Dear Lucy Maud Montgomery,
For my sisters and me, it was the summer of Anne. It was the summer of marathon sessions of reading, mini-series watching, and Anne-discussing. It was the summer I wrote stories about Annes children, bought an Anne license plate, and decided I wanted to live on Prince Edward Island- Annes home. Lucy Maud Montgomery, I love your books. Anne of Green Gables and the seven books that follow are gems. Anne not only became my kindred spirit, she taught me how to be a kindred spirit to my friends and even myself.
In Anne of Green Gables, there is a place for everyone. There is a place for stern, emotion-concealing Marilla; for shy, laconic Matthew; and for Annes relatively plain but kind-hearted side-kick, Diana. And, undoubtedly, there is a place for imaginative, romantic, dramatic Anne Shirley. One of the things that makes Anne of Green Gables so charming and wholesome is that all of these people find kindred spirits not by trying to fit a certain mold, but by being themselves. Anne is able to acquire many close friends because people admire and love her quirky personality. As I read Anne, I thought about my friends. I realized that my kindred spirits come from times when I was confident and comfortable with myself. Embracing my personality caused others to do the same. When Ive tried to be like others to fit in, it results in superficial friendships that fizzle out quickly. Anne showed me the importance of being myself and finding the most treasured thing in the world, kindred spirits.
At one point in Anne of Avonlea (the second Anne book), Anne finds herself hanging from a shed in rain, with her torso on the roof and her legs through the ceiling. She makes the best of the situation by singing and chatting with her friend Diana. I laughed over this incident, but then I started to wonder how much I laugh over my own mistakes and embarrassing moments. Often, I take mistakes and failure too seriously; Anne taught me to lighten up. In the Anne books, you present sad and regular situations with humor. This showed me to find the humor in everything, too. After reading Anne, I began to wish for embarrassing situations to occur so I could laugh over them with my kindred spirits. Anne definitely has her share of failures. Once, she sends her prized story into a magazine, and it does not get published. Of course, this does not prevent her from later publishing lots of poems and stories, becoming a teacher, graduating from college, marrying the man of her dreams, raising six wonderful children, and finding many kindred spirits. Reading the entire Anne saga put life into perspective. Failure is temporary; it will be alright in the end. I may lose the cross country race, not make the soccer team, or bomb my math test, but in a couple of chapters, it won't matter.
I've never really considered myself a judgmental person, but reading Anne caused me to question this. I often label people as non-friends too quickly. After one rude comment, or a couple annoying gestures, I rule them out. I quit making an effort to be their friend. In Anne of Windy Poplars (the fourth Anne book), Anne continuously reaches out to Catherine Brooks, who is easily the most sullen, depressed, and negative person Ive ever met, fictional or otherwise. Catherine hates her job as a teacher and everyone she meets. I became increasingly annoyed at Anne as the book went on. "Give up, Anne," I thought. "Why are you still trying to become her friend? Shes obviously a permanent grouch." But by the end of the book, Anne had proved me wrong. She dug the kindred spirit out of Catherine, and the two became the best of friends. I began to wonder how many kindred spirits Id missed because I labeled them to quickly. I began to watch myself. I strove to find good in everyone and everything. I tried to see the world through Annes eyes, where everyone has the potential to be a kindred spirit.
The summer of Anne is over now. But the books and Anne license plate remain on my bedroom bookshelf. When I read the Anne books, Anne not only became my kindred spirit, she showed me how to be one.