Anne Morrow Lindbergh: This is a memoir. Lindbergh describes the shells that wash up from the sea, each shell offering a new wisdom about life and love. Every shell represents a life lesson, and every page a newly molded philosophy.
“I can only carry back my little channelled whelk . . . to remind me of the ideal of a simplified life, to encourage me in the game I played on the beach. To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with. To say—is it necessary?—when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life, when I am pulled toward one more centrifugal activity.”
“If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement, or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect . . . Actually these are among the most important times in one's life—when one is alone.”
“What release to write so that one forgets oneself, forgets one's companion, forgets where one is or what one is going to do next—to be drenched in work as one is drenched in sleep or in the sea.”
“The collector walks with blinders on; he sees nothing but the prize. In fact, the acquisitive instinct is incompatible with true appreciation of beauty.”
“My island selects for me people who are very different from me—the stranger who turns out to be, in the frame of sufficient time and space, invariably interesting and enriching. . . Out of the welter of life, a few people are selected for us by the accident of temporary confinement in the same circle. We never would have chosen these neighbors; life chose them for us. But thrown together on this island of living, we stretch to understand each other and are invigorated by the stretching. The difficulty with big city environment is that if we select—and we must in order to live and breathe and work in such crowded condition—we tend to select people like ourselves, a very monotonous diet. . . In so many ways this island selects for me better than I do myself at home.”
“Because we cannot deal with the many as individuals, we sometimes try to simplify the many into and abstraction called the mass. Because we cannot deal with the complexity of the present, we often over-ride it and live in a simplified dream of the future. Because we cannot solve our own problems right here at home, we talk about problems out there in the world. . . But can we really feel deeply for an abstraction called mass? Can one make the future a substitute for the present? And what guarantee have we that the future will be any better if we neglect the present? Can one solve world problems when one is unable to solve one's own? . . . Are not the real casualties in modern life just these centers I have been discussing: the here, the now, the individual and his relationships.”
“Have we not also been awakened to a new sense of the dignity of the individual because of the threats and temptations to him, in our time, to surrender his individuality to the mass—whether it be industry or war or standardization of thought and action? We are now ready for a true appreciation of the value of the here and the now and the individual. . . This is the basic substance of life. These are the individual elements that form the bigger entities like mass, future, world. We may neglect these elements, but we cannot dispense with them. They are the drops that make up the stream. They are the essence of life itself. It may be our special function to emphasize again these neglected realities, not as a retreat from greater responsibilities but as a first real step toward a deeper understanding and solution of them.”
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