In 1955, a mother of five took a vacation to the beach. For two weeks, she had no husband or children seeking her, no hot water, no telephone, and no obligations, other than to reach inside for much needed rejuvenation as she wrote, searched for pretty shells, and pondered life. In Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh examines some special shells and how their unique beauty relates to personal relationships, a modern woman’s distractions in the midst of an increasingly busy America, and the personal search for inner peace.Although little of what Ms Lindbergh shared was landmark or original (simplify, be alone sometimes, let relationships adapt, etc.) she shared it in such a beautiful way that I couldn’t help but make note of passage after passage. I couldn’t help loving her seashell analogies.
Of course, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was no ordinary 1950s mother: she was a celebrity pilot along with her husband, Charles Lindbergh. She was the mother of the kidnapped “Lindbergh baby” that ended in tragedy. She had a history. Maybe because of her history, her words were able to reach me, and others. She notes in the introduction that she wrote them for herself, then she began to see that they may help others too. I’m glad for her celebrity and for her writing talent because both of them together brought her words to me.
Also, I should note that although women are no longer expected, as they were in the 1950s, to remain in traditional caretaking and homemaking roles, Lindbergh’s book ages well. In fact, very little of it seemed out of date to me. Women are pulled in yet more directions and find electronic distractions even noisier than those that distracted the women in the 1950s. Lindbergh wrote before DVR, internet browsing, and working moms (for the most part). We still need her reminder, maybe more than ever, to seek quiet, peace, and understanding of ourselves before trying to give of ourselves.
Her words echo Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in many ways, and she writes from the heart to women (and people!) everywhere.