|What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channeled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible, I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return.|
|Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea
Now that the summer is coming to an end, and we’re all trying to head to the beaches before Labor Day, it’s a good time to find those perfect shells and reflect on not only the splendors of the sea but on the richness of our inner lives.
And it’s the perfect time to read—or in most cases re-read, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From The Sea.
|Written by Mrs. Lindbergh while she was on vacation on Florida’s Captiva Island, the book was published in 1955 and has sold over 3 million copies.
To commemorate its 50th anniversary, this wonderful book was re-published in 2005 by Pantheon books.
For those out on the East End of Long Island, I suggest a visit to Sylvester & Co., a home furnishings store in Sag Harbor where the book is on prominent display.
I visited and photographed Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1976 and again in 1977.
|My life in Connecticut, I begin to realize lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and fine myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures—an excess of shells, where one or two would be significant.|
|At her desk in her living room—for correspondence and editing.|
|Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her house and outside her writing studio in Darien, Connecticut.|
|Anne Morrow Lindbergh's bookshelf with collected shells.
The one-and-only moments are justified. The return to them, even if temporarily, is valid. The moment over the marmalade and muffins is valid; the moment feeding the child at the breast is valid; the moment racing with him at the beach is valid. Finding shells together, polishing chestnuts, sharing one’s treasures—all these moments of together-aloneness are valid, but not permanent.
|Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her writing studio—the place where she found the solitude she needed to write her books.
One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind; what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor. Perhaps a channeled whelk, a moon shell, or even an argonaut.
But it must not be sought for or—heaven forbid!—dug for. No, no dredging of the sea-bottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for the gift from the sea.
|Anne Morrow met Charles Lindbergh in 1927 when she was a 21-year-old senior at Smith College. The man known as Lucky Lindy had just made his solo flight across the Atlantic, which had made him a hero of mythic proportions. Two years later the couple married. The wife of the most famous man in the world learned to navigate, to operate a radio and to pilot a plane. In 1930, Mrs. Lindbergh became the first woman in the United States to get a glider pilot’s license. In the same year, she was the co-pilot and navigator when her husband broke the transatlantic speed record.|
|Amelia Earhart and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, ca. 1930s (U.P.I.). In October, we will be able to see the film, Amelia, starring Hillary Swank as Amelia Earhart. Co-starring Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor, the bio-pic was directed by Mira Nair.||In electrically heated flying suits (in front of their Lockheed Sirius) at the Los Angeles Airport before their trancontinental record-breaking flight to New York, March 21, 1930. Anne is now seven months pregnant. Wide World Photos.|
|Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved.|