Life is a journey. At times I’ve picked up the oars and rowed the hell out of my little boat with drive and direction. At times I’ve taken the easy path and just floated down the rather boring river. A few years ago, I ended up stuck in a swamp. I didn’t know where I was and I had lost the oars entirely. There seemed to be dangers all around me so getting out and walking to shore didn’t seem like a good idea. And I was afraid to choose a direction and head that way. It might be the wrong direction. I might go the wrong way and end up somewhere darker and scarier. Maybe I didn’t have the strength to go anywhere. Maybe I would be lost in the swamp forever.
It wasn’t a totally bad thing to sit there in my little boat for a while. I needed to inventory the supplies I had. I needed to do my best to figure out how I got there. I needed to understand my options and my goals. I needed to recover from the storms that brought me to the swamp in the first place.
After a while, the swamp just seemed like home. I grew used to its routine, the sounds around me, the irritations and frustrations. There wasn’t a lot of hope. Things were pretty much the same day to day. At least I was safe, here in my boat. And that counts for something because everything outside my boat felt really unsafe. It still does.
There are times that the swamp is particularly dark and I am filled with despair. I know, or feel I know, that it is hopeless. I can never leave this swamp. Sometimes I think I can live here. I can make do. This swamp is not nearly as bad as it could be. Many people don’t even have this little boat I have. So I am grateful for this boat. It may be uncomfortable and there may not be much of a view, but I’m dry and safe.
Sometimes I look around and I see the swamp for what it is. I know there are better places out there. I know I am in some control over my boat. I think perhaps I have not lost my oars entirely, perhaps I just need to find them again. So I make plans. I think about the fantastic places I could go and how my boat really could be a yacht, not just a dingy. And I imagine it is so. When I open my eyes again, I’m still in the swamp. Imagining something is different doesn’t make it so.
The journey out of this swamp is going to take time. It’s going to be hard and sometimes I’m not going to feel like rowing. There will be days I give up and think the swamp is not so bad. But it is possible that as I row, I will find some things I thought I was missing. Maybe I will find strength and courage and determination. Maybe I’ll find other people who are working their way out of the swamp. Or maybe I’ll take the hand of one who offers me hope. If I don’t do something then I am doomed to stay here. I really don’t think that is what I want.