click image to enlarge

Long Quiet Highway

Waking Up in America
Paperback Book
February, 1994
$23.00 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

Natalie Goldberg’s earlier books on writing were Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. They have sold mucho thousands of copies because they address something deeper in the reader than simply the desire to write. They point the way to a more authentic existence, a new grounding within the self and in the world. With Natalie, we may

see writing as a way to break through our own inertia and become awake, to connect with our deepest selves. . . . But becoming awake is not easy. One must be persistent under all circumstances and it is not always exciting. It is hard. It is a long quiet highway.

Long Quiet Highway takes us on her own spiralling and somewhat zany journey of awakening from the profound sleep of a suburban childhood. From the high school English classroom where she first listened to the rain, to her fifteen years as a student of Zen Buddhism, she captures both the moments of illumination and the long discipline of daily practice, the hilarity of error and the grief of our resistance to change.

She writes most tenderly and intensely about Katagiri Roshi, the Zen master under whom she developed her writing both as a livelihood and a spiritual path. Here we see a great teacher at work, challenging his students daily to face their own lives—and even, ultimately, the fact of death.

“Yes.” He turned and smiled. I felt the presence of every cell in his body. “When you take care of something, it lives a long time.”

My mouth fell open. Suddenly, I didn’t know anything, but for a moment I knew I didn’t know anything, and that was a great opening. This human being before me was present. We could say, “Be here now,” my generation, but I’d never encountered anyone before who was present, so I’d never had a real vision of what that meant. Roshi was just there, every cell of him. . . . That kind of presence was like a brick wall and I slammed against it, shattering all my disparate parts: the yellow curtains, my marriage, the Minnesota expressway, my upbringing, my years of sitting in Taos, my notebooks and poetry; all went rolling on the floor. . . .

Though even then I didn’t know what it was, I knew it was good to be that startlingly present. And in seeing it, that possibility awoke in me. I had a vision of something whole.

Long Quiet Highway is written in a personal and contemporary voice that feels like a friend’s kitchen table, with talk of familiar places and spaces in the North American dharma landscape.

“Whether Natalie Goldberg tells us about her own life or that of her beloved teacher, underneath her writing there is always a dakini accompaniment, a tinkling bell of understated humor, and in the bass a great booming drum—this heartbeat representing the only thing that can save anyone—intense and perfect longing.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves.

That’s how it was in Zen. You’d feel uncomfortable sitting, knees up, you’d bounce, and then know you’d found your life’s path. It didn’t make logical sense. Something else besides the rational mind was at work. Something quiet, direct, and true, the way being in the presence of a forest feels.

Publisher’s Description: 

Community Reviews

Login or Register to post a review