On the Submerged World

As I write, a hard rain is pelting against yesterday’s snow, and patches of dark green, wet stone, fallen twigs are visible just beneath fields of translucent ice. A world, submerged, slowly reveals itself. It reminds me of what it is to make a book – or, perhaps,  what it is to live a life.

A world – submerged – reveals itself.

It begins with noticing. Something buried rustles and stirs. If we’re quiet and attentive enough, we may notice the stirring. What is this? Perhaps we poke at it. Or maybe we turn our backs. Run away. We ignore it. Or we don’t notice at all.  We stick our fingers in our ears and hum a merry little tune. If we don’t notice, the noise might grow a bit louder, but maybe the contents of that submerged world – that beast  – will turn over and go back to sleep. At least for a little while.

The thing about the writing life – or any creative, contemplative, solitary life, really – is that merry little tunes don’t work. Not in the long run. Not even in the short run. What we ignore, we ignore at our own peril. What we embrace with courage, perseverance, humility, and clarity, becomes our instrument of illumination.  This is why I often say that when I’m not writing, I’m not well. What I mean by this is that my mind and my heart begin to become unknowable to me, because the way I come to know myself is through following the line of words until the ice melts, until the field once again becomes visible. Countless times, over the course of these thirty years of writing, I have looked back at a piece of my own work and realized: so that’s what I was thinking. That’s what I was feeling. I had no idea.

Sitting with the discomfort of not-knowing, of the fearless excavation, is not easy — but it is simple. Any meditation teacher will tell you that the moment you feel you want to jump up from your cushion and make sure the stove is turned off, or write something down you’re sure you’ll otherwise forget, or even open one eye to see how many minutes are left to go – that is precisely the moment to stay the course. To allow yourself to be pierced by whatever it is that’s just beneath that impulse. What longing? What uncomfortable thought? What sorrow? What desire? The only way we can know is to be still enough to find out.

It’s a life’s work, this revelation. I’ve come to understand that there is no destination. Just as each book teaches me only how to write that particular book – no more, no less – each season of my life has new lessons for me. Beneath the translucent ice, more is thawing.





  • Beautiful. As always.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, my friend. xxx

  • Linda White Quennec

    You have articulated this in a way I’ve never thought of before. Thank you for your beautiful words.

    • Danishapiro

      You’re welcome!

  • ayala

    Beautiful <3

    • Danishapiro


  • Raymond Cothern

    As usual you perfectly articulate what it means to have “gold fever,” the constant itch even when solitary to begin again the mining with pen down, down, until the creative vein truly reveals itself.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Raymond. As always.

  • Oh what a beautiful metaphor on this rainy slushy day.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks 🙂

  • “Consider it a blessing, that part of you which you cannot see.” — Bruce Bond

    • Danishapiro

      Beautiful, Hannah.

  • Thanks for this. Love it.

    • Danishapiro

      You’re so welcome, Tina:)

  • Stunning. True. Grateful for your beautiful words.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Gail!

  • How beautiful..validates my thoughts about why I write ..it’s my church, my spiritual practice..Love the images of the world submerged under ice emerging. Gorgeous.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Kathy!

  • Rx for the winter blues–“fearless excavation”. This piece is lovely.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Evelyn!

  • As Donald Murray said — and this is the one thing I remember from a composition textbook I taught with 25 years ago — “Writing is thinking, not thinking written down.”

    • Danishapiro

      So true!

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  • Kim Cochrane

    Thank you for this – just what what I needed at this point in the fearless excavation I call my life…

    • Danishapiro

      You’re welcome! So glad.

  • Elizabeth Gracen

    Thank you for this thoughtful observation. Lovely imagery. I feel a warmth surfacing in my bones. I’m so excited to find out about you via Tara Mohr! Best, Elizabeth Gracen

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Elizabeth. Tara Mohr is wonderful and I’m glad that she made this connection!

  • Wendy Wood

    This is lovely. I have been tossing around this idea of ‘no destination’ lately. The mindset of more exploration, more moment-to-moment, more putting things out there and see how they develop, more seeing what gets uncovered (instead of over-thinking, over-planning, etc.) I have been sitting with a bit of discomfort lately myself, and the submerged is certainly revealing itself. In some amazing ways. Thanks for your post. Glad I read Tara Mohr’s email today!

    • Danishapiro

      Glad you stopped by, Wendy:)

  • Barbara White

    Thank you much for this beautiful piece. I have been encountering so many people of late encouraging me to return to writing, for me, and so your words are resonating for me. I am so grateful to have discovered you today.

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Barbara!

  • Madeline Norris

    You have so beautifully articulated what I am feeling at the moment, thank you xx

  • I love your story, thanks for taking your time to share it with us.

  • Melanie Wehrwein

    This is just what I needed to read, feeling that disconnect from my inner world after clearly much too long singing too many merry little tunes. Thank you, yet again, for sharing resonant and relevant insights.