Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book ‘Gift From The Sea’ is the most inspirational book I have read in recent times. Although the book was first published over half a century ago, the wisdom contained within its pages still holds such powerful truths for women today.
The book is a reflection of the stages of a woman’s life, comparing each chapter to a different type of shell she discovers on the isolated island beach of her daring holiday alone, away from husband, family and friends. She asks herself and her reader many poignant questions through which a multitude of lessons are learned. I have taken away with me a large handful of ideas I wish to translate into my life:
1. The simplification of life both outwardly and innerly. Anne Morrow Lindbergh speaks of the hectic and often chaotic lifestyle, which moves so fast that there is hardly enough time to breathe. By stripping our lifestyle down to its elements, by asking ourselves what we do in fact need to feel fully alive, by mindfully evaluating our material world and social spheres, she argues that it is possible to live life much more fully, much more deeply. I suppose we would call this decluttering both in a material as well as spiritual sense.
2. Taking time out to nourish our spirit and soul. Here the idea is that we should not feel guilty for taking time out from our obligations and many roles we play, we should not apologise because this time is vital to replenish and feed our inner selves. Only if we listen to the needs of our spirit and soul are we able to speak and live our truth.
3. The fabric of love changes over time but each chapter of our love is valid and precious. Anne Morrow Lindbergh ponders on the first blossoming of love, the time when we cannot bare to be parted, followed by the creation of a life together with its many journeys as a family emerges. She argues that these times are so precious yet also part of a journey as we develop; we shouldn’t try to keep replicating these feelings as we develop together as human beings. Instead we weave a web of connection between us, part of this is comfort and predicability, part of this is also spending time by ourselves and not needing to be in close proximity to each other each every minute of the day and night. For love, she argues, is that web of connection, that trust and knowledge of each other, not just the romance and brilliant sunrise of blossoming love.
4. Living for the moment and not only the future, taking time to appreciate the beauty of what we have. It is so easy she comments, to keep racing on for future gains, for having dominating goals which swallow up any notion to immerse ourselves in the gifts of our present. By only seeing the bigger picture we are denying the solid foundations of our being.
5. A connection with nature. For Anne Morrow Lindbergh the ebb and flow of the sea, the spreading warmth of the sand and therefore the sheer fundamental beauty of mother nature is an incredible healer and teacher.
At the end of her reflection Anne Morrow Lindbergh leaves her island with a new set of values symbolized by a bag full of shells she will place on her desk at home to act as guides for the values she has discovered within herself. She states that these shells are her island eyes with which she will view her life. I was given this book as a present by my wonderful aunt together with a shell, which I have placed on my desk as my own reminder of this island way of thinking.