How I found my Why on the River Wye
Several days ago I was both excited and scared for my new venture into the world of freelance marketing. Now I’m just excited.
There is nothing like a little brush with your own mortality to put things in perspective.
Last week I was on a much needed holiday at the end of a jam-packed two years working as an employee in a small company. It wasn’t the rest and relaxation kind of holiday though; my partner and I are the weekend-warrior adventure type. So we had four days of canoeing and camping along a stretch of the River Wye, bordering Wales and England.
I love being immersed in nature, waking up to the sound of birds singing and the taste of camp stove coffee. However, I hadn’t planned on the type of immersion I got on this trip.
I spent the first day and a half of paddling the river thinking about all the different concerns I had about my upcoming freelance venture; all the ways I could lose money, and the many ways a freelance job could go wrong. Being self-employed comes with a lot of financial uncertainty. And if there is one thing us humans struggle to make peace with, it’s uncertainty.
But we have all heard the expression that the only certainty in life is death. We know it’s true, although we prefer to suppress that though and pacify ourselves with the illusion of certainty. This is why we cling to employment, relationships that perhaps have run their course, and other things of a similar nature.
Halfway through the second day of paddling our canoe, we misjudged a patch of current. It pulled us into deep water under some low hanging branches, and flipped our boat right over.
I always thought I could swim, but it turns out that a strong current and the physiological effects of cold water shock are more powerful than me. I can only imagine that I tried to scream, but for whatever reason, I didn’t hold my breath quickly enough. Cold water hit the back of my throat and I went into laryngospasm.
When my lifejacket resurfaced me a little down the river, I expected to be able to take a deep breath and recover myself. But I couldn’t get any movement in my lungs at all. My airway had sealed shut and I began to panic. The whistle around my neck was useless to me as I had no breath, so I just flapped my arms until my partner managed to grab onto me.
Once I was able to stand up straight my airway relaxed and I started to breathe and cough. The whole ordeal was probably less than two minutes as I remained conscious despite the lack of oxygen.
A few minutes after the capsize I was talking, laughing, and filming the boat for Instagram. You can see in this clip here, I am very amused in this moment.
p.s. Andy is my hero! If he hadn’t pulled me up straight I might not have cleared my throat in time.
It wasn’t until that evening, drying out around the campfire, that reality started to dawn on me. I was reading Hack the Entrepreneur (my Kindle had been saved by my drybag) and thinking about the future.
Yes, freelancing is scary. But so is the fact that life can be taken away in a fleeting moment. So I’m going to make the most of my second chance and do the work that makes me happy.
Whether I stay afloat or not, ultimately I can only do my best to work with the current, not against it, and enjoy the ride for as long as I can.