A powerful little story

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Nomad, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    The Swamp and The Tractor

    In a dense forest lived a swamp that was always depressed, gloomy and unhappy with his lot in life.

    One day, a happy tractor came to the forest and saw the sad swamp. They spoke and the swamp said he was miserable and asked for help. "I'm tired of being an old gloopey swamp," he said, among other complaints.

    "Is there anything I could do?" asked the happy tractor, who was now worried for his new friend. "Well, if you really want to help, you could shovel some dirt into me and then I would dry up and stop being a swamp." "What a good idea, said the tractor."

    So, for the next several hours and in fact, the entire day, the tractor worked very hard digging dirt and putting in into the swamp. The swamp said it wasn't working, "I don't think you are shoveling fast enough, 'cause there is no difference," he said.

    Several days went by and the tractor worked harder and harder, while the swamp slept. Still, the status of the swamp remained the same. In fact, many times the swamp complained and grumbled about the tractor's poor effort and lack of real caring. The tractor got weaker and weaker.

    In time, the tractor literally worked himself to death and slowly sank into the wet, muddy swamp. Today, there is no evidence that the tractor had ever been there at all. The swamp remains a swamp and waits for the next tractor to come along and save him from himself.

    What choices did the tractor have?
    Might he have helped the swamp a little and then chose to leave?
    Could the swamp had tried to help himself?

    Sad story huh? It really makes me think.

    Lasted edited by : Nov 20, 2009
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    It sounds like a lesson in the importance of detachment and the necessity of helping oneself (swamp).

    Where is it from?

  3. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    The story is paraphrased from literature written by psychologist Susanna McMahon. She was writing mostly about self esteem and yes also about detachment. She talks about how we might want to help others in need for social reasons, but that it is important to keep in mind that others need to be willing to help themselves. Also, that we have choices in these matters and that if we make the choice to help we should feel good that we have done our part to help, but have healthy enough self esteem to then walk away from a situation that is detrimental to us.
  4. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Interesting metaphor. I am stuck on the "swamp" though because I don't know how it stops becoming a swamp :p (literally, that is). I suppose it has to learn to live with itself, and make its own accommodations?

    But, I totally get this. We help and help at our own expense, neglecting our own needs, and we die. Metaphorically speaking.
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    She makes an exception when working with children and caretakers for those seriously disabled. Even those who are disabled, for the most part, need to practice self care and be responsible. Another thought is that we can help lead them to outside services. It all become a little trickier working with those who are disabled.
    By and large, the tractor is a "Giver" and the swamp is a "taker," and each one of us in life has to learn how to manage our own care.
    Yes, the swamp has to learn how to make its own accomodations.
    And it is not healthy to keep on giving to the extent that it hurts us. In the end, for the most part, it doesn't even help the other guy (Mr. Swamp).
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LOL....ok...how odd. I got a completely different meaning but maybe because I live on a swamp. I took it to mean that the swamp should have taken the first load of dirt then asked the nice mr tractor to cut away some trees to let the sun shine in so they could bask in the warmth and be friends...lol.

  7. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    I think the swamp needs to just accept it is a swamp and see the beauty in itself. The swamp wants to be what it will never be and as long as it wants to be something else, it will never be happy with being a beautiful, cypress filled swamp.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    EW, that is really something to think about!!!
    Either accept it or do something about it.
    Both would require "cognitive restructuring," and accountability.
    A third option, but one that should only be done if absolutely necessary is to ask for help, but then use that help to move forward. If the Swamp asked for help one time and it didn't work, then the Tractor would have felt good having tried and the Swamp would have felt good that efforts were made on his behalf. And he might have seen that it was something that could not have been done. Perhaps he could have thought of a different solution. If the tractor stopped helping, perhaps the swamp would have decided to accept his situation and the tractor could have lived.

    If the Swamp asked for help, but had an attitude of "I'll take it from here" combined with a grateful spirit this would be a different story. This would help a person get "unstuck"...but they would still have to decide whether or not to do something about their situation.

    If it didn't work, well, maybe it would be time to accept it (like I said above). Or maybe the Swamp has to look for another solution, one in which people and machinery doesn't get hurt. (LOL!) If the situation is dire, perhaps the Swamp can be referred to another source (one that is safe) for help.

    If we keep on helping the person (the Tractor repeatedly helping the Swamp) and they don't help themselves, the same things repeat themselves and we exhaust ourselves, then no progress is made and we run the risk of hurting ourselves in an extreme manner.
    Lasted edited by : Nov 21, 2009
  9. ML

    ML Guest

    This came at a perfect time. husband and I were talking about enabling and I read this to him. Thank you.