Quicksand: Blazing Saddles Revisited

It is so easy to fall into the quagmire of a dry spell. Much like quicksand, they suck you in and immobilize you. As you get deeper into them, they smother your drive, your ambition, and and ability to move in ANY direction. I speak here from experience. I’ve been in and out of dry spells for the past year. Each time, I have broken free by choosing to embrace an inner quality that I will name below. Before sharing how I’ve broken free, let me tell you how I’ve managed to get stuck.

My cycle looks like this. I’ve managed to get unstuck. Out of fear of getting stuck again, I push myself harder than I pushed the time before. Up earlier, to bed later, work, work, work. That may have served me well when I was in my 20s. I’m now in my mid-50s. Eventually, I have pushed myself into burnout. At this stage, my body forces me to rest by getting sick. I lose all that momentum. Once I start to give myself the rest, I realize how much I need it, and do very little for one week, two weeks and then some. Then I see how far behind I am, and I get overwhelmed. Overwhelm takes over and I’m sinking, sinking, sinking.

One of the most powerful elements of the quicksand is fear. As I sink, I become more fearful. My fear quickens my descent. I’m now spiraling down faster and faster.

There is only one way out, and it can best illustrated with the scene where Bart and his friend have run a railroad handcar to the end of the tracks–right into a pool of quicksand. Through supreme effort, the pair pull themselves out.

The only way to end a dry spell is action. And no inner quality better serves you than FEARLESSNESS. Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. Nor do you have to force yourself to not fear. That isn’t possible. Fearlessness is the moving in spite of fear. It is action in the face of fear. To draw on another movie: in “Indian Jones and the Last Crusade,” the hero has to step off a cliff into nothingness: a “leap of faith.” He cannot see the mirror-finished bridge because it is reflecting the rocks, and therefore is invisible to Indy at the step off point. He steps, and then he can see, but not before.

That is how it is for me when I move forward in spite of fear. After the action—not before—I am able to see my way clear. It always works out. The only way it cannot work out is if I never take action.

So how do I stay out of the quagmire? I’ve learned a few lessons:
1) I cannot get down on myself for getting into the quagmire in the first place. The voice of self-condemnation is the siren call of the quicksand. It keeps me from taking risks. Without risk, there is no growth.

2) I cannot ignore the needs of my body. I need rest. By pushing myself so hard, what I am really doing is acting in fear of getting stuck. So I’m looking behind me, not ahead of me. If I move forward in an effort to avoid mistakes, then I’m focusing on past failure, rather than on crafting my future success.

3) Gratefulness. I have chosen to be grateful that I’m moving. This gives me joy in every forward step. My joy fortifies me.

I am sure that you can think of more than these three. If you do, please share them. Also, please share your stories of overcoming inertia.

’til next time,

Woody

2 Responses to Quicksand: Blazing Saddles Revisited

  1. Shama Kern says:

    To consciously decide to be happy no matter what is happening in my life works well for me.

  2. Jack Wells says:

    Your comment, “The only way to end a dry spell is action. And no inner quality better serves you than FEARLESSNESS. Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. Nor do you have to force yourself to not fear. That isn’t possible. Fearlessness is the moving in spite of fear. It is action in the face of fear.” is really great. I am going to pass this on to our Business instructor.

    Jack

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