Whirlpool from Hell
Whirlpool from Hell
Drive a couple hours West from New Orleans and you’ll discover Lake Peigneur, now a serene body of water but once the sight of the scariest whirlpool ever seen. On November 2, 1980, a Texaco drilling crew, sinking an exploratory shaft through the 1300-acre freshwater lake’s bed, unexpectedly punctured a salt mine directly beneath the lake.
In short order, the lake drained like a bathtub, sucking down the drilling rig, a tugboat, eleven barges, several mobile homes, and large chunks of the shoreline. The Delcambre Canal which carried overflow from the lake into the Gulf of Mexico, actually reversed direction and filled the now significantly deeper reservoir with brackish water. The cause of this mega-disaster was finally traced to Texaco’s engineers using the wrong kind of map to place their drilling rig.
Stuck in a Whirlpool of Distraction and Doubt
Depending on who you listen to, “How we live defines how we think.” or else “How we think defines how we live.” Maybe they’re both right; maybe they’re both wrong. One thing’s for sure – we’re all caught in a whirlpool of distraction and doubt. But regardless of which philosophical chicken or egg came first, our actions will always provide an unflinching barometer of our beliefs.
I can’t remember if it was Henry Cloud or Larry Crabb that said we live in a culture of self-absorbed individuals, so caught up in the minutia of our own problems that we never take time to show kindness to a stranger (even if prompted to do so) unless we believe that stranger can further our own agenda. Whichever one of them said it, after performing my own experiments, I have to agree.
So where does that leave us? Is simply being nice to everyone we meet a sufficient answer? Is there no further meaning in life than just being “good” people in a bad world? I would suggest that until we lay aside what Os Guinness calls our “Weapons of Mass Distraction” whether they be toys, people, or activities, and begin to seek the Truth behind our existence, we won’t be able to rise above the contemporary notion that “meaning” and “morality” are only what the reigning elite say they are. Until we understand there is more to life than personal peace and affluence, we will continue to waste the short timespan allotted to each of us on this planet.
How do we escape our own personal whirlpools of futility? How do we start rescuing others who are spiraling – either unwittingly or by choice – downward into a sophistic abyss that only results in anger and bitterness? How do we earn the right to have honest conversations and point out the flaws in others’ world views while granting them the right to point out hidden defects in our own personal philosophy? How do we learn to swim?
Some of us learned to swim through the patient guidance of an experienced instructor, maybe even a loving parent. Some of us learned to swim when an older acquaintance pushed us into deep water and shouted, “Swim or sink dumb-ass.” Our social-media-obsessed society is the equivalent of that mean-spirited, uncaring acquaintance and it could care less whether or not we sink. All it cares about is conformity because non-conformity and people who seek Truth apart from a consensus-based definition pose a threat.
Genuine progress only occurs in honest one-on-one relationships where we can trust each other’s support each time we begin to sink. But that’s not easy. It’s far easier to bask in the comfort of our myriad distractions and blame others for the ills of society. If we seriously want to find meaning in life, and to share that meaning, we must first develop a mindset that values Truth above comfort.
Which Way Now?
Finding all the answers may not be achievable in this lifetime but that’s not the point. Joining the search is the point. We don’t need to know all the answers before engaging with our culture but, unlike those Texaco drillers, we better have a trustworthy map. Where you find that map is up to you. Just know that if it’s the wrong kind of map, a nasty sinkhole could be in your future. Find the right map, however, and you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime! The journey starts with one question and one admonition — “What am I doing to fix what’s wrong?” and “Don’t give up before you learn the lesson.” Jump in — the water’s fine!
If you’d like to get together and compare maps, just hit “Reply”. I’ll buy you a coffee or beer so we can quench our thirsts while we talk
You are not my friend if you pat me on the back and tell me everything will be ok. You are my friend if you look me in the eye and compassionately reveal my blind spots – not in order to feel better about yourself but with the honest intention of rescuing me from my own peril. Let’s meet for coffee and start learning how to be friends. Hit Reply and I’ll buy the coffee.
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
— C.S. Lewis
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Things to Consider
Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown
Dealing with our own prejudices and learning to trust others despite our differences may be the hardest thing to accomplish. “Boys in the Boat” is a great tale of that precise accomplishment. It’s also a fascinating glimpse at life during the depression and the story of how a ragtag group of oarsmen from a lesser known university won the 1936 olympic gold medal.
In and Of Itself
This one’s not a book. It’s the film adaptation of Derek Delgaudio’s one-man Broadway act and it is astounding. Besides being a first-rate illusionist and card trick genius, Delgaudio weaves a phenomenal story about life and relationships. “In and Of Itself” is currently playing on Hulu. Find it and watch it!