Two weeks on the beach with Anne

18 Sep

This week I finished a book loaned to me by my friend at work. It’s called A Gift from the Sea, written my Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles Lindbergh. It was first published in 1955 and a best seller at the time, but reading it, I would have never guessed it.

Anne (we’re on a first name basis) was a rockstar. She had a pilot’s license, lived in Europe for a while, served as an ambassador, raised kids, wrote books…  Her Wikipedia page says her mom, Elizabeth, got her into reading and writing early.

“Every night, Elizabeth would stop chores and read to her children for an hour. Eventually, each child learned to read and write; the practice was eventually replaced by the children reading to themselves and writing poetry and diaries.”

I digress. Gift form the Sea is a short meditation, self-helpy type of book. Usually I prefer novels, but I figure every once in a while I should at least try some advice/improvement/meditation. This one came with a high recommendation and I’m glad I took two days to enjoy it.

Anne takes two weeks and goes to live in a simple beach house. She leaves behind her family, her house and her work to just be. This sounds a little silly, but she goes on to compare the stages and pieces of her life to seashells.

The book has a peaceful rhythm that takes the reader to the beach. She stresses the importance of remembering the individual, especially for women. Her writing is beautiful and to the point.

Anne constantly comes back to the role of women in society, family, marriage and in the workplace. In an unselfish way, she reminds women to be sane, we need space. We need quiet and calm.

“You will remind me that the woman must be still as the axis of a wheel in the midst of her activities; that she must be the pioneer in achieving this stillness, not only for her own salvation, but for the salvation of family life, of society, perhaps even of our civilization.”

I like how she talks about the accomplishments of feminism and women’s rights. She says that women are finding careers outside of the home, but are not satisfied competing with males in those fields. She believed something was still off balance. Reading this today, it’s clear she’s anticipating second-wave feminism (and pretty early into the first wave).

In the end, she says she wrote these essays on her vacation to work out her own problems. The week is a retreat from her life, I love how she ends it reminding herself to keep her “island eyes” or her clutter-free thoughts when she reenters her life in suburban New York.

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