Welcome back to another post in the Monday Inspirations series, where guest bloggers write about the books and authors that have inspired them. Today’s post is by Tara Paray. You can check out OTHER Monday Inspirations posts here.
Of all the books that inspire me – fiction, non-fiction, YA – the one book in which I find not only inspiration but solace is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I feel like when I read this book she is me.
In the mid-1950s, Lindbergh spent time alone at the beach and wrote this series of essays about life, relationships, solitude, peace, and contentment. She examines each through the description and metaphorical use of various seashells (it’s inspiring in its writing as well as its message).
I have two copies: one is paperback, apparently bought in 1997, based on the first handwritten date on the inside cover; the other is a hardcover 50th anniversary edition that sits on a shelf with other favorites – Shakespeare, Whitman, Twain, Shirley Jackson, Steinbeck, and others.
I write the dates when I read for the same reason parents track their children’s height on walls – to see how much I’ve grown between readings. Sometimes, I reread just for fun, but with a book like this, I’m usually looking for something from the messages written within. What conversation will Anne and I have this time? And what will I underline that I haven’t before (I often reread with pen in hand)?
The first time I read it, it struck me how much seemed the same even though more than 40 years had passed since she wrote it. “I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships,” she writes. “I had the feeling… that my experience was very different from other people’s. (Are we all under this illusion?)” Yes, Anne, we are, at one time or another.
She writes of trying “to evolve another rhythm with more creative pauses in it.” I’m STILL doing that. She writes about finding balance “between solitude and communion, between retreat and return.” She talks about how we’re essentially alone and that’s OK. She discusses living a life of simplicity, which I took to heart, but needed a few more years to implement fully.
And she soothes this introvert’s feelings: “The world today does not understand… the need to be alone,” she writes. “What commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it – like a secret vice!” Oh, Anne. You so get me. And that is still true – some people just don’t get it.
Anne told me at a young age to have faith in the ebb and flow of life, love, or relationships. I told myself to go with the flow, have patience, trust, and believe many times. It’s only in the past 10 years or so that I’ve actually been able to do it, and it wasn’t easy, but better later than never at all.
As I skim the book to share this post, I feel the urge to read it again. The last time was in 2007 – I know because of the cover, but also a folded piece of paper from that year fell from between two pages as I neared the end. 2007 was the year I divorced. The first thing the note says is “I promise to put myself first.” I think I’ll reread Gift from the Sea and see just how far I’ve come and what lessons Anne can teach me this time.
Tara Paray shares smiles across the miles at DaisySmileyFace.com. She’s also on The Twitter @taraparay. She writes memoir, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, lots of scribbles in notebooks, and notes to her future selves in the margins of her many books.