Much beauty in the swamp

Do you like movies?
How about metaphors?

Back in 1982, Wes Craven ( Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes ) directed the ( very ) low budget movie, “Swamp Thing” based on the DC comics character of the same name.
A classic tale of a scientist working on a secret formula for something or other, in the backwater swamps of Louisiana only to get accidentally doused with his own chemical agent. He runs out of his lab, a flaming ball of schmutz and dives headfirst into the brown murky waters of the bayou. Only to reemerge as the Swamp Thing. A half man/half plant hybrid that looks like he probably smells like old ham.

The Swamp Thing spends most of time just kind of lurking in the shadows.
Sure he fights the bad guys. Overturns a boat. Beats up whatever the hell this thing is


But for a 90 minute movie, there seems to be an inordinate amount of time spent on lurking.

Also, there was a scene that showcased a beautiful and very topless Adrienne Barbeau gracefully bathing in the swamps. But it was left on the cutting room floor.

However, this scene made the final cut.


I guess the job of an editor is a thankless one. 

Anyway, this is not a movie review.
This is a post with a point.
A pointed post.

There is a scene midway through the movie where our swampy yet lovable hero gives Adrienne Barbeau an orchid and explains that “much beauty in the swamp, if you you only look”.

This is meant to be a callback to an earlier scene reveling that this mass of sentient cabbage is – or was – Dr. Alec Holland. But it’s also a metaphor for his current situation.

I use this to help illustrate, admittedly in a very roundabout way, two very important principals of life. In it’s broadest terms.

Beauty and Positivity.

Two things that work together and two things that I took for granted.

See, ever since my life went spiraling out of control and I landed face first into Mt Shitmore, I’ve spent A LOT of time taking stock of things.

…well taking stock and watching online porn.

There’s only so much blogging I can do.

And I realize that a metric fuckton of my issues could have been internally resolved if I had reframed them appropriately.

Now, I’m not saying there weren’t real unresolvable issues. There were. No doubt.
But there were a lot of things that landed me in the isolation I currently find myself in, that could have possibly been avoided with a better outlook and a more positive perspective.

Look, there’s no easy way to explain this, so I’ll just say, negativity breeds negativity.

…actually wait, that was pretty easy.
Yea. Negativity breeds negativity.
The universe is give and take and what you put out is ABSOLUTELY what you get back.

Throw out anger, anger is what you get back.
Throw out hate, hate is what you get back.
Throw out joy…you get the idea.
It’s like a boomerang, if boomerangs actually worked.

…no, they don’t work.
Just stop.
Don’t even try to convince me otherwise.

And it’s very very easy to get caught up in a circle of negativity.
It’s like a cyclone. Once inside, climbing back out takes tremendous effort and personal commitment.
And if you’re smart, you’ll do it before losing everything.
Or, conversely, if you’re like me, you’ll lose everything and then sit there wondering “How the fuck did I get here?”
And “here” sucks.

Not just the physical. But the mental, emotional and spiritual.

But this isn’t about me.
It’s about guys dressed like giant varicose veins fighting with…swords…for some reason.


No. It’s about finding beauty in whatever your current situation happens to be.
I know for some people that sounds at best, profoundly impossible and worst, incredibly offensive, but what’s the other option?
I’m not saying to bat your eyes, smile real wide and pretend everything is rainbow coated unicorn farts. For Christ’s sake, you’re listening to a guy who once spent a Thursday night with the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth trying to find a reason to live (more on that later).

No I mean to do your absolute damnedest to not get stuck looking into the eyes of darkness and get swallowed by the emptiness.

….ohhhh dramatic….

Life, for the most part, is what you make of it.
Not always, but lets say a solid 74.3%* of the time.
Which in the grand scheme of your entire life, is pretty significant.

And during that time, there are going to be moments when angry flaming piles of horse shit come a’ topplin’ down upon you.
In those moments, you’ve only got two choices.
Lay there defeated or climb your way out.

Regardless of your perspective, bad things will happen.
Whether by your own hand, the behavior of others or good old fashioned act of God.
Life is 21 flavors of ass-kickings interspersed with moments of brevity and the occasional overly eager TSA pat down.
“….no, that’s my dick. Yes I’m sure. Trust me. It’s my dick”**

But how you frame it, will, in most cases, make all the difference.
It’s the reason why people say things like “He’s in a better place now” when someone dies…or moves to South Carolina.
It’s because it’s a framing device.
And believe it or not, it does work. Just so long as you’re not trying to fool yourself.
See, there really is beauty in the swamp.
Literally and metaphorically.
You just need to know how to find it.
It’s not a question of “where to look”. It’s a matter of how to see it.
And recognizing it when you do.

Ok, I realize that so far this is all a bunch of ambiguous new age bullshit, right?
So how about a real world example.
How about Southern Nights.


Southern Nights. By Glen Campbell.
You’ve heard it. Don’t act like you haven’t.
Most people hear this song and admit that it’s catchy, but ultimately a disposable late 70’s pop song. Go ahead. Give a listen.

Like I said, catchy, right?
But did you know that Allen Toussaint wrote this song about the idyllic evenings growing up in Louisiana when he would travel into the country and visit with his older relatives. “They were people from our ancestors, and we loved them a lot,” he said. “This song was written about them.”
Glen Campbell chose to record this song because it reminded him of his rural childhood in Arkansas.
Now think about your childhood and allow yourself to experience the nostalgia.
“Free as a breeze
Not to mention the trees
Whistling tunes that you know and love so”
Think about growing up. Think about your friends. Think about your parents.
“Southern nights
Just as good even when closed your eyes
I apologize to anyone who can truly say
That he has found a better way”
Think about the things that made your childhood unique and specific to you.

“Southern skies
Have you ever noticed southern skies?
Its precious beauty lies just beyond the eye
It goes running through your soul
Like the stories told of old”
Now listen to the song again.
If you just look a little closer and reframe this song, it transcends being just disposable pop fluff balls and becomes something more intimate and personal.
This is a very tame and innocuous example. But important nonetheless.
You can’t look at a burning orphanage and say “My, what pretty colors. And those screams are simply symphonic”.
…well, you can if you’re a psychopath.
But you can see beauty where you wouldn’t normally look for it. You can find the remarkable in banality.
You can see the success in failure. You can see the forest through the trees (whatever the hell that actually means) and I can see that I’ve rambled on for 1346 words.

Lets all take a minute to look at this….


The point is, this life is yours to do with what you please.
….within reason…and the confines of your local laws.
Nobody can tell you what to do or how to live. Advice only goes so far and experience is always going to be the best teacher. Hindsight is 20/20 but just know that people rarely use that expression as an example of a positive decision.

If I could impress one thing, it’s that I don’t do impressions.
But if I did, I would say ( in a Christopher Walken voice ) don’t immediately fall victim to negativity. The only person you harm is yourself. Your perspectives have no bearing or long lasting effect on anyone else. Only you.
Like Jacob Marley, you forge your own shackles and chains one link at a time.


Do yourself a favor, take your Vitamin Vee and don’t end up a Jacob Marley.

The swamps are everywhere. They are unavoidable.
The tangible beauty lies just below the surface or in the sunbeams filtering through the trees. The true elegance is in our ability to see it.





*Any statistics in this blog are completely fictional. Seriously, most of the time I’m straight up out of my tits.

**Actual conversation I had at JFK airport.


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