The Art of Shedding

“One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much. Physical shedding to begin with, which then mysteriously spreads into other fields. Clothes, first. Of course, one needs less in the sun. But one needs less anyway, one finds suddenly. One does not need a closet-full, only a small suitcase-full.”
Gift from the Sea

The very first thing I did when I made my way to the ocean yesterday was shed my shoes. Feel the warm sand underneath my feet. Immediately I sighed. Ah, bliss. Soak it in.

The Art of Shedding

I am amazed that Gift from the Sea is over fifty years old. The relevancy of its contents is nothing short of brilliant. Times have changed, yes, but they have also stayed the same. We still deal with choosing complication over simplification—amassing mounds of stuff, both physical and emotional—that is sincerely unnecessary and if allowed, will weigh us down and keep us from accomplishing what we’ve been put here on earth to do. So how do we practice this fine art of shedding? Anne Morrow Lindbergh mentions several key areas where she applied this discipline and found liberating freedom.

The Art of Shedding

Five Simple Ways to Shed

  1. The shedding of vanity. Maybe you don’t live near the ocean and struggle to connect or relate with the verbiage of ocean talk. That’s okay, I think we can all agree that no matter where we live, we all deal in some small degree with the issue of vanity. At the beach, it’s okay to wear the same clothes for a few days in a row. Who cares? Or abstain from wearing jewelry or fixing fancy meals or obsessing about perfect houses. What’s a little sand in the carpet?
  2. The shedding of hypocrisy. Anne writes, “The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.” Well, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I didn’t have to come to the beach to shed my mask. Yet, it does help. As I walked down the beach this evening, I noticed that everyone was wearing just about the same thing: shorts, t shirts, no shoes or flip flops, bathing suits, etc. I couldn’t tell a doctor from a truck driver. Everyone was on the same playing field. I loved it!
  3. The shedding of “Martha-like anxieties about many things” (Luke [10:38]-42). Most of us relax and allow everyone else around us to relax. We aren’t as obsessed with all things tidy. It feels so good to let it all go for a time. Beach towels hang from porches. Showers are taken outside or not taken at all. 
  4. The shedding of complication. Who doesn’t love a few days where the most complicated question is will we take Doritos or Sun Chips to the beach? We forget about bills and war and pain and responsibility. We let go and remember how to laugh, play games, float, and build sandcastles in the sky.
  5. The shedding of the necessities and trappings of daily life. She writes, “I love my sea-shell of a house. I wish I could live in it always. But I cannot. It won’t hold a husband, five children, and the necessities and trappings of daily life. I can only carry back my channeled whelk. It will sit on my desk in Connecticut, to remind me of the ideal of a simplified life.” Yes, Anne, I, too, will carry back the little moon shell I found waiting for me on the beach last night. It will sit on the base of my computer and remind me of the intentions I set while here.

The Art of Shedding

Next time we’ll dig into “Five Simple Ways to Choose Emotional Simplification Over Complication.” If you’d like more tips on simplification or shedding, enjoy these resources:

Energy Management (more on this next time)

72 Ideas to Simplify Your World

Cut the Stress

Stress Relief that Works