Part 3: Below are more quotes and reflections on this section in Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Words on how now we need never be alone – truer now than ever before. So many distractions, we have endless distractions to keep us occupied. Her writing calms my breathing. I feel I am at the ocean, with the sounds of the waves in the background.
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.
- I love my work but I feel drained. Drained from being with people all day, from being “on,” from giving and thinking and perceiving. Drained from being in an office, the appearance of which I cannot alter beyond a program poster I find attractive and a little postcard of Van Gogh’s “First Steps.” I come home and although I ache to be with my children, I seek asylum. But then I err. Instead of seeking prayer or reading in order to be truly alone with myself, I go online, pinterest, facebook, hostess with the mostess. I find I am not refreshed.
The need to fill the pitcher to the brim, rather than spill out in driblets.
The artist, naturally, always resents giving himself in small drops.
- I feel so selfish. I gave in driblets, again and again. Yell at the child, step away, pray for patience, come back ready to be calm and controlled. Another incident, another whine, another act of toddler resistance, ahem, toddler independence and I fall right back again. I have not thought of this act of allowing the pitcher to fill to the brim.
I believe that what a woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly.
- I find some comfort in that I do give myself purposely. I am trying to make things better. Intentionality drives me. Putting together the home, creating routine, establishing discipline.
- Yet still, I have been purposeless these days. I have felt buried under it all. The constant whining, the battles, the inability to please and motivate.
We do not see the results of our giving as concretely as man does in his work.
- I feel this. At work, the impact is very clear. My clients are very open to what we are about. At home, progress is so…so…spiritual, intangible. Beyond maintaining hygiene and decency, I do not feel like I see progress. I hear others praise my child, but feel she gives the worst to me. So it is draining. That phrase makes so much more sense in the context of what the author writes about. Going down the drain. Purposeless, driblets.
Purposeful giving is not as apt to deplete one’s resources; it belongs to that natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion. The more one gives, the more one has to give.
- Yes, I feel that at work, and I feel it with my younger children because it is so easy to delight them. My eldest needs my attention. She needs more purposeful giving. I can get away with driblets with the infant and the toddler, they need only my body (or so it feels) for nursing or reading or play. The boy is so unaware. It takes so little to amuse him. But the eldest, she needs companionship, someone to talk to, to smile at her. If I could just get some time alone with her.
- I went to mass today by myself. I entered aching, ready for tears but resistant because I will no longer cry in public, scolding myself that I have a good life, a light cross and no excuse to indulge public tears, making others think, I don’t know, that someone may have died. When the Liturgy of the Eucharist began, my heart opened up. Christ was coming. I felt renewed by the end of it all, albeit not magically.
No longer fed by a feeling of indispensability or purposefulness, we are hungry, and not knowing what we are hungry for, we fill up the void with endless distractions, always at hand—unnecessary errands, compulsive duties, social niceties.
- She wrote this in the 1950’s and yet it more true now. We have truly endless distractions. We look for meaning in projects. Or worse, we look for an endless supply of criticisms of self for all the things I cannot do. Have I not engaged in that here? We should be realistic. We should not coddle ourselves. I hate the self-esteem movement. But we should not waste time. We should look at the source.
- We need to see solitude as necessary.
Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of the whole web of human relationships.
- So what if I allowed myself to heal? What if for one hour a week I took my child out for a coffee (milk in her case) and we chatted as only we ladies can do. What if I finally took the time to go to adoration. I never desired alone time before I had children. I embraced marriage and the constant companionship. I struggled when my husband needed his time alone because I then felt lonely. But I had no project, nothing to create or to love.
- I see better now. Now, I say with smile, that I have begun writing again.
The problem is more how to still the soul in the midst of its activities.
- I knew reading would quiet my soul, my anxiety. I know it still. Writing, thinking, laying out my thoughts as I have done here, that has really reached into the depth and brought me to life again.
Mechanically we have gained, in the last generation, but spiritually we have, I think unwittingly lost. In other times, women had in their lives more forces which center them whether or not they realized it… their very seclusion in the home gave them time alone…Nothing feeds the center so much as creative work, even the humble kinds…must have been far more nourishing than being the family chauffeur or shopping at super-markets, or doing housework with mechanical aids.
- I have never thought of this before and so it amazes me. My husband seeks creative pursuits in all corners: gardening, bread baking, composing, teaching our children. I see his delight in it and understand that he loves to see the finished product. Yet still I never personally derived the same pleasure from those things. My creativity centered more on aesthetics: the home, the flower arrangement, the table setting. With my engagement online I am challenging myself to use my camera properly again, to write poetically again.
- We have become the chauffeur. The eldest goes to preschool every day for three hours each day. We take her to and fro. I feel better now that I am using a bike and trailer for some of it. I can see what the author is saying.
- Yet still I fear the time alone, the time without distraction because it is so difficult to get my mind to work again. I am sleep deprived. For the fourth year I am sleep deprived. Because of anxiety it is difficult to fall asleep. Because of my nature, being easily stimulated, after 4am it is difficult to stay asleep. Nursing and oxytocin act as a drug to induce me to sleep. Sometimes I cannot fall asleep until I have nursed her. I am sleep deprived. Some days I look for passive engagement. I claim I seek intelligent thought. Perhaps all this time, it is time alone I seek to allow my thoughts to full develop. Passive engagement was only a mere distraction.
She must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today… it should be something of one’s own. 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. What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive.
Don’t I seek a magical solution? I think: what if this is it? What is some time alone were the secret to being happy and fulfilled? I know I feel something more complete in my since I began to write more seriously. I am motivated when I see more people following what I write.
This book is opening doors.
I am an extrovert. I was lonely as a child, living in the country, always alone, a latch key child. I wrote, I thought, I imagined. When I did missionary work I discovered so much about myself. I loved to be with people. I was not an introvert but felt energized by company. I was an artist, more at home with host-families in Oregon than my less artistically-inclined, albeit wonderful, teammates.
I’ve taken this for granted. I do not want to do so anymore. Time alone, to think and to write. My first love. I wrote short stories in grade school. I began “novels” in sixth grade. I completed my last work at age 19. But writing has ever been one of my great loves
So here we are, the book and I. Something strange and new is opening up for me. I am excited to reach Part Four.
- Tomorrow she and I will have a painting date after preschool.