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The Wisdom of Anne Morrow Lindbergh

July 2, 2018

 

Anne Spencer Lindbergh (née Morrow, 1906 – 2001) was an acclaimed American author, whose books and articles spanned poetry and nonfiction, with themes that included solitude and contentment, youth and age, love and marriage, peace and the role of women in the 20th century. She was also an aviator, and the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

 

Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea is a popular inspirational book.

 

Here is a selection of quotes from her literary repertoire:

 

'Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day- like writing a poem or saying a prayer.'

 

'The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.' 

 

'The beach is not a place to work; to read, write or to think.'

 

'When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

 

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.' 

 

'I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.’

 

'Don't wish me happiness

I don't expect to be happy all the time...

It's gotten beyond that somehow.

Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.

I will need them all.' 

 

'One writes not to be read but to breathe...one writes to think, to pray, to analyze. One writes to clear one's mind, to dissipate one's fears, to face one's doubts, to look at one's mistakes--in order to retrieve them. One writes to capture and crystallize one's joy, but also to disperse one's gloom. Like prayer--you go to it in sorrow more than joy, for help, a road back to “grace”.'

 

'I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.' 

 

'I want first of all... 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. I want, in fact--to borrow from the language of the saints--to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be one.” I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.'

 

'Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.' 

 

'One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach.'

 

'it takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded.' 

 

'This is what one thirsts for, I realize, after the smallness of the day, of work, of details, of intimacy - even of communication, one thirsts for the magnitude and universality of a night full of stars, pouring into one like a fresh tide.' 

 

'Him that I love, I wish to be free -- even from me.' 

 

'With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls--woman's normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.'

 

'Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.' 

 

'It isn't for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for that long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security.’

 

'For Sayonara, literally translated, “Since it must be so”, of all the good-byes I have heard is the most beautiful. Unlike the Auf Wiedershens and Au revoirs, it does not try to cheat itself by any bravado “Till we meet again”, any sedative to postpone the pain of separation. It does not evade the issue like the sturdy blinking Farewell. Farewell is a father's good-by. It is - “Go out in the world and do well, my son.” It is encouragement and admonition. It is hope and faith. But it passes over the significance of the moment; of parting it says nothing. It hides its emotion. It says too little. While Good-bye ('God be with you') and Adios say too much. They try to bridge the distance, almost to deny it. Good-bye is a prayer, a ringing cry. “You must not go - I cannot bear to have you go! But you shall not go alone, unwatched. God will be with you. God's hand will over you” and even - underneath, hidden, but it is there, incorrigible - “I will be with you; I will watch you - always.” It is a mother's good-bye. But Sayonara says neither too much nor too little. It is a simple acceptance of fact. All understanding of life lies in its limits. All emotion, smoldering, is banked up behind it. But it says nothing. It is really the unspoken good-by, the pressure of a hand, “Sayonara”.' 

 

'Parting is inevitably painful, even for a short time. It's like an amputation, I feel a limb is being torn off, without which I shall be unable to function. And yet, once it is done... I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.’

 

'Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.' 

 

'Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn't seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces.’

 

'Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.' 

 

'The shape of my life is, of course, determined by many things; my background and childhood, my mind and its education, my conscience and its pressures, my heart and its desires.’

 

'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 a gift from the sea.' 

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