WRITER, ARTIST, Wildlife rehabilitator


How to escape mental quicksand: i.e. finding inspiration in words and other places

Quicksand warning sign in Denmark. Credit: Matthew Bargo

Quicksand warning sign in Denmark. Credit: Matthew Bargo

When you’re feeling vulnerable, rundown, anxious or uncreative, it’s all too easy to fall into what I call “mental quicksand.” Just like its real counterpart, mental quicksand tends to swallow you up when you least expect it.

And the more you struggle to escape it, the deeper it swallows you up.

Once you get stuck in mental quicksand, it can seem impossible to escape. But believe me, it’s possible. All you need to do is look for a little inspiration in the right places to help put you in a better state of mind.

As a writer-artist-runner, naturally I try to write, make art or run (or some combination of all three) when stuck in mental quicksand to help change my mindset. Getting out in nature also always seems to help me escape.

And then there’s looking at others’ words.

No matter what kind of quicksand pit you fall in (the lacking-confidence type, the lacking-energy type, the lacking-optimism type, etc.) you can be assured many others have also fallen into that same one. Reading about what others have learned through their quicksand escapes can help you get out, too.

All my life I’ve been a collector of good quotes, song lyrics and poems. I’ve been writing them down on scraps of paper and backs of notebooks. Finally, yesterday, I decided to give my collection some justice and put it in a nice little bound book: a handy “How to Escape Mental Quicksand” handbook.


Right now it looks pretty plain—you can be sure I will be adding some pizazz with collage to the cover—but inside live some very powerful words. 

Here are three favorites I’ve added thus far:

1.     Hope is not about receiving, about being the beneficiary of some nebulous good fortune, it’s about putting desire into action. Hope is an idea with an engine. —   Tracy K. Smith

2.     Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. —   Benjamin Franklin

3.     Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. —   Rumi

I’m hoping to create an online version of my handbook so you can use it when you need it. If you have any good “quicksand” quotes to share, please comment, email or tweet them to me!