A Season To Be Mired in Quicksand

To everything there is a season, we are told:

A time for effective and meaningful engagement in  a full life; and a time to be mired up to your acetabulum in an unending, onerous, complex, emotionally draining and impossible slog through quicksand.

There is a time for effortless, natural progression from passion to passion; and a time for soul-sucking, bizarre and out of control obligation to duty.

I, as you might have guessed, I find myself in the second of these seasonal possibilities.

Way busy; stressed; uncertain; sad; exhausted; and not all that agreeable to be around.

So when the going gets tough, the tough (or even wimps like me) get doodling.

Yep, I have recently spent a bit of our children’s inheritance and purchased an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. And when I should be creating agendas, sending out Doodle polls, writing complex position statements toward conflict resolution or otherwise moving forward toward one mission statement or another, I pull out the pad and pen and do the visual version of nothing at all.

A better person would feel regret and shame at such a retreat from responsibility. Me, I lean into purposelessness–with some flare and success, I add in all modesty.

So fire me.


About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.


  1. Fred, your reaction to life’s trials isn’t that strange.

    Lately I find myself in a three generations D&D game with my daughter, my grandson, and some of my daughter’s friends. Back in the day, I was intrigued by the game but never played. Now I find myself enjoying the hours long sessions. A game with a eight year old, a twenty something, three thirty somethings, and one sixty plus year old newbie…

    It’s my form of doodling. Enjoy it while you can, the rest will still be there when the doodles are finished.

  2. That doodling looks fun! A great way to take a break rather then read a novel or watch TV. You will recharge your batteries eventually.

  3. New stuff in tech constantly pulls us into learning experiences like this. Good for the brain, probably! I’m currently trying to install and learn about Pinterest, and am similarly tortured! It’s only one of the several new tech challenges I’m dealing with—I can’t help myself. I’m doomed!

  4. Doomed indeed. Such things are the adult toys of our age, for folks of our age, who are already bent in a certain direction. Color me happily BENT.

  5. Fred

    from your friend, Mark, in Greensboro NC

    Hang in there

    I still enjoy your website, posts, etc…even though I seldom contact you, I am still here… so, carry on….

    I am slow at all this new age stuff….I still have a flip phone, I do not face book, and am slow at responding to e-mails and websites, but trust me, I still do connect with your website …. would never dream of “firing you”

    Carry on Fred……………..


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