Monday Musing

“What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channelled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible, I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return.”
~A Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Finding balance between the needs of others and ourselves – this has been a key factor in the lives of women for generations. I had forgotten how perfectly Lindbergh expressed this concern in her little book, written just about the time I was born, a time when women’s lives were definitely less complicated, a time when society proscribed a woman’s role in such a way that any swing of the pendulum, any deviation from the norm was considered peculiar.

I first read Gift From the Sea in the early 80’s, when I was a young mother trying to adjust her expectations and find a balance between total immersion in family life and still maintain some “life of the mind.” Her words echoed in my heart, and I was comforted by the realization that I was in a company of women seeking the same sense of equilibrium for their lives.

Coming across this excerpt today, I realize how timeless this quest truly is. My circumstances today are quite different from those of 25 years ago. My nest is empty, I have fulfilling work and recreation, I have gained a sense of confidence I didn’t have upon my first reading.

Yet I continue to struggle with that question of balance, continue always to ache for more time to explore my inner life, to immerse myself in books and music, to be able to study everything about this wide world in greater detail.

“And yet I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. And I would not want to be.”

For better or worse, this is life ~ the marriage, the home, the family that needs you, the workplace, the church ~ these are the true things, the things that filter our experience of the world and make it real.

But I am most definitely a seeker of balance, and I covet that resting state where the pendulum stops naturally, where my body, mind, and heart will feel at ease.

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9 thoughts on “Monday Musing

  1. I love this quote…Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a unique woman, living a unique life with a man I daresay was difficult to live with.

    I have yet to read “A Gift from the Sea” and yet it is one I keep telling myself I will.

    I loved reading your post Becca, your thoughts in juxtaposition with Lindbergh’s..and yes, Balance…for women, finding balance in lifehas always been something we seek and always will seek I would expect.

    I just spent this past weekend a.l.o.n.e. with myself and it was bliss…I didn’t lose one second of the time…being able to come and go, eat when I wanted, what I wanted, needing to take no one else, no one else’s schedule into account. It has left me refreshed…and quite ready to do it again!

  2. Dear Goddess Becca,

    I love this book!!! Time to bring it down off the shelf and reread and see what NEW concepts are waiting to be found.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    I love your words: “resting state where pendulum stops naturally”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and excerpts of this book.

    Wishing you,
    Peace & Love, Just Because,
    Goddess Diana

  3. Even more than the excerpt you quoted I like the line: “the things that filter our experience of the world and make it real.” I often muse about life and its form and how it can feel surreal. This line nails it…life’s like the air…we can’t see it save for when some dust particles reveal it through a shaft of light. Hmmm…

  4. I, too was touched by that book and am constantly in search of balance. Some days are better than others; on the whole, I think it’s difficult to achieve complete balance. The ancient Greeks tried to do it – a day of achievement and moderation followed by a day of indulgence – but it was never truly embraced in their lifestyles. I think we have periods of time in which we achieve the balance more than others. Sometimes seem quite chaotic; almost beyond our realm of control. Other times, it’s wonderful to be able to find that bliss of balance.

  5. “I covet that resting state where the pendulum stops naturally, where my body, mind, and heart will feel at ease.”

    Becca,
    You write beautifully, but that isn’t enough, is it? The writer has to connect with the reader. Sometimes I feel that you are looking into my life. I come to your site because I feel filled up when I leave. Balance – it is the true quest for most women. Most certainly, it is for me.

  6. Amazing quote…and thanks so much for this post. I am struggling with balance…feel just like I do RIGHT before I topple from a yoga posture. Like it was wrong from the start, but too late now. Or something.

    I love your blog, and plan to do a better job of commenting in 2008. 🙂

  7. Welcome home! I’ve been snowed in without power. Balance is tough but being a Libra I am constantly trying.

    I loved the star idea at church. What a gift!

    XXOO

  8. I read the book about the same time you did. Your quote is one of my favorites. Balance continues to challenge my life also.

  9. These things you mention are all part of life, but, I’ve found that if I can carve out a good half hour a day, it recharges me and gives me a feeling of “time for me” without interfering with my other responsibilties. But, again, it’s hard when we put so much on front of our own pleasures.
    Can I wisk you away to a day spa? We can get mani’s and pedi’s and hot stone massages? LOL. It would be splendid!

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