Hello and welcome to my fourth Feminist Friday post 🙂 This month I have chosen, Gift From The Sea by the incredible Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This overtly feminist piece of literature was published in 1955! Which is all the more astonishing due to her radical outlook on marriage and motherhood – the messages of which are still considered startlingly current today, and are perhaps even more relevant 65 years on.
Lindbergh’s immersive writing of what she calls ‘beach living’, revolves around her solitary holiday near a beach on Captiva Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. She stayed in a tiny cottage by the sea where she spent her days connecting with nature and embracing simple living. While there, she takes the time to sift through her thoughts like grains of sand, arranging them as shells, and writing her experiences along the way. She describes it beautifully.
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… One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.Anne Morrow Lindbergh, ‘Gift From The Sea’, p.23.
I first heard about Gift From The Sea through reading Books for Living: A Readers Guide to Life by Will Schwalbe, which I adored – part autobiography, part collection of book reviews and informal essays, Books for Living was insightful and thought provoking – and Gift From The Sea was one of the books he discussed.
In her book Lindbergh taps into early ideas of mindfulness and simple living – topics seemingly well before her time. She offers profound thoughts on balancing life and love, and navigating marriage and motherhood. It was comforting to read, and addressed the importance of creating the right kind of busy in your life, embracing it, and still being able to find a place of stillness within. She describes it as like a wheel where the circumference of the wheel spins around while the central point remains still, revolving more slowly.
Lindbergh has a beautiful turn of phrase. Her words in Gift From The Sea read in a rhythmic, almost hypnotic way. Following her through the magical conjuring of her surrounding landscape – beach and sea, sand and sky – in words, is almost a meditation in itself. She uses each element of her surroundings along with her shell collection, to provide the starting points for her ideas. She is deeply perceptive of emotion and the patterns of life and has gathered these perceptions into an entirely accessible form – and what a time to absorb these views. Sometimes we need isolation allow the space within for a clearer perspective on life.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh was an adventurous woman and juggled raising five kids alongside this aspect of her character. She was the first woman in America to earn a first-class glider pilots license in 1930; the first woman ever to win the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal in 1934, for her aviation and exploration adventures; she also received the National Book Award in 1938 for Listen! The Wind, her novel based on those adventures, and she remained a bestselling author all her life. She lost her first baby under tragic circumstances in 1932 and retreated to England and later Brittany to survive the obsession of the media at the time. She remained an active and physically capable person well into her 70’s and continued to write. I think knowing these things about her adds yet another layer to the messages within Gift From The Sea, and a deeper meaning to her perception of domestic life, the importance of valuing what you have, working for it, learning to accept loss and her deep rooted passion for gender equality.
Twenty years on from the original publication she wrote about her ’embarrassed astonishment at re-reading [her] naïve assumption in the book that the victories in women’s coming of age had been largely won by the Feminists of [her] mother’s generation’. She talks about the realisation of how much further we’ve still had to come since, and how much there is still to be won. Yet she asks how ‘after so many years, and such great achievement by women, my book should continue to be read’. The truth is, we will forever be in need of a guiding voice to navigate the more choppy seas of life itself, and Lindbergh’s views on equality are timeless.
Growth in awareness has always been painful… But it does lead to greater independence and, eventually, cooperation in action. For the enormous problems that face the world today, in both private and the public sphere, cannot be solved by women – or by men – alone. They can only be surmounted by men and women side by side.Anne Morrow Lindbergh, ‘Gift From The Sea Reopened’
Hope you enjoyed! Feminist Friday is published on the second Friday of every month – hit follow at Meg Readz so you don’t miss out! All books are selected by me and all thoughts my own. If you enjoyed Aprils choice check out my January, February and March posts which can be found on my blog home page. Please like and comment – I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books I share or been inspired to try something new by my post.
Wishing you a Happy Easter and Bank Holiday weekend!
Meg Readz xx