Safe Haven in The Swampland


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.


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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4 Responses to Safe Haven in The Swampland

  1. Jane says:

    Wonderful metaphor and one I will remember…

    I often find that the “chocolate bar monster” is within me, either some unacceptable aspect of myself or my own projected fears. Others or other situations usually trigger these inner swamp things. Once I own them, they often amble off and leave me in relative peace, at least for the moment.



  2. 1sojournal says:

    Thanks Jane,

    for reading and leaving a comment. I think we all have an inner swampland, and many of us, avoid it because it is a singularly scary place to explore. I have been exploring for years, and it never becomes easy, but is always worthwile. Even if I don’t chance upon the bogeyman, I always take something worthwhile away with me. Like that quote, a line from a song, a piece of conversation from years in the past. Maybe someday, I might even come to love that swampland, but I doubt it, lol.



  3. That swampland you described, is in East Texas and Louisiana….the beginning of life, is in the swampland. A place we fear, and yet, so full of life. Maybe humans aren’t welcome? And our destructiveness, they need a place to call their own.

    And you are right. I have heard it said, before we come, we agree. This awful person will come to teach us those very hard lessons.


  4. 1sojournal says:

    My metaphor of my own swamping emotions wouldn’t be of much value if it didn’t describe a recognizable place. I like the fact that you call it the beginning of life. We all must, in some form, go through the socialization process, learning the rules of what is acceptable and how to be members of the community.

    In that process, we often mistakenly get rid of what might be defined as unacceptable by those around us. But Clarrissa Pinkola Estes says that nothing is ever completely lost within the human psyche. It may go missing, be exiled into the wilderness, or the swampland, but it isn’t dead or gone for good. It continues to exist and even grow in whatever part of the darkness we contain it in. It becomes a part of our “shadow”, that part of us we prefer to not know exists, yet occasionally raises its head and gets us into trouble.

    If they are essential to our growth process, you can bet they will come back, until we acknowledge them and heal whatever caused them to be denied in the first place. And again, I see all of that as Soul Work. And yes, sometimes the lessons are difficult and terribly hard, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to be learned. I’ve been through several of them in this last year, and just because I do understand the process, doesn’t mean the lessons are any less difficult. They aren’t.



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