We all know the name of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. A less familiar name is that of his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, an aviator herself and author. In 1955, Anne Lindbergh’s book Gift from the Sea was published. In Gift from the Sea, Lindbergh writes about the vacation she took by herself to Florida’s Captiva Island, away from her obligations as a wife of a celebrity and mother of five.
I first read Gift from the Sea when I was a new mom. I was intrigued by Lindbergh’s musings on the importance of giving oneself the gift of solitude. Lindbergh writes: “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.” At the time, I thought, “I’d like to do that”, but I couldn’t imagine leaving my kids and husband and going on vacation by myself. In addition to feeling like I might be being incredibly selfish, I was also afraid that I would be incredibly lonely.
But Lindbergh’s book stuck with me and last year, I went on my first vacation alone to the Porches Writing Retreat. The Porches is an Antebellum house located in the sleepy town of Norwood, Virginia, just south of Charlottesville. And just like its name, it has two porches (one on the first and one on the second floor) that line the entire back of the house. From these porches, you have the most wonderful view of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains.
Life at The Porches is simple – there is no phone reception or television and the internet connection is intermittent. My cozy room had a bed, a desk by a large picture window and a comfy reading chair. And that’s about it. I spent my days reading, writing, painting, and hiking. I wasn’t lonely and the week flew by. I couldn’t wait to go back and this past week, I spent my second vacation, alone, at The Porches.
Again, I wrote, I read, I painted. Here is a little landscape, painted from the second floor porch.
I discovered at The Porches the universal truth in Lindbergh’s writing. When one is alone, one has time to contemplate and with contemplation, life does rush “back into the void, richer, more vivid and fuller than before.”
Melissa Tevere, February 2016