Monday, September 20, 2010

Gift From the Sea

I've met a new friend this week. She is adventurous and interesting and enthralling. Best of all, she reminds me of my Granny, so I can't get enough of her. Anne Morrow Lindbergh died in 2001, but her stories and thoughts stay very much alive through her books, particularly her small book written in 1955, Gift From the Sea.

So for my friend Krista's 40th birthday, I got a beach vacation and Lindbergh's book. That's pretty cool. It makes Gift From the Sea even more compelling to be reading it with my toes in the sand, the surf crashing just a few yards from where I sit. I knew nothing about Anne and her books before being introduced to her through this book. The wife of Charles Lindbergh, Anne was a pioneering aviator in the 1930s, an award-winning and best-selling author, and also raised five children after her first son was tragically kidnapped and killed in 1932.

Gift From the Sea is a short compilation of Lindbergh's thoughts on patterns of living, of balancing life, work, and relationships. It was borne from much contemplation and discussions with other women (and men) and even though she penned this national best seller over fifty years ago, her words continue to resonate with women today.

I love her writing. Even while using words like "diminutive" and "propinquity," I could understand her musings. It comes as no surprise that Lindbergh is a poet, because even in this journal-esque, nonfiction work, her writing is lyrical and poetic. Using different shells as metaphors for life stages, Lindbergh gracefully describes the cycles of a woman's life, of desiring a life of simplicity yet struggling to achieve it, the importance of living in (and appreciating) the moment, the liberation that comes along with growing older, and the discipline of choosing just a few good things from the multitudes offered us.

In response to the post I just wrote on struggling with busyness (written two days before I received this book), I'll close with one of my favorite passages from Gift:
We are asked today to feel compassionately for everyone in the world; to digest intellectually all the information spread out in public print (she had no idea!); and to implement in action every ethical impulse aroused by our hearts and minds. The interrelatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold... modern communication loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance and life span are not as elastic. My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds. 
How did she read my mind? And again, Lindbergh composed this in 1955 - yikes. Timeless questions and contemplations that she doesn't tie up with a pretty bow, doesn't pretend to have all the answers (though she does make some suggestions), but rather encourages the reader's unique response by offering a platform of observations. So get a copy of this treasure of a book, put aside your speed-reading skills, and if you can, digest it while at the beach. Enjoy!