Tag Archives: survival

Swamp Survival

Making it across the swamp, all the way to solid ground, has been a scenario oft repeated in my life. I shared my original swamp story on this blog last week. That story has spawned much pondering and many conversations over the years — with family and friends and strangers.

Though details may vary, the realities of swamp stories are:

  • feeling lost
  • wandering in unfamiliar territory
  • fearing the unknown
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • being abandoned
  • lacking knowledge of how to proceed
  • unsure of survival
  • hopelessness

Maybe your life doesn’t feel like a swamp that threatens to suck you to its muddy bottom. Perhaps your life is more like a zoo, filled with interesting creatures at every turn, all demanding food and attention, and cages that need to be cleaned. Maybe it’s like the desert, where safe shelter and cool water are scarce, and loneliness covers you like the night sky. Or perhaps you’re in the forest, where all the trees look alike, the trail has disappeared, and the night noises steal your sleep.

So what’s a person to do when you feel abandoned and scared and have no idea if you’ll ever set foot on solid ground again?

1. Take courage and share your fear — even with a stranger. You’ll find you’re not the first person who’s been lost in a swamp.

2. Assess what you have — your life, a bit of energy, the ability to look ahead, perhaps just for a tree trunk to hold onto for a bit.

3. Rest — life looks better after we’ve allowed ourselves to be restored.

4. Move forward — there’s no value in continuing to look behind you at what has already been.

5. Check your boots — lest the swamp water flows in the top and sinks you.

6. Keep your lunch dry — guard carefully those things that nourish you, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. They are your lifeline.

You can make it to solid ground.

Until next Tuesday . . .


I was gone for ten days in early May. Though I’m not a worrier, I confess I was concerned about my recently landscaped back yard, my pots of herbs, and my gorgeous blue and yellow pansies that had been blooming since March. I watered heavily before I left but I was certain I’d return to a botanical graveyard.

Much to my surprise, the pansies were still blooming when I got home. In fact they were as lovely as ever. The mint nearly died, as well. I cut it back and hoped the little green nubbins would grow. The little pot of cilantro was the only casualty.

I nearly drowned my plants for four days. Then I left again for an undetermined amount of time. The two friends who were willing to water both have upper body joint issues that would be aggravated by hose dragging. So I left my garden untended, for who knew how long.

In situations like this, I often think, “What’s the worst that could happen — in my back yard?” All my plants will die. Then I forged a plan — just in case: I’ll buy new plants when I return.

A garden without water was beyond my control. If everything died, so be it.  Anything better than the worst outcome would be like icing on the cake.

Once I had a plan, I put my garden out of my daily thoughts. No reason to worry or fret or lose sleep over something I can’t do anything about.

Thirteen days later I returned home and rushed to my backyard garden.  Unpacking the car could wait til later.

The pansies were still blooming. The mint was two inches high and thriving. And . . . the hydrangeas were in full bloom — two bushes loaded with peppermint pink flowers. What a “Welcome Home” sight they were. Double icing on my cake with raspberry filling. That’s how happy I was!!

That night I watered for a long time, giving each plant a much-needed shower from my hose. I wanted them to experience my gratitude for their survival during three weeks of drought. They must have sent their roots deep in search of water and nourishment.

We need deep roots for our survival.  In the midst of trying times. When life is chaotic. When we have reason to expect the worst. When disappointments overwhelm.

Even then there can be moments of kindness. A shining star in the dark. A note of music in the noise. A touch in the loneliness. A smile with the tears.

A flower in your garden when you expected everything to be dead.

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Until next Tuesday . . .