One of my favorite books is the Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. Until I read this book, I’d known nothing of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh. After finishing the book, I longed to know more about this remarkable woman. I added her small book of essays Gift From the Sea to my TBR list. While browsing a used bookstore last week I was happy to find a copy and snatched it right up. It is the first item I toss into my beach bag a few days back when the opportunity arose for an impromptu trip to Galveston, TX with my daughter.
I feel a bit reprimanded as I read the first sentence.
“The Beach is not a place to work, to read, write or think.”
I rationalize I am reading for pleasure so after a slight stumble, I carry on. I only make it through the first two essays before being enticed by my daughter to do some shell collecting. As I was walk along the shore, I remember something I heard Ann Bogel say several times in her podcast What Should I Read Next. She shares a saying she has heard that sometimes a book comes to you at just the right moment in your life. I believe this to be true as read this book. The second essay, Channelled Whelk, compares the beautiful minimalist shell home of a whelk to the simplicity she seeks in her life. I am fully open to this idea in my own life. I have a strong desire to shed myself of many of the physical things I have collected through my almost fifty years of life, twenty-seven year marriage and the remnants of belongings left behind by my three grown children.
“…certain environments, certain modes of life, certain rules of conduct are more conducive to inner and outer harmony than others. There are, in fact, certain roads that one may follow. Simplification of life is one of them.”
As I near fifty, my goals for life are changing. I identify with the following passage whole-heartedly.
“The shape of my life is, of course, determined by many other things; my background and childhood, my mind and its education, my conscience and its pressures, my heart and its desires. I want to give and take from my children and husband, to share with friends and community, to carry on my obligations to man and to the world, as a woman, as an artist, as a citizen.
But I want first of all – in fact, as and end to theses other desires – to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can.”
The timeless nature of her words and thoughts is profound. Lindbergh wrote this book in 1955 and was a highly accomplished aviator and navigator as well as mother an wife. Despite the first sentence, I enjoy the time I had to read her thoughts and contemplate them while spending some me time at the beach.