Recommended: Gift from the Sea

W.Ink Recommends > Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea

Recommended: Deep philosophy in simple yet elegant language, AML offers to us the important aspects of life:  not money, not schedules, not harried miscommunication.  Instead, living in the present, loving others more than possessions, taking time for silence and communication:  these are what matters.

Revealed through shells gathered on the beach, AML explores each shell as it represents our lives and reminds us to be grateful for what life offers.

Snippets from the book:

The Beach

Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic schedules of city and suburbs, timetables and schedules.  One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone.  One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies flattened by the sea:  bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings. (16)

Channeled Whelk

I want first of all . . . to be at peace with myself.  I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry these obligations (husband, family, home, work, friends & community). (page 23)

Grace: an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony.  I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be at one.” (page 23)

Moon Shell

Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the spaces with continuous music, matter, and companionship to which we do not even listen.  It is simply there to fill the vacuum.  When the noise stops, there is no inner music to take its place.  We must re-learn to be alone. (page 42)

When one is a stranger to oneself, then one is estranged from others, too. (page 44)

Solitude, says the moon shell.  Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day. . . . [T]hese are among the most important times in one’s life—when one is alone. (page 49-50)

Double Sunrise

For the first part of every relationship is pure, whether it be with friend or lover, husband or child.  It is pure, simple, and unencumbered. . . .  And then how swiftly, how inevitably the perfect unity is invaded:  the relationship changes;  it becomes complicated, encumbered by its contact with the world . . . [and] somehow we mistakenly feel that failure to maintain its exact original pattern is tragedy. (65-66)

In a growing relationship, however, the original essence is not lost but merely buried under the impedimentia of life.  The core of reality is still there, and needs only to be uncovered and re-affirmed. (69-70)

Oyster Bed

I am very fond of the oyster’s shell.  It is horrid and awkward and ugly.  It is slate-colored and unsymmetrical.  Its form is not primarily beautiful but functional.  I make fun of its knobbiness.  Sometimes I resent its burdens and excrescences.  But its timeless adaptability and tenacity draw my astonished admiration and sometimes even my tears. (83)

Instead of facing them (difficult seasons of life or work, relationships or health), one runs away;  one escapes—into depressions, nervous breakdowns, drink, love affairs, or frantic, thoughtless, fruitless overwork.  Anything, rather than face them.  Anything, rather than stand still and learn from them.  One tries to cure the signs of growth, to exorcise them, as if they were devils, when really they might be angels of annunciation. (87-88)

Argonauta (Paper Nautilus)

Saint Exupéry: “The life of the spirit, the veritable life, is intermittent and only the life of the mind is constant. . . .  The spirit . . . alternates between total vision and absolute blindness. . . .  Here is a man who loves music—but there are moments when it cannot reach him.” (107-108)

We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity—in freedom. (108)

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping even.  Security in a relationship lies . . . in living in the present and accepting it as it is now. . . .  One must accept the security of the wingéd life, of ebb and flow, of intermittency. (109)

A Few Shells

Here (on this island) there is time:  time to be quiet;  time to work without pressure;  time to think. . . time to look at stars or to study a shell;  time to see friends, to gossip, to laugh, to talk.  Time, even, not to talk. . . .  Then communication becomes communion, and one is nourished as one never is by words.  (116)

The Beach at my Back

If we stop to think about it, are not the real casualties in modern life just these centers:  the here, the now, the individual and his relationships.  The present is passed over in the race for the future;  the here is neglected in favor of the there, and the individual is dwarfed by the enormity of the mass. (126)

Family, now, here:  “The basic substance of life . . . .  We may neglect these elements, but we cannot dispense with them.  They are the drops that make up the streams.  They are the essence of life itself.”  (127-128)

Gift from the Sea Re-Opened

It takes time to find the re-center of gravity. (134)

Much of this exploration and new awareness is uncomfortable and painful for both men and women.  Growth in awareness has always been painful.  But it does lead to greater independence and, eventually, cooperation in action. (138)

Available here.

We recommend a slow read, one chapter a week.  This tiny book is packed with concept that must be mulled over, considered, then applied to our lives.