The Amethyst Network Board decided to experiment with choosing a “book of the month” to discuss, comment upon, and share during the month. For March, we chose Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I have had the book on my to-read shelf for years and a few days ago, it literally popped off the shelf and into my hands. I’d like to offer a series of short posts based on the book, sharing quotes that I enjoy as well as associated personal experiences or thoughts.
The first quote that caught my eye was this one immediately following a section about the many exhausting demands on a mother’s time and attention:
For life today in America is based on the premise of ever-widening circles of contact and communication. It involves not only family demands, but community demands, national demands, international demands on the good citizen, through social and cultural pressures, through newspapers, magazines, radio programs, political drives, charitable appeals, and so on. My mind reels in it, What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby-carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now!
This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace, it destroys the soul. And this is not only true of my life. I am forced to conclude, it is the life of millions of women in America. I stress America, because today, the American woman more than any other has the privilege of choosing such a life.
Woman in large parts of the civilized world has been forced back by war, by poverty, by collapse, by the sheer struggle to survive, into a smaller circle of immediate time and space, immediate family life, immediate problems of existence. The American woman is still relatively free to choose the wider life…
This almost made me laugh because it was written in 1955, but I feel like she might really be talking about Facebook! It actually made me feel good to know that this feeling of fragmentation I describe sometimes and the sense of everything and everybody wanting a piece of me all the time, isn’t a new feature of being a woman and mother, and it also isn’t the “fault” of technology. Perhaps it is a feature of caring a lot.
It also reminded me of the quote I keep taped to my laptop:
To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is itself to succumb to the violence of our times. Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful. –Thomas Merton