Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Walk Through the Jungle...Part I

Imagine for a moment that you wish to go live with a native tribe down in the Amazon jungle. You pack your bags and fly to the nearest airport. From there they transport you by boat up the river to a landing in front of a dense jungle. The entire tribe is waiting there to great you.

The tribal chief explains to you that if you want to be part of his tribe you will have to undergo a test to prove your worth. Slightly worried, you ask what the test is. All you have to do is to travel through the deep, dark jungle to the other side by yourself. Being the adventurous sort you accept the challenge.

The test begins with a ritual bathing after which they dress you in a while robe. All of the tribe wishes you luck and you are set off into the jungle alone. At first you are very nervous. The jungle is like nothing you have ever seen. There are bizarre and wonderful sounds that both delight you and scare the bejesus out of you. You continue to walk cautiously but soon become accustom to the jungle. After a while you start whistling a pleasant tune while skipping along the jungle path.

And that’s when it happens. The ground under your feet gives out and you fall head first into a pit of quicksand. The quicksand is only knee deep at first but as you try to make your way to the end of the pit you slowly begin to sink. The more you sink the more frightened you become. The more frightened you become the harder you struggle to get out. The harder you struggle the faster you sink. Now you are up to your armpits and full blown panic sets in. There is no bottom to this pit.

As you sink up to your chin you realize two things; first – there is no way you can get yourself out of this pit. Second – You are going to die alone in this jungle.

You cry out for help. You begin to sob and yell louder. Just when you start to lose all hope the tribal chief steps out of the jungle and stands at the edge of the pit. You reach up to him and cry, “Please save me.” He reaches down, taking your hand in his and pulls you out of the quicksand. You stand wet, covered in muck and more grateful than you ever have felt in your life. Your clean, white robe is filthy.

The tribal chief looks at you and shakes his head. He takes his canteen off of his belt and pours water over your head. The water washes away the muck and the grime making your robe white again. He smiles at you and tells you to beware of the quicksand. Before you get a chance to thank him he disappears back into the jungle.

You calm yourself and begin walking down the jungle path again. You try to be cautious, looking carefully at every step. You hear a monkey call to her mate in the jungle canopy far above you. You squint your eyes trying to find the monkeys and as your eyes leave the path you fall into another pit of quicksand.

Your mind immediately goes into panic and you call out for help once again. This time help doesn’t come. You yell over and over as you slowly sink into the pit. As you sink up past your waist you can feel bottom under your feet and you’re able to walk over to the edge of the pit and climb out. You are once again wet and covered in muck and grime but you are alive.

You walk even more cautiously than you did the last time. It does not matter how cautious you try to be, every time you take your eyes off of the path you find yourself in another pit of quicksand. Each time you sink to a different level. Sometimes you sink up to your neck. Other times you sink only to your knees. Every time you call for help no help comes but you are able to climb out of the pits and continue on your way.

Each time you fall into the quicksand you find that you get out just a little bit dirtier, a little bit heavier with the water and the muck. It is starting to become harder and harder to walk down the path. You find yourself just trudging along barely able to move. You get so heavy that you can’t even stand anymore. You slowly crawl along the path, weary and ready to give up.

Just when you have given up all hope and reach your breaking point you crawl into a small clearing in the jungle. Sitting on a log in the clearing is the tribal witch doctor. You labor over to him and take a seat next to him. You tell him that you cannot go any further and you are ready to give up. He looks you up and down and smiles. Then he begins to laugh. He explains to you that every member of the tribe had to journey the same path you had just taken, even the tribal chief. Every member of the tribe fell into the same pits you had. Each had to be saved the first time. Each became weighted down with the grime from the other pits to the point they could no longer move. He tells you that the only two people who ever made it through the jungle without falling into the quicksand was the tribal chief and his mother.

The witch doctor tells you that you were never really alone on this journey. The entire tribe stood in the jungle watching, ready to lend assistance if it were really needed. He pulls a canteen that you recognize as belonging to the tribal chief from his belt and he begins to wash the dirt and grime off of your robe. As the mud and muck trickles away the white of the robe starts to shine through. With the burden of the extra weight removed you now feel energized. The witch doctor puts his arm around you and walks you out of the jungle where the entire tribe is waiting to welcome you to the tribe with a big feast. You have never been happier in your entire life.

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