Postcard from the Sea Library: You Need a Light to Read a Book

Dear friend,

A couple of days ago a visitor reminded me of a quote. “What is the meaning of life?” asks a painter Lily Briscoe in the novel “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf. “The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.”

On Monday I had my last swim of summer. It happens every year – summer ends, autumn arrives – but days have become tinted with melancholy. Sunlight hours are melting. I need my matches now. I need a source of light. So I went to the shelves and searched for books. Almost all books about the sea fill me with a sense of the right place. When I read, I am home. Same feeling, when I arrive at an empty beach, throw my bike in the sand and am there. With the sea.

When darkness falls, Sea Library window glows yellow. Photo by Beach Books.

First, in search for light, I reminded myself of my favourite quotes about the sea. Words by Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Rachel Carson and Philip Hoare have shaped my own relationship with the sea. Words too are like “matches struck unexpectedly”.

Then I read a book “Phosphorescence” by Australian author Julia Baird. She has experienced very dark moments, but has found her ability to glow. Author uses phosphorescence as a metaphor, but also mentions, that humans really do glow a few times a day. Although we can’t see it with a naked eye.

Julia Baird writes that finding a purpose, something you are completely absorbed in, is one of the roads to an inner phosphorescence. American author Juli Berwald in her book “Spineless” finds jellyfish at a moment when she is lost. Juli becomes obsessed and finally finds her professional purpose.

I believe that Sea Library is my purpose. I left a paid job in the city to move here to a little town by the sea, to start to live in a wooden riverside house. I have left everything behind to create this space where everyone, young and old, can come and read and borrow beautiful books about the sea.

I am dreaming this dream, that I hope to support with dreaming blankets, for others. But most of all – for myself. Sea Library is my matchbox, my light. I become bioluminescent with books. This week I reminded myself of that. But next week I want to embrace the beauty of darkness, the stars, the night-swims. Come and see what will I find. For you.

I surfed the waves of emotions just like a little boy Mop did. I also had my first swim in autumn. It reminded me why I love autumn. The resort town where I’m living becomes a ghost town and the beach is always empty. Except for gulls, dogs and a librarian, counting the waves with no reason.

How was your week? What did you read? What did you think about? What’s your relationship with autumn? Tell me.

I’ll write a new postcard next Sunday.


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