Dani Shapiro
April 17, 2017

On the Whirlwind

I’ve been doing my best to meditate for twenty minutes each morning  These twenty minutes are always essential, but now more than ever as my life kicks into high gear due to the publication of Hourglass.  My mind — hungry, searching, grasping, anxious, hopeful, eager, comparing, nervous, scanning the future — needs all the help it can get.  It’s easy to get caught up in stuff I can’t control.  To attempt to micromanage the universe.  And, as we know, the universe doesn’t respond so well to micromanaging.

This morning, as I sat in my little room, the house quiet, my husband downstairs in his office, the fluffy white dog sleeping by the closed door, I had the vision of myself sitting on the edge of a cliff.  It wasn’t a scary cliff. The jagged edge, the precipitous drop didn’t feel ominous in my vision.  Instead, I felt lashed by the weather.  I sat still as a statue as the wind howled, the rain pelted me.  I welcomed it.  This too, this too, this too.  When faced with a whirlwind, there are only two options, it seems to me.  Fight it, or ride it. 

I have spent too much of my life afraid.  Thinking small.  Keeping my dreams manageable, making sure not to ask or hope for too much.  This stance was self-protective, adaptive.  If we don’t dream big, we won’t get hurt, or so this way of thinking goes.  A week ago, my husband and I were still in Italy, walking the steep winding paths of Capri with friends.  The next day was my birthday, and it was a day full of joy.  We basked in the afternoon sun in Ravello, and talked about real things, big things, some painful things, surrounded by staggering beauty, as we ate the most delicious food and drank the palest rosé.  This too, this too, this too.  The thing about birthdays, and about publications, is they are markers — a way of reminding us that time is passing.  Are we seizing the moment by living inside of it — by being fully present for whatever is? 


Sometimes when I sit silently in the mornings, I feel tears pricking my eyelids. The deep welling of a lived life rising within me.  All the beauty, all the terror.  This is where I want to stay — right here in the dead center of my inner life as the whirlwind does what it will, what it must.