I received a message from one of my friends, joking that for the next mom’s morning out, we should do a swamp walk. Attached to her message was a link.
I was intrigued. Coming from Minnesota, I had never heard of such an activity, and it sounded like a bad idea, because…..alligators?
I clicked on the link. It detailed how you can sign up to be led on a walk through the swamp. Not on boardwalks, but in the water. The particular one I was looking at was rated 5/5 difficulty and was a 5 mile adventure through “a couple inches to a couple feet of water.”
My brain lit up. It sounded like something I was capable of. I love spending time outside, and a swamp walk sounded so… nature-y.
The stars aligned: I was somehow able to convince life insurance actuary husband who is healthily fearful of alligators and snakes to approve of my participation in such an event. AND, I was able to find a babysitter. So, I registered. Shockingly, none of my friends were
interested willing to risk their lives.
So last Thursday morning, under the pink skies of sunrise, I found myself driving to the swamp walk with a considerable amount of anxiety.
I had already tried to talk myself out of it the day before, the survival-motivated side of my brain arguing that my allergies could be COVID and I should definitely not go and infect other people.
As I drove, my brain continued to bring up other valid arguments against attending: being unable to find the remote parking lot, alligators, snakes, not being able to keep up with the group, but mostly- the highest fear- was spending five hours, doing a rather intense activity, with a group of people I didn’t know.
As I ran through a list of the worries on loop, it occurred to me that often, when I am facing something I feel a lot of resistance towards- something that scares the crap out of me- it usually means I am on the right path.
I’ve encountered these moments before jumping off the diving board, before entering a room full of people I don’t know. The seconds that lead up to giving a speech, the pause before the gun goes off at the start of a race.
For me, these moments are marked by a racing heart, flip floppy stomach, and sweaty palms. I do not enjoy being in these moments. In fact, I almost despise them. I would completely despise them if I didn’t know, if I hadn’t learned, that these moments typically occur right before something great happens.
Usually, pushing through the resistance brings me to new places, new people, the opportunity to try something new. And almost always, I leave with a sense of accomplishment.
Maybe, these moments that I try to avoid should be sought out.
And so, as I turned off on a remote dirt road, lined by tall skinny cypress trees, hitting approximately 5 potholes per second, I ignored the voice in my head that said, “This looks like a spot you could get murdered.” And instead of following the voice in my head, I followed the dirt road, to a parking lot filled with the friendliest nature geeks you’ll ever meet and a disgusting port-a-potty.
The thing I had feared most- awkward moments with strangers- didn’t happen. I forgot that nature people are some of the most down to earth, hilarious, and friendly people.
We slogged through the water, stopping to look more closely at snail eggs, swamp apples, and the Lincoln Log cocoons of bagworm moths. We found a turtle, watched a water moccasin slither away, noticed a hawk feather, and then the hawk above, camouflaging into the tree, watching us curiously.
It was 5 hours of wonder, and it left me more refreshed than a massage. There is something about spending time surrounded by the color green. I left with muddy feet and new friends. It turns out, swamp walks are really good for the soul. Maybe just my soul?
Whatever it is for you, here’s to following the path of resistance. I’d highly recommend you give it a try. Safely. With other people. Because, as my mom reminded me, even the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s nuns) go out in pairs. Which is precisely the motherly advice I’d expect to receive after walking through a swamp containing alligators and snakes.
PS- I didn’t take any pictures in an effort to remain fully present. But you can check out this website for pictures and learn a bit more about “Wet Walks”.