Whenever I get in a funk I re-visit old stories that I have loved. I look for inspiration, good cheer and often see something new from the vantage point of my current self. When I was younger I marveled at Anne Shirley's creativity and brave spirit, battling the odds of being an "other" in her community. She had fire and I liked it! I tried to put some fire in my life in honor of her, a kind of What Would Anne Do homage. As I got older I was more attracted to the romantic aspect of the story--looking for tips about boys, I suppose. Anne taught me to look around a bit before settling on whatever everyone else thought was fine and proper. Now, having a wonderful partner in my life and having had the good fortune and blessing to have a great professional career to-date, I commiserate and identify with Anne's struggles as she joins the women who "have chosen a profession." The implication is one of having to choose a profession over having a family, following what was traditionally expected of a woman in the 1900s, and ending up what is known as a spinster.
Having found a partner in crime for this life I don't fear turning into a spinster socially at any rate, but perhaps a spinster in my craft. So much of this artistic life is to be malleable, to change, embrace new methods and leave the old behind. But sometimes I just want something stable, Dangit! Or maybe it's a sense of peace and optimism, something the story of Anne of Green Gables, written by L.M. Montgomery, always inspired. Reviewing the story I am present to more of her struggle, having seen a bit more of the world now, and the obstacles both outside and within herself that Anne must overcome to do what she believes is Good.
The character of Anne Shirley says early on in the novel, which is very good as are the other books in the series, that she is in "the depths of despair." Being of a rather melodramatic bent Anne can reflect the times when we've been most down and most willing to be there, swim in it, embrace it. The beauty for me is in Anne's romanticization of her own life. Anne asks Marilla if she has ever been in "the depths of despair." Marilla, a stranger at this point having just discovered that Anne was sent to them by mistake from an orphanage instead of a boy as they requested, responds with, "No, I have not. To despair is to turn your back on God." Her curt response moved me. To keep searching, keep questioning but not to despair completely.
In light of recent events nationally and internationally, with the bombings in Boston and the continued violence in Syria and surrounding countries, as well as some personal--my little sister witnessed an accident involving a speeding motorist and pedestrian--it can be difficult to not despair, to hope for better. And to that I'll respond with a quote Anne says at the end of the film, "I spent my time looking for ideals outside of myself . . . I've discovered it's not what the world holds for you, it's what you bring to it." We as a nation, as a world are NOT these bombings, are NOT these conflicts. What we are cannot be measured and is waiting to express itself in Beauty, Goodness and Light.
© Gisela Chípe
|Gisela Chípe photo taken by Damian Thompson|
p.s. Some great actors in the Kevin Sullivan directed adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables: excellent acting from Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla, Richard Farnsworth as Matthew, and Megan Follows as Anne, with an appearance from Dame Wendy Hiller!