Over the past several months, several artists and writers we know have expressed great anguish that their work has not been recognized as they think it should be. Equating the recognition of their work with their value as human beings, they judge themselves mercilessly. We understand the need to be “seen, heard, recognized”, and have suffered a good amount of self-judgment ourselves as well.
We’ve learned that there is no way to know how our work will resonate in the future, or IS resonating right now. It is not in our control. True creatives HAVE to make whether they are recognized or not.
A potent symbol of this came via email recently from a friend visiting Holland: a photo of Anne Frank’s diary, above.
During the most dire of circumstances —hiding in a secret annex of an old warehouse during the Holocaust— Frank found her voice in her writing. And somehow, that little diary survived long after she had perished. Her words have been resonating ever since. Some are startlingly uplifting, and some express complex struggle and anguish. The level of wisdom and honesty she expressed is stunning.
I know what I want, I have a goal, an opinion, I have a religion and love. Let me be myself and then I am satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage.
Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
No one has ever become poor by giving.
It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.
Long ago, when we’d worry about where our writing was going, who was seeing it and what would happen, our dear friend and poet, the late Jesse Bernstein would say, simply:
Do your work!
Anne Frank, perhaps unknowingly, did just that.
For more about Anne Frank, visit annefrank.org.