What if you could live forever?
It only happens in fiction. We all know that death is the only thing we can truly count on in this life. Some people say taxes, but if you look at the daily news, you can see that a lot of very wealthy people and corporations manage to squeak out of that one. But death? Yeah. Nobody’s found a way out of that one yet.
Except that art lives on.
I’m currently acting in a production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. This piece is familiar to most everyone; we all know the story, and how it ends. When I was asked to play the part of Mrs. Frank, Anne’s mother, I was hesitant. Did I want to spend nearly two months living in an attic waiting for World War II to end my life? But a dear friend had asked me, so I said yes. I’m very glad I did.
Although the story is crushingly sad, it opened my eyes to many things, as only great art can do. I was reminded of the humanity in all of us, the flaws and the wonders of daily life. We have great faith that when we flip a switch, the lights will come on, or that when we step into a grocery store, we’ll be able to buy all the food we need or want. This play made me realize that those things are not there for everyone all the time.
Anne’s words, heartfelt and true, have lasted. They weren’t intended to be great, or timeless; they were simply an expression of honesty, the raw recording of the life of a typical teenaged girl in a thankfully atypical circumstance. That was my second lesson. Writing, when true and honest, lasts forever. Anne’s diary appeals to people not because it is elegant or worldly, but because it is neither of those things. It is the transmutation of humanity into words.
As writers, we are really striving for honesty and truth, whether through fiction or some other mode. We want to tell a story that resonates, that speaks to someone else, that confirms that we are not alone. It is a cry for comfort, a candle lit in a dark room that will draw some other soul forward and into its circle of illumination. I believe this is why we all write; we want someone to hear us.
Books throughout history have fulfilled this need to connect people to each other. We read because it is the only way to truly step into someone else’s shoes, to take a peek into another mind. In doing this, we feel less alone. In writing, we reach out to others and hope for a connection.
I am thankful for the words of Anne Frank. She has lived on because she had made a connection to many, many other people and because of this, she is immortal. I can only hope that I may do the same.