Today is one of my hero's birthdays, Anne Frank. A fellow Gemini who captured my heart since I was 8 years old and first learned about the Holocaust in my 4th grade class in Verona, Wisconsin. Anne's story resonated with me so much that I somehow snuck a copy of Schindler's List out from the library and waited until my parents were out of the house one day to watch it by myself. That was a turning point in how I looked at the world.
I always knew people were having different experiences than my own due to my Dad's job (he was a college basketball coach). When they weren't playing ball, my mom usually had my dad's players over to our house to either babysit us for extra money or for a home cooked meal. Most of these young men playing basketball (majority were on scholarship) came from all walks of life. Tough upbringings that my Dad would share with us when he talked about recruiting.
But it wasn't until I met Anne one fateful day in 1998 via book that I really connected with someone (my own age too!) who was writing such poetry in one of the most difficult experiences that a human could go through. That's when I felt a fire ignite within myself. A fire that has led me to South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Poland, Cambodia, and finally - Anact so that I could understand humanity. I actually thought about NOT sharing this worrying it might be too "deep" but then I thought - I don't want to hide pieces of my own human experience and moments that have sculpted my life anymore.
I tried to visit the Annex when I was in Amsterdam in 2016 but it was closed the day that I was there so I took a photo instead and vowed to go back. I've tried to hide this piece of myself that wants to break down and cry each time I see humans treat one another poorly but I don't believe it's what I was called to do. So if you're reading this, this is meant for you to know and hear. I'd rather spend my Saturday night paying homage to extraordinary beings like Anne than be drinking booze to numb out from the reality of the human condition. I'd rather be watching documentaries learning about what others have gone through so I can be better at holding space for the pain they carry. I'd rather put all of my energy towards understanding what is my responsibility to give back to humanity while I'm on this planet then have one more conversation that is created by the culture.
I don't know why I am this way (my family wonders too) but it is what it is - God makes no mistakes. When I don't share what is in my heart then that's when I feel disconnected from who I am and from others and that feels AWFUL. And with that, I leave you with two of my all-time favorite Anne quotes. Here's to you Anne. May I show the same courage in life that you showed through your incredibly short lived life. May we all.
"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." - Anne Frank
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank