Natalie Goldberg’s Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America Essay

Natalie Goldberg’s Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America Essay

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Natalie Goldberg’s Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America


“I don’t think fate is a creature, or a lady, like some people say. It’s a tide of events sweeping us along. But I’m not a Fatalist, because I believe you can swim against it, and sometimes grasp the hands of the clock face and steal a few precious minutes. If you don’t you’re just cartwheeled along. Before you know it, the magic opportunity is lost, and for the rest of your life it lingers on in that part of your mind which dreams the very best dreams—taunting and tantalizing you with what might have been.” (from the film Flirting, 1990)

“Every moment is enormous, and it is all we have” (Goldberg xii). Natalie Goldberg offers her readers the opportunity to recognize the delicate nature of life and the importance of slowing down one’s life. In her autobiography, Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America, she invites readers to journey along her path to awakening in an effort as an author to “pass on her breath” (22). By capturing her message and holding it close to one’s heart, the reader grasps the essence of Goldberg’s message. It becomes clear that awakening can take on many forms and can be reached by different roads, but it is all centered on one goal: to go within oneself and find inner peace and understanding. Through her exploration of America, teaching, spirituality, impermanence, and writing, and through her writing style and language, Goldberg sends her readers along their own long, quiet highway.

The main point one might gather from Goldberg’s discussion of America is that Americans need to slow down all aspects of their lives, need to take the small components of life and make them significant. Goldberg sees an impatience in Ame...


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...er to her affectionately as simply Natalie. In fact, it seems strange to refer to her as merely the author of a narrative—she has most assuredly transmitted her being through her writing, most definitely made a connection. There are few times when she outwardly addresses the reader, so when she does, she calls attention to the importance of the event she is describing. “Understand,” she implores, causing the reader to sense the urgency and the great impact of what she is describing. When she describes Rinpoche as “fluid energy” (87), she wants readers to know this was really how she experienced him. Hers was a vital discovery, one of experiencing people. Natalie reaches readers. She cannot be disconnected from her work because hers is the breath we capture.

Works Cited

Goldberg, Natalie. Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.

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