Yesterday, I experienced the highest high and the lowest low in the past ten years of my existence. Then today, as will happen with the best laid plans, one link in the plan changed, the rest dropped to the floor with a clank, was swiftly melded into a new form, and within fifteen minutes was utterly rearranged again. Can you say whip-lash? Or better yet, swampland.
You know, that place where tree roots disappear into black water floating with five different types of suspicious looking algae, where mosquitoes look, sound, and feel like dive bombers, and whatever air there is, is filled solid with heat and strange earthy smells of decay or worse. Oh yes, and the sounds, strange echoes of hoots and hollers, suddenly muffled, then silenced completely as though stepped on by some giant unimaginable wild creature with an insatiable appetite for almost anything edible and some things that are not.
Sometimes emotional levels look and feel an awful lot like that swampland I just described. Getting lost in them, feels a lot like the need to sit down and maybe cry a bit, but just as in that swampland, how do you know if the place you might choose to sit is safe? After all, swamplands are famous for being the habitation of snakes, large and small and all sizes in between, as well as exotic and sometimes unrecognizable varieties of insects both lethal and not. And if you are like me, you just might not have that degree in swampland biology.
Between yesterday and today, was an hour this morning. I went to my journal and wrote. Within its pages, as I sorted through all the above landscape, I found a boat with an anchor, and all the supplies, including a pup tent and some chocolate bars, so necessary for survival in the midst of all of that sight, sound, and feeling.
But, I also chanced upon that slavering hungry monster as well. We suddenly stood face to face. My first thought was to throw my hands up in the air, cry “Foul,” (or better yet, “Oh, shit…”), and just give up. But instead, a quote I had found years ago, danced on the edges of my chaotic mind and I grabbed it. What else could I do?
Problem is, I can’t remember the exact words, only a sort of paraphrase of those words. It was in a little paper back novel that originally sold for about 79cents. I don’t remember the title of the book, just that it contained the word Legend. And of course, the author’s name is so much dust. So, I can’t cite it properly, but only write out the gist of what it meant to me.
Here goes: “One can learn the most important and necessary lessons of ones existence, from the very worst individuals and circumstances within that existence.” That was as far as I got while facing down that drooling wild creature with all of his fangs bared. As the words and their meaning swirled in my head, I had to smile. This might be the worst I had ever seen or confronted.
I carefully reached into the folds of that pup tent and came up with one of those chocolate bars. And offered it to the creature. He sniffed a bit, nodded and (I think) even smiled, took the proffered bar and shambled out of sight.
The chocolate bar was actually the end of the above (duly paraphrased and un-cited) quote, the most important part of the truth it holds.
“One can learn the most important and necessary lessons of ones existence, from the very worst individuals and circumstances within that existence, if ones heart is in the right place.”
There is no doubt in my mind, that my heart was in the right place, leading me to do exactly what I was supposed to do, in that moment I was examining so carefully on the operating table of my journal page. What’s more, the moment I heard those final words, I could hear and feel that same heart beating its slow steady, uniquely individual rhythms within me.
Today’s chaos has settled, I am out of the swampland, and may have made a new and exotic friend. I’ll bet his is quite a story.