So tell me, mountains or beach?
For me, it’s beach baby beach. All the way. Not any ‘ole beach. Deserted. A gull or two. Late afternoon, twilight. Jagged, rocky coastline. Salty breeze. Abandoned life guard chair. Lighthouse. Yeah that’s my kind of beach.
I got a lotta lists going in my journal. (You too?) Disorganized, scrawled. Barely legible. Random. Blog ideas. Epiphanies. Book recommendations. Doctor appointments. Quotes. Prayer requests. Passwords. In that jumble, a list: “Who I want to meet when I get Home.”
And one name towards the top of the list? Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Ring a bell?
Yeah, Anne was Charles Lindbergh’s wife.
That Charles Lindbergh.
The Charles Lindbergh who made the first solo non-stop flight from New York to Paris in his single engine, single seat monoplane Spirit of St. Louis in 1927. The flight was 33 hours and 30 minutes, branded him a lifetime celebrity overnight.
I could brag on Charles Lindbergh, the amazing man he was. That he won the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor for his incredible accomplishment. Among other things.
But I really want to chat about his lovely accomplished wife Anne. Because she was one amazing lady. A mother of five. Aviator. Deep thinker, writer. In 1955, forty-nine-year-old Anne spent two weeks alone in a New England coastal cottage, penning her thoughts on aging, relationships, solitude, being a woman, caring for the soul. Those thoughts morphed into her book Gift from the Sea.
“I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be. The most exhausting thing in life, I have found, is being insincere. That is why so much social life is exhausting. One is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.”
So honest. I find Anne intriguing, refreshing. Unusual.
A few more Anne quotes from Gift from the Sea: (italics mine)
“We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends, and movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void. Women, who used to complain of loneliness, need never be alone any more. We can do our housework with soap opera heroes at our side. Even daydreaming was more creative than this; it demanded something of oneself and it fed the inner life. Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, 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.”
(We could add computers and i-phones to the list.)
“ It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. How often in a large city, shaking hands with my friends, I have felt the wilderness stretching between us. Both of us were wandering in arid wastes, having lost the springs that nourished us – or having found them dry. Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be found through solitude.”
“Actually these are among the most important times in one’s life – when one is alone. Certain springs are tapped only when one is alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray.”
“We tend not to choose the unknown, which might be a shock or a disappointment or simply a little difficult to cope with. And yet it is the unknown with all its disappointments and surprises that is the most enriching.”
Can’t resist one more:
“Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego. Perhaps one can shed at this stage of life as one sheds in beach-living; one’s pride, ones false ambitions, one’s mask, one’s armor. Was that armor not put on to protect one from the competitive world? If one ceases to compete, does one need it? Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, be completely oneself. And what a liberation that would be!”
Somehow Anne’s words are as relevant today as they were when she penned them in 1955. Dearly love this woman. Wish we could’ve been friends, hung out on the beach. 🙂
‘Cuz Anne was a beach girl too.
If you’re looking for a short contemplative and enjoyable read this summer, Gift from the Sea might fit the bill.
So mountains or beach? Read Gift from the Sea? Thoughts?
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J’aime beaucoup les quotes d’Anne ! Une femme très courageuse! Mon mari aime les plages exactement comme toi! Moi je suis plutôt montagne 😉 Have a lovely wekkend!
Thank you Eva! You and your husband must be perfectly matched. Opposites attract. 🙂
Linda Jenkins says
I read Gift from the Sea several years ago. I received the book as a gift, and it turned out to be just that. I, too, loved the author’s insights. And if truth be told, the beach always has been my favorite place to be. I love the salt air; it is so invigorating to my soul. Whenever I need to rediscover myself, to renew, I head to the beach. I would recommend this book. It is a wonderful read.
There’s just something exciting about the beach, invigorating. Ever changing, always the same….so glad you enjoyed this book Linda!
Just reread mine while on the beach in Puerto Rico. I always find something new to ponder. It’s a way for me to measure my own “coming out of the shell” and to consider what I shall shed next. A must read for sure.
You didn’t mention, my friend, that it was you who gave me this book! I have loved it so much and am so glad to be able to share it with others here. Thrilled you got to reread it on the beach in Puerto Rico. A fitting beach read for sure. 🙂
Aunt Pinkie says
Never read her book but it looks good! I, too, am a beach girl but sadly am not able to get there any more! And I really miss it! Thanks for sharing some of her insights.
I’m sorry you can’t get there anymore. That must be so hard since you really love it. I do hope you can read this book – I think you’d enjoy it, especially since you’re a beach girl too.
Christy Smith says
I am grateful for these meaningful thoughts to ponder today! I love the middle age shedding idea….and her idea on how being connected to your own core helps you connect to others! Thanks for being provocative as always Allie!
Thank you dear Christy – from our past conversations I am certain you would love this book.
Susie Mandel says
I definitely need to put this on my “to read” list. She sounds awesome. As for me, I could be both a mountains and sea girl. Does that make me a split personality?? 😉
That would not be a bad split personality Susie. I guess I am too, because I love the mountains. Just the beach more. 🙂 I think you would love this book!
Laura Cook says
Mountain Girl here, married to a Mountain Man. But Anne’s wonderful wisdom rings true & is fitting sans the sea shells. The higher we hike, the more magnificent the view and the more we work at climbing, the more clothing layers we shed. I like the beach too, but just not quite as much as the Mountains. I especially love the one you described, Allie- deserted at dusk… or dawn.
Dear Mountain Girl – Have you read this book yet? I particularly think you’d love it. Ann’s vibrant faith really shines through, and so much wisdom. So much love to you, Beach Girl XO (P.S. I like the mountains too.)
I am definitely a beach person. I crave the beach! Don’t know exactly why but maybe if I read this book I’ll find out. I love the quotes you shared. Looking forward to more. And I totally could see you two being friends!
Carina Spring says
I loved this post! It really resonates with me and I am adding the book to my list of summer reads. Beautiful quotes that tap at some profound truths.
Mountain or beach… Hmmm. Fun question. I ADORE the mountains – they feel like home to me and rejuvinate me in inexplicable and incomparable ways (though I live far away from them now and rarely see them), but I also LOVE the beach so much! Especially the kind you describe, deserted and natural. I find it healing. I have not been by the sea or ocean for many years ( I usually visit the lake, which I also love), but the power and beauty of the sea are wonderful. I guess I am a mountain girl …and a beach girl. 🙂 Take care, Allie.