Whirling Dervish

With sustained winds from 125 to 185 miles/hour, why did it take so long for Hurricane Irma to cross the Caribbean? It was days, not hours, from landfall on Barbuda to landfall on Florida: a distance of about 1,500 miles.

The answer, of course, is that hurricanes are circular storms. The quoted speeds are for those winds whipping around the eye, but the forward speed of the whole storm averages only 15 to 20 miles/hour, and some don’t make even that, or not all the time.

Irma’s center was 125 miles southeast of Key West at 4 p.m. ET Saturday
and moving west-northwest at 9 mph.
““ CNN

To pick a perspective with which I have no personal contact, that forward speed is less than winning marathoners achieve: about 12 miles/hour.

But I do grok the difference between whirling speed and forward speed.

Internally, it’s the difference between making noise in my head and applying some discipline to make sense, albeit gradually, of the world around me and in me. It’s the difference between flailing in pain and moving through it.

Externally, it’s the difference between broadcasting non-stop and leaving space for others. It’s the difference between being busy and being productive.

As I watch the TV coverage in dismay, the destructive power of atmospheric whirling reminds of its potential for destructiveness in my own life.





This entry was posted in Feeling Clearly, New Perspectives, Relationships and Behaviour and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Whirling Dervish

  1. A thoughtful and perceptive post.
    Be the seeing eye in the center of the storm?

  2. Tom Watson says:

    It must be scary to be caught in one of those storms.

    Your item on this gave me a new word. Grok. I don’t think I have ever encountered that word before. Thanks for adding to my vocabulary.

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    I’d heard “grok” before, but I had not made the symbolic connection between whirling hurricane, and the whirling of the Sufi mystics. Is there, perhaps, a wisdom within the whirling (ignoring the destructive power of the winds)? Does one have to go round and round and round to be able to advance forward?
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I don’t know. I guess the Sufi Dervishes use twirling as a form of meditation (me, I would just throw up), as a means to quiet the whirling in their heads, if I may paraphrase. I get that: I used to use Tai Chi for the same purpose. I had to concentrate so hard on the moves, that any inner agitation subsided. For me, though, I figure I only have so much energy. I can use up it going around (and around), or moving somewhere (even if not necessarily ahead).

  4. Ian Hepher says:

    Is “grok” a word now, Isabel? I remember it from “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ian – You remember aright. It’s been in use since 1961 when Heinlein published his book, so a word in that sense, yes. Oxford and Merriam-Webster both include it, so I’d say that’s definitive.

Comments are closed.