Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sea Shells as Metaphors for Life?

Scanning my bookcases a few days ago, I came across a little book an old friend from Vancouver had given me for Christmas one year when I lived there called Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I recall when I received the little volume that I read it, liked it and tucked it away, knowing it would be a keeper - end of story. Over the years, I would notice it tucked in amongst the rest of my precious books, always noticeable not for it's largess, but for the fact it was so small compared to the other hard cover books I have saved. It never conformed to the rest of the books on the shelves that dwarfed it in size, but I always knew it was a giant in terms of meaning. The dust jacket design is a photograph of sea shells lying in the sand, the hard cover of the book a serene shade of ecru, with a delicate lavender coloured ribbon marker attached. I had not re-read Gift From The Sea since my first pass through 17 years ago. Knowing it would be a quick read, I took it to bed with me a couple of nights ago and read half of it before falling asleep the first night. I was struck by how relevant it seemed to my life right now, more so perhaps than it had the first time I read it. Lindbergh's book was originally published in 1955. How could a book about one woman's "meditations on youth and age, love and marriage, solitude, peace, and contentment," written by a fifties housewife possibly pertain to my life in 2009? Incredibly - her book, with it's timeless validity, will likely remain a classic well into the next century as it has in this one. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, if you didn't already know, was the wife of Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator and the mother of five children. She raised her family in Connecticut and summered on the Maine coast. In one of her solitary escapes to their rustic beach house, she penned this book using various sea shells and their unique shapes as metaphors for different stages of life. Her insights more than fifty years ago could apply to any woman today, surprising in their uncanny relevance to middle-aged moi. Perhaps because Morrow Lindbergh was about the same age as I am now when she wrote this book, I find it so compelling. The final chapter of the edition I have was added by the author exactly 20 years later as a new edition was being published. Her reflections two decades later were described as "embarrassed astonishment" that her essays had spoken to so many women. Just as her book was still valid to a new generation of women in 1975, trust me when I say, it is equally valid in 2009. Gift From The Sea, required reading for - "Mid-life Crisis Coping 101".

1 comment:

Carla Sandrin said...

Sounds like a meaningful read. I think I'll look out for this book. I wonder if there is an even further updated version.