There used to be a childhood fear among my set when I was growing up. The fear of quicksand. For some reason, many of the television shows, especially Westerns, during that period included at least one scene where a villain or a hero was up to his (always his) waist in quicksand and sinking fast. If the fast sinking character was lucky the star of the show (most of the time) would grab a thick tree limb, a rifle, or a rope and drag them out in time. If the scared person wasn’t lucky the quicksand would swallow them whole, but slowly so that the viewer would see the top of the head as the sand overtook them and they sank to the depths of god knows what.
If, we as neighbor kids that loved those old shows were lucky, right after one of those action packed, trigger happy episodes, it may have rained. We then looked for the deepest mud we could find and one of us would be the fortunate or unfortunate depending upon how you looked at it, one to leap into the ‘quicksand’ or mud. Of course one of the rest of us would be the hero of the day and lend a broomstick (always a broomstick, we couldn’t get our rifles dirty) and help the poor fella out of the situation. But it would take a while as we acted out all sorts of crazy drama before the heroic scene. Unless it was dinner time, then we’d hurry and get the crazy sucker out.
My husband and I watched a documentary last night on public television, “Rich Hill”. The doc was about three boys living in a small town and their day-to-day lives. Their living conditions were not good, their parents or guardians either brought down by hard times or health concerns, their isolation in their situations almost too much to witness. But at times during the film a glimpse could be gathered of a smile, a laugh, kind gestures, and even love.
It was a very sad yet poignant portrayal of a cataclysmic problem that doesn’t only exist in this small town. This scene is played out over and over again in small and large towns throughout the states and of course, the world. Caught up in a gathering multi layered thickness of quicksand children everywhere experience an endless cycle of poverty, loneliness, misunderstanding, and dismissal. The only way to pull them out is to lend something to hold on to. And not get stuck with them in the process. Is society up to the task? And if so, how long will it take? Can we get them out before they, and consequently, we are consumed by the sand?