Navigating the Swamp

I’m struggling to write about how to navigate the swamp, because it’s such an intensely personal experience, much more so than YMMV.  What it feels like, how long it lasts, the questions that pester like mosquitos—all of it comes from within, not from without.

If you know where you are and know where you want to go, if you have a map and a compass, you can effectively navigate the swamp. Your progress will be slow but certain.

But sometimes you don’t know where you are.

You think you know where you are, but you are mistaken.

I never got lost in the swamp behind Trent’s house because I was never in it without Trent. But I have been lost in a wilderness.

Google map showing part of the million-plus acres of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

When I lived in Minneapolis, I used to go backpacking with friends in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which we called the Boundary Waters or the BWCA. It’s 1,090,000 acres of wilderness at the border of Minnesota and Canada, with lakes that can be reached only by walking to them, lakes where motors aren’t allowed.

I have been backpacking in the BWCA many times and have been frightened only three times, when:

  1. It was late winter, and we were walking across a frozen lake that was not as frozen as we thought. We ended up lying on our bellies, pushing our backpacks ahead of us and slithering across the snowy ice as it cracked and echoed around us and through us.
  2. A moose chased us.
  3. We were wrong about where we were, and we were 13 miles from where we needed to be, and it was a hot summer day and we ran out of water before we got back to our cars.

I think the swamp is like that last one, and that’s one of the features of the transition, what makes it a swamp. We are not where we thought we were.

I thought I was in a happy marriage, but I was not. I thought when I moved to Newaygo with Trent that I had reached the end of my rainbow, but I had not. I thought I loved my job because I had loved my job, but it and I had both changed, and I did not love it anymore.

The first step to get through the swamp is to make an accurate assessment of where you are.

You might not be where you think.

Personal Update

As part of the podcast workshop I’m taking, we make 60-second episodes for practice. Here’s one about Leda. I did a week’s worth of episodes about her, starting on a Sunday. This one is from Tuesday, and here’s a photo to go with it:

Leda, my black on white greyhound, caught in a moment with her back on the grass and all four legs in the air

Chewing the Cud of Good

photo of sunset taken from an airplane, with a layers of clouds above and below and the sun shining through between

Thankful for hope, and for reminders of who we can be if that is who we choose to be.

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