November 18, 2021
I believe I was about 10 or 11 years old when I first read Anne of Green Gables. This was in Gdansk, Poland, where I was born. (I now live in the UK.) I remember being completely captivated by Anne Shirley – by her imagination, her poetic nature, her connection to nature and her gratitude – despite (or because?) the hardships of her earlier life. Most of all, though, it was her striving to be kind and striving to understand others that I think captured my soul.
It was early 90s in Poland in the pre-Internet era, so getting the rest of the books was rather difficult, but my parents were eventually able to find them for me and I remember reading Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars and the rest of the series rather rapidly – devouring the books! I became a bit of a sensation, too; apparently (and puzzling to me certainly at that time), boys didn’t typically wish to read about Anne and her world of imagination, romance and friendships – but suddenly I was chatting to adult female neighbours and my parents’ friends about Anne Shirley!
The impact of Anne on my life is difficult to underestimate. As I read about her teaching career progressing from teaching in the Avonlea school to her position in Summerside in the later books, she became a major inspiration for me to become a teacher – not just because of how she wished to “infect” her pupils with her love of literature, but because of a chance to inspire children to be courteous, kind and truthful. Little surprise then that I had spent about 20 years in the classroom as a teacher in Anne Shirley’s footsteps.
The character of Anne Shirley as described by Lucy Maud, not just in the first book but in the books that followed, is the kind of person I’d like to be, so it is a “no-brainer” to simply say that I have always wanted to be Anne. The values of forgiveness, understanding, kindness, imagination and the love of nature are my ethical world (not that I am all these things, but I am striving!) – and so Anne is part-real / part-fiction to me because I seem to emote and respond to the world in very similar ways.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to write a book about Anne and how she has affected and shaped me: my personal journey with Anne. This book, tentatively called Anne Shirley: A Man’s Role Model, is going to look at the first four books in the series, is to be organised about different themes present throughout them. I am dedicating it to my daughter, who has just turned 6 years old, and who will hopefully read it when she is older. I’ve recently started a blog and a YouTube channel online as well, where I am recording my thoughts and reflection during this author’s journey. Already, it’s proving to be a poignant, introspective experience. I shouldn’t have expected anything less!
Shamelessly, I have made one my rooms at my home my “Anne space”, to be reminded of her values and lessons for life. Megan Follows’ portrayal of Anne is likely as close as anyone will ever get to who Anne in the book pages was, so lots of Megan on the walls there, too!
Anne is quite simply the most inspirational character that I have ever come across – and her influence on me has held strong for the past 30+ years. This influence has been strong enough that it has become a part of me and how I strive to be in the world. It might sound odd to many, but it’s rather obvious and natural to me.
Website: http://www.tenderness-lessons.com/YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUK7LKQze5D6t6YF1ttMQdg
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