A Walk on the Beach is the story of my chance encounter with a wise, playful and astonishing woman who helped usher me toward change and self discovery. First glimpsed as a slender figure on a foggy jetty, Joan Erikson was no ordinary woman. The wife and collaborative of Erik Erikson who designed the Eight Stages of Life, Joan Erikson was always eager to pass on her zest for living.
I have often thought that had I run into Sigmund Freud, I would still be on his couch, or Carl Jung, I would be looking endlessly for my shadow under some huge rock. But I ran into the positive therapist—the couple who made clear that through adversity and conflict we get certain strengths.
The four years spent in a close friendship with this woman (who coined the term identity crisis), certainly turned my life around. She became the guide who pushed me to stretch and grow—to travel to Peru and hike the Inca trail, to weave my life-cycle on a loom, to say yes more than no, to be active, not passive and in the end, to sponsor myself.
One thing I was not expecting, nor looking for, was a mentor—someone who would guide me and yet not have a stake in what I became. Joan Erikson’s life cycle logic has become a part of what I share with women who also are in search of their strengths. Understanding the phases of a woman’s life and how vital we are until the end, are gifts that Joan Erikson would have me pass on. In fact, the book is written so that the reader is mentored by Joan Erikson and then mentors others.
Praise for A Walk on the Beach
“In this, her third book, Anderson introduces the inspiring woman she befriended during and after her move to Cape Cod—Joan Erikson. After their chance encounter the women found their stories—one woman was purposefully apart from her husband while the other was adjusting to her husband’s deteriorating health and imminent death. None the less, Erikson’s enthusiasm for life prompted Anderson to re-evaluate her own marriage and her role as she aged through the life stages that were the subject of Erikson’s published writing. Erikson reminded Anderson of the importance of continuing to learn, grow, change, and most notably play– to be surprised by life and where it leads. She explained: “As long as we are alive, we must keep transforming ourselves.” Through the death of Erikson’s husband and the return of Anderson’s, the reader sees the women cheer each other’s efforts to view the world with a fresh eye each day. This is much more Erikson’s story and philosophy and for readers, every encounter with her is as much of a treat as it was for Anderson who wrote about her friend. “It was she who made me new—who pushed me to the brink,” said Anderson.”
“Shortly after deciding to spend a year apart from her husband, Anderson meets Joan Erikson, wife of pioneering psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. The two women were at different points in their lives but struck up a friendship that helped sustain them through the challenges they faced: marital uncertainty for Anderson, and the decline and imminent death of a beloved spouse for Erikson. Despite her grim prospects and advancing age, Erikson is full of life and energy and fond memories that set Anderson to wondering about the elements of marriage and friendship. Over the course of four years, the women sustain and inspire each other. After Erik’s death, Joan completes their work on the stages of life. And Anderson, author of A Year by the Sea and An Unfinished Marriage, finds the courage to accept the changes in her own life, insights that she brings to this third book on renewal at midlife.” —Booklist
Buy the Book