The school year’s end tends to be accompanied with deadline crunches and stress. So as with the closing of last semester, I would like to end on a reflective note. The concept of quicksand was brought up in casual conversation and I got to thinking about how my mental schematic was entirely informed by action films of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s (and today!). This couldn’t be rooted in science, it’s too cinematic. So of course I Googled if quicksand is real, don’t judge me, and the kind I was imagining—that kind does not exist. Remember that scene in the Princess Bride? A total lie.
Then I began thinking about the metaphoric possibility that is quicksand. This passage is pulled from the BBC article “Can quicksand really sink you to your death?” and not only is it educational, it’s actually really beautiful and strangely reassuring:
Quicksand usually consists of sand or clay and salt that’s become waterlogged, often in river deltas. The ground looks solid, but when you step on it the sand begins to liquefy. But then the water and sand separate, leaving a layer of densely packed wet sand which can trap it. The friction between the sand particles is much-reduced, meaning it can’t support your weight anymore and at first you do sink. It is true that struggling can make you sink in further, but would you actually sink far enough to drown?
Beautiful and reassuring—because the answer is no. The quicksand itself won’t fully cover you because you’re buoyant. What can kill you is staying in their too long (tides, the elements, pressure making it difficult to breathe). With dry quicksand, you’ll need help from someone on solid ground. In the sludge that is wet quicksand, stay calm and allow your buoyant self to float back up to the surface.
Have a wonderful summer.