Hurricanes are circular storms that revolve (counterclockwise) as they move in a linear direction. That means the prevailing winds are blowing southward as a hurricane makes landfall, and then northward once the eye passes and the back side passes through. This phenomenon came to me years ago while listening to a public radio report about a hurricane, and the idea grew into a “what if?” that is often the kernel of a story. Is it theoretically possible that the reversal of wind direction might set things back as they were? My new novel, “Back Side Of A Hurricane,” which will be published later this year, explores the idea that when chaos swirls around you, it is wise sometimes to simply sit still, knowing that things will somehow come around right again.
In a small way, I see this played out in the class I am currently teaching. My students, freshman and sophomore premeds, are currently caught in the hurricane of the first exams of their Spring semester, and I think my one-hour seminar serves as a brief respite, a time to sit still and ponder the role of empathy, compassion, and altruism in the profession that they’ve chosen to pursue. Outside of our classroom, chemistry, calculus, and other difficulties swirl about, while in our sanctuary, we sit in the quiet and discuss how narrative can teach us to be healers. They are usually smiling as they depart, ducking their heads against the wind, hopefully better prepared to endure the storm.