I nearly drowned as a child. There is a rather long story as to how I ended up in the pool. It was innovative to say the least. It was autumn and I remember the cold water soaking into my clothing as I grappled for the side. Struggling with short arms and the wet, slippy stone ridge around the pool. I did not have the skills to paddle to the step or just float. Swallowing water as I gasped for breath became overbearing as panic set in. Luckily for me that day I had a saviour who heard the commotion and had the mind to investigate. Helpless I gave into exhaustion. Sinking face up, looking through the water as the blurred figure pulled me out onto the edge coughing and spluttering.
Metaphorically I’ve been drowning for years. Flailing around in the waters looking for someone to rescue me. Realising that the only one who can really help is me.
The rough choppy waves for now have subsided and more relaxed demeanour has taken over me. I have been granted the space to breathe and can comfortably bob on the surface of the water contemplating what comes next. Behind me is the land mass of my past and the security of what I have created around me. My pride exudes as I count my blessings of family willing me to take the plunge.
The monuments of my past smatter the coastline casting a shadowy hug around me gripping me firmly in the past. Before me is an island of hope and promise. This is the reason I got into the water in the first place. If I am right this could be a place of growth and free spirit.I have waded into the water many times before but have never gone this far. The first initial stroke towards the island has eluded me for years. From here on in the water is deep and full of horror.
My life changed in January of 2014. My Father died after a month of fighting very sudden diagnosis of a brain tumour. I have grown up with a very close relationship with death having seen many lives taken through brutal tragedy or plain suicidal despair. This was a very different experience. Dealing with death from inside my own immediate family circle I began to ponder the significant times. The final conversation I had with my Dad (June 2013) had surprising revelations. Considering what happened within the next six months I mulled over what those comments really meant. Like most parents my Dad really just wanted the best for me and my siblings. Giving advice he felt appropriate for us at the time.
That day we talked about the direction my life had taken and although I felt lucky and happy with everything I had. I explained how I wished I had followed some of my initial aspirations of writing, photography and art. We had had similar conversations before as work was a very big part of my Dad’s life which he loved to talk about. The reaction this time was a little different. I expected the usual pep talk about acceptance of my path and pressing forward.
I felt a little embarrassed as he apologised for being so hard on those ideas and dissing them as unreal aspirations better followed as a hobby. He felt he had pushed me towards choosing a “proper” job to make a living and provide for a family. I could have at any point decided not to take heed. But wanted people (in particular Mum and Dad) to be proud of me as a stand up citizen of the world. I have come to the conclusion that at certain poignant points in my life I made decisions to suit other people and blocked off the riskier road less trodden route. Which seems silly now as both paths are filled with equivalent uncertainty. It has taken a while for me to get to this point but feel it is time to start the swim. Opening myself up on a personal level is difficult. Especially with this modern age of cyber trolls where I expose myself to possible snap attacks from some bitter and twisted individuals releasing venomous sputum whilst hidden behind a protective screen.
However I now feel that vulnerability can manifest itself as a tool of strength and freedom and this is my destiny.
When I think about passion I very rarely gravitate towards things that surround my work life. As a chef the joy of cooking is great but deep down it’s not enough. I am more interested in talking about what I have read, art works I have seen or music I have listened to. I am increasingly envious of people who work within a field they really get a kick out of and fulfil a personal dream at the same time.
So here it is. I most definitely took that first stroke into the depths. In my mind I have reached the island and hope that means I am standing on the shore. I need to figure out bridging the gap between my future and past. I hope the land is hospitable and that the route out of the water is kind and not a treacherous climb up a rocky cliff with the danger of being bashed against the rocks.
Author: Gavin Elden
I am a Head Chef who has always had a burning desire to do a bit of writing. I have started many projects but never submitted anything. The plan is for this to change and I teeter on the precipice getting ready to drop in. I dearly hope that I could potentially carve out a late career within writing. I love good art, film, music,writing and food. The surf, skate and snowboarding culture is of particular interest to me. I also love the world of graphic novels and comics but would not really consider myself a geek.