Stranded in the Sargasso Sea!
In 1964, a cartoon premiered on Friday NIGHT called Jonny Quest. I was only 9 years old but I was instantly hooked. I can still recall sitting on our green Naugahyde* couch with a glass of chocolate milk and a miracle whip and mustard sandwich, eyes wide open watching a boy not too much older than me fighting lizard men in the middle of the haunted Sargasso Sea. Those images of rotting hulks of lost and abandoned ships covered with mold and sargassum seaweed still haunt my memories. Here is what Wikipedia says about this area:
The Sargasso Sea is a region in the gyre in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream; on the north, by the North Atlantic Current; on the east, by the Canary Current; and on the south, by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. This system of ocean currents forms the North Atlantic Gyre. All the currents deposit the marine plants and refuse they carry into this sea.
A gyre of refuse and rotting hulks; the ultimate graveyard of ships unwarily trapped in the doldrums; ships and sailors who drifted into the Sargasso Sea and were trapped forever! Here is a perfect description of a maelstrom of misery; a whirlpool of weariness; a prison for those who lose their wind; let their sails luff helplessly, rudderless — lost forever!
Well, I have been trapped in the Sargasso Sea for months now. And, there is no laser wielding boy scientist and his father on the horizon to save me. “What do you do when you have writer’s block?” I have been asked. Always, I have been able to answer this question by claiming that writer’s block has NEVER been my problem. But, what about life block? What happens when everything grinds to a halt and you can’t seem to get anywhere? What happens when crisis after crisis throws roadblocks and speed bumps before you? Life happens. Writer’s block is a symptom far down the line from a life that has been drawn slowly, inexorably into the Sargasso Sea!
It is no coincidence that in the midst of this time in my life, I am trying to finish a new manuscript on depression. I can officially announce that Mark Sutton and I have signed a new contract for an update to our depression book, “Conquering Depression”. Our hope is to launch a new website by July 1 showcasing our current book and helping those who are deep in the doldrums of depression. I guess I need to read my own book!
But, where I am right now is far more complex than depression. I once thought idealistically that there was a point in my adult life when my children would be grown up and on their own and my wife and I would have time for all of that traveling together; golden years of maturity and joy as a reward for a lifetime lived well and fully. I thought of this “golden” time as the years before retirement when we would still have the health and the energy to do whatever we wanted and the freedom to pursue decades of postponed dreams.
Instead, life has grown increasingly more demanding and complex. Aging parents demand more attention than our young children every did! Our grown children face challenges of their own my wife and I never had to deal with at that age. Life continues to happen, unrolling before us as a road with potholes and unexpected detours and roadblocks. How naive I was to think that life would ever be truly uncomplicated and simple. Life is not.
Here is why. Life is change. Life is growth. Life is pain. Life is joy. Life is NOT static. Life is dynamic. The only time when there will be no change; no growth; no pain is when we are dead. This is a startling revelation for me. To live is to face pain AND joy. The two cannot be separated. For, it is in the triumph over these challenges that we find the sweetest joy; the greatest contentment.
As my family journeys forward into the unknowable future, we have to cling to the concept that the Sargasso Sea can trap us, but there is a Navigator, a Pilot, a Captain who can lead us out of the doldrums. His breath is our wind; filling our sails with life and movement and joy.
I cannot even begin to imagine what life would be like trapped in the Sargasso Sea on a rotting hulk of a broken life totally alone without God. In the deepest, darkest moments of despair, God is still there. I may not be able to see Him but the defect is mine, not His. My glasses are clouded by the smears of angrily swiped tears. My eyes are closed against the pain I see in my life. But, if I open them; if I dare to look UP and away from the maelstrom of misery around me, I will see my Redemption is drawing nigh. My sails, though tattered and torn, can still fill with the breath of life and my ship can move out of the dead water into the living Water of life.
As my wife tells me, “Breathe!”. Yes, breathe; inspire; pause and let the breath of God renew you. Today, right now, this moment stilled and frozen in time — reach up with open hands, open arms, open heart to God. His warmth, His breath, His life will renew you as it renews me with each drawn breath.
Today, I choose to sail my broken, scarred ship out of the Sargasso Sea; out of the rotting hulks of depression and despair and defeat. I set my sight on a far shore with a fair sunrise and a promise of unconditional love! Join me and leave the Sargasso Sea behind!
*A marketing campaign of the 1960s and 1970s asserted that Naugahyde was obtained from the skin of an animal called a “Nauga”. The campaign emphasized that, unlike other animals, which must typically be slaughtered to obtain their hides, Naugas can shed their skin without harm to themselves. Naugahyde also was known as plastic leather or “pleather”.
For fun, check out this ‘redo’ of the intro to Jonny Quest in stop motion animation:
Posted on June 2, 2013, in Breaking News, My Writing and tagged conquering depression, Death, Depression, despair, doldrums, hopelessness, Joy, life, Sargasso Sea. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
You will break out of the Sea. It was so interesting what you wrote today because it reminded me of when I was talking to my son and he said “if you don’t have problems then you are not alive”!!!! Yikes!!! that one hit me and to come from a 23 year old!!!! but sometimes they do seem like mountains!!!!! I love you and Sherry and pray that all goes wel
l for you!!!!
Thank you for your kind words!
My dad was kind enough to rent VHS tapes of Johnny Quest at the local Video One when I was little. My personal favorite was “Skull and Double Crossbones.” But “The Mystery of the Lizard Men” was my very first exposure to Johnny Quest, and I was a fan instantly.
I know your family has been through so much the past few years, and your transparency has been both humbling and inspiring. It takes a great deal of courage to expose your doubts and uncertainties for the rest of the world to see, especially in a world where we are pressured so much to always “be okay.” But I know I have benefited from it, and I am sure that so many others have as well. You are doing a mighty work for the Kingdom, and its touching lives.
One more note to encourage you…I finally finished a first draft of that book I was working on last we spoke. And the conversation we had is what lit the fire under me to finish it. Still a long way from being ready for publishing, but its the first finished manuscript I’ve had since I started writing, and I have you to thank for it. So, from one writer to another, from one brother to another, thank you for what you do.
As usual, your comments are very, very uplifting. Thank you for your kind words. As to finishing the draft of a book, you have now accomplished what 90% of aspiring authors have failed to achieve — you finished your book! Of course, now the HARD work begins!!! Blessings and good fortune with your book.
Hope you’ve escaped the gyre Bruce. If you’re interested, that episode was based on a Doc Savage novel named “The Sargasso Ogre”, written by Lester Dent (writing as Kenneth Robeson).in 1933.
Oh, another Doc Savage fan! I did read that book and every book published way back in the late sixties and early seventies. I even stood in line to see the Ron Ely film (way too campy for me) and hung around in the empty theater afterwords to watch it a second time! Nice to find another Doc Savage fan!