“What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can’t move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won’t be troubling you much longer.” Douglas Adams
When I was a child, I thought of Florida as one giant swamp full of alligators and snakes and bugs, but mostly alligators. I have since learned that the Florida Everglades is a vital part of the global ecosystem……with alligators thrown in for fun. (My apologies to anyone who lives in these places, I realize that there are many amazing geological, cultural, gastronomic, and entertainment options in this part of the U.S.) Even now, the thought of encountering an alligator, the way I have encountered bears in different places I have lived and camped, does NOT make me an over-eager visitor to these locations.
It is a common, if unfair, concept that a swamp is simply just an unpleasant place to be: humid, sticky, full of bugs that sting, snakes that bite, and any number of large-toothed animals that might be lurking in the murky water. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in a swamp. After all, most people prefer to quickly pass through a place that they see as so unpleasant.
“Most of the time it was probably real bad being stuck down in a dungeon. But some days, when there was a bad storm outside, you’d look out your little window and think, “Boy, I’m glad I’m not out in that.”” Jack Handy
Sometimes, if you just change your perspective a little, you might think of the swamp as a spa retreat instead of a dungeon. You might be waiting for something else, but in the meantime, you have time for some self-reflection and renewal that will be more difficult when you get to the busy, tour Epcot-Disney World-Sea World destination. Perspective can help you see your surroundings in a way that will change you.
Maybe the reason you are here waiting is because what needs to change is you.
“Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.” – Malcolm S. Forbes
When I was a child playing Candy Land, I inevitably ended up in Molasses Swamp. Usually, I stayed there while turn after turn the other people who were playing landed safe and sound at Candy Castle. Life, as I have found, often sends me back to Molasses Swamp. I see many others breeze on by heading straight for Candy Castle, or so I assume.
The real journey of life, however, is full of surprises like grace, mercy, and hidden bends where the over-confident spin out and wind up as unfortunate guests of Lord Liquorice and have other much less pleasant adventures. We never really know about the struggles of those around us, or whether their seemingly perfect lives are really something we would want to face.
Many of us are similarly stuck in Molasses Swamp, waiting as our characters are honed and polished into the amazing kinds of people fit to walk through the gates of Candy Castle. In the meantime, we can all learn to enjoy our “time out” by helping each other endure; encouraging, assisting, and bolstering one another up. Some people are stuck in the Swamp for quite a long time. Their spirits fail, like the Horse Artax in the Neverending Story, and they sink below the surface, never to be seen again.
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. ” Romans 15 : 1-4