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This week’s topic is Sea.

Tomorrow is Labor Day in the US, the unofficial end of summer. I only went to the sea once this summer…without a camera. I live too far to drive to the sea just to take photos. The parking fees are normally astronomical for this weekend, and — my last excuse –its raining. So I decided to approach the topic in a different way using images from my “shoebox.”

Gift From the Sea

Gift From the Sea

One of my favorite books is Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea.” There are just too many fabulous quotes from this book to post here, but in keeping with the title, I was thinking about gifts from the sea, intangible gifts such as peace and serenity, and inspiration for art, music, and soul-searching.

Lindbergh says near the beginning of the book:

“…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.” 

art by the sea

Martha’s Vineyard, MA

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It’s great that the latest Daily Post topic intends us to use a gallery to display what makes us happy. There are so many things that make me happy: my family, my kitties, tea, books, gardening and flowers, Christmas, and writing!

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Kafka said, “a book should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within us.”

I love this quote; it appeared in Anna Quindlen ‘s 1998 essay called “How Reading Changed My Life,” which I just read yesterday; it’s a keeper for my bookshelf. Reading it reminded me that I do have a passion in life: reading. It may never lead to what it lead to for her (becoming a best-selling author), but it is a worthwhile passion none-the-less.

The essay is short enough to read in one sitting, but full of food for thought to be savored. It is broken up into four sections each preceded by a quote about reading, so you don’t HAVE to read it in one sitting if you don’t have the time (but you’ll WANT to read it all at once).

The first section presents a picture of a young girl feeling “alone” in her love of books and likens the passion to read to the urge to run away from home, a driving need to be somewhere else. I related completely when she talked about her mother chastising her for not going out to play like other kids.

The second section intersperses history with a story about the person who affected her reading life most as a child. She also has theories about why women in particular read and comments on the existence of book clubs.

In the third section she names the book that really made an impression on her as a child, interspersed with more history and a discussion of banned books. She touches on the personal and subjective nature of defining an “important” or “great” book. I love that she provides some digs against literary critics and college English department chairmen.

Finally, the fourth section touches on the importance of reading in general, whether it is “literature” or “fiction.” I have always lamented spending so many years reading Nancy Drew books because I didn’t know any better; she made me feel okay with that. She also talks about the future of reading as technology moves us forward. I found this REALLY fascinating, given that it was written almost 15 years ago! The same things are still being said in 2012 about hardcover books going away, but they haven’t yet!

She finishes with a few reading lists, always fun. This essay is timeless and is worth a reread.

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A Poem about Reading

The previous post about reading a good book reminded me of a poem I wrote back in 2003.

 

The Reader

 

It’s so easy for me

to be lost in a book,

to pull on a novel character

like a change of clothes,

new and refreshing;

No matter how sad

their life may be,

I’m not me.

When I close

the book

I’m an awakened

sleepwalker:

I am placed

in my life

like a colorform

or a paperdoll;

as if I am teetering

on the edge of a cliff

and dare not move

until I touch

the harsh reality

of the world around me

and feel sure it can hold

the uncertainty of myself—

Lock me once again

into my own life.

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