differently to me, now that I am much more older than I first read it. But surprisingly, I could relate to it much more this time.
There are no words to describe the mix of emotions I went through while reading the diary as it slowly progressed and matured. The ramblings and rantings in my own journal have the same quality of alternating despair and enthusiasm as hers, except Anne matured and grew up so very beautifully and wisely, and her writings have such heart-breaking insights that the words twist my heart every time I read them. Her experiences highlight, yet again, the stark extremes of humanity - touching kindness and ruthless cruelty; petty materialism and progressive open-mindedness; steely determination and fragile will-power. Anne's witty and clever observations keep ringing in my head. I believe that it was her undying hope and positivity that eventually brought a sliver of her dreams to fruition. Her determination to be a successful writer who would be fondly remembered, has indeed come true.
How wise was she to have written such touchingly beautiful thoughts at an age when my diary was filled with narcissistic angst -
"At such moments I don't think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. This is where Mother and I differ greatly. Her advice in the face of melancholy is: "Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you're not part of it." My advice is: "Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy."
"I don't think Mother's advice can be right, because what are you supposed to do if you become part of the suffering? You'd be completely lost. On the contrary, beauty remains, even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance. A person who's happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!"
One can only hope that her bright and positive attitude helped her get through her harrowing times at the concentration camp. It's a good lesson and reminder to stay happy and discover beauty at all times.
If you haven't read her diary, I would urge you to read it. Yes, it's sad and tragic, but also immeasurably inspiring and touching.