Vortex (Definition) Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online
1.something that resembles a whirlpool
2.a. a mass of fluid (as a liquid) with a whirling or circular motion that tends to form a cavity or a vacuum in the center of the circle and to draw toward this cavity or vacuum bodies subject to its action;
b.a region within a body of fluid in which the fluid elements have an angular velocity
plural vortices also vortexes
To Whom It May Concern:
Have you ever looked at life and wondered if it was just some giant vortex waiting to pull us down into its whirling center and suck us dry? Doesn’t it seem to you that at some points in life we have no choice but to be pulled down into the whirlpool and face whatever meets us there.
What I’m trying to say is this: at times we go about life happily and unaware of the bad stuff that is about to effect us. We don’t even stop to think that there is something out there waiting to pull us down from our content reality. We think that we’re not in any danger, we believe that our life is just going to go along in the fantastic or at least normal way that is has gone then, wam! We are in this giant vortex and no matter what we do we can’t seem to wriggle our way our way out of our problems or a situation we could potentially find growth in.
A Canadian poet, Margaret Avison, once described a vortex as whirlpool. That the whirlpool was a defining moment in our life and different people faced this defining moment in 3 different ways. Here is the poem so you might read it; it’s one of my favorites from high school. It’s called The Swimmer’s Moment.
THE SWIMMER’S MOMENT
From: Winter Sun. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962. pp.36
The swimmer’s moment at the whirlpool comes,
But many at that moment will not say
“This is the whirlpool, then.”
By their refusal they are saved
From the black pit, and also from contesting
The deadly rapids, and emerging in
The mysterious, and more ample, further waters.
And so their bland-blank faces turn and turn
Pale and forever on the rim of suction
They will not recognize.
Of those who dare the knowledge
Many are whirled into the ominous centre
That, gaping vertical, seals up
For them an eternal boon of privacy,
So that we turn away from their defeat
With a despair, not for their deaths, but for
Ourselves, who cannot penetrate their secret
Nor even guess at the anonymous breadth
Where one or two have won:
(The silver reaches of the estuary).
I think that I love this poem because it demonstrates how we — the swimmer — face the difficult or defining moments in our life. Some people see that moment (the whirlpool) and do not realize it is a defining moment in their life. They are saved from “the black pit and also from contesting” because they never try to see the grand and great wonders that could be on the other side of the vortex (the whirlpool). They never get to see ” [t]he mysterious, and ample, further waters.” In fact, Avison writes that those who do not dare the whirlpool miss their purpose, a greater knowledge because they are too afraid to swim into the vortexes in their life.
Those who never risk also do not recognize the “eternal boon of privacy” of those “whirled (in the vortex’s) ominous center” and who are defeated by the whirlpool. Not all of us make it past the defining moments in our lives. Some of us are destroyed by them but I think Avison believes it is still worth it to take risks and enter the whirlpool. Even those who are gone, who we ” . . . despair, not for the deaths, but for / [o]urselves who cannot penetrate their secret,” even in risking themselves those who are defeated by the whirlpool have gained a knowledge that those of us who have never swam into the whirlpool cannot guess at.
Nor can those who have not “penetrated” the whirlpool, swam into the vortex, understand “[w]here one or two have won /( [t]he silver reaches of the estuary). ” Some people set out to meet their defining moment at the whirlpools edge and they swim through the vortex of the whirlpool and come out with a special knowledge, with a special purpose, having gained wonderful and subliminal riches by taking their swimmer’s moment at the whirlpools edge.
I think in this poem Avison encourages us to take risks in our lives. So when it seems like everything is going fine and you become sucked into a vortex, something new and exciting, somewhere or something where we are at our own peril please take up that challenge. You will never see ” . . . the silver reaches of the estuary.” what magnificent adventures await you in life if you don’t set out to find your purpose. You will never gain knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of yourself, if you cannot meet the challenges of the “[t]he [s]wimmer’s [m]oment” in your lives. If you cannot make it through the bad times, the times that make you grow, and understand yourself as a person, you will be missing out. Your loss will be greater than those people who risk bad times in their lives and never make it through them.