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Ryan Aldridge | What Shark-Infested Waters Taught Me About Life
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Ryan Aldridge | What Shark-Infested Waters Taught Me About Life

Ryan Aldridge - Create Your Path

Ryan Aldridge recounts how a sunny fishing trip with his dad quickly turned into a near-death experience that taught him an unforgettable lesson.


45 minutes is exactly how long it took to transform my life.

My father and I were involved in a terrible boating accident three miles beyond the Golden Gate Bridge in open ocean. Our boat of 20 years capsized and sank dumping the two of us in the shark infested 55 degree cold waters of the Pacific. Our boat was sinking fast but he was able to make a single 911 phone call that reached the operator who said they would contact help.

We never knew if help was coming as our phones died as soon as we hit the salt water. We spent 45 minutes together in the ocean desperately swimming for the land on the horizon racing against the affects of hyperthermia. Our only hope was to reach land before we went unconscious from the cold and perished in the waves.

The human fight or flight response is a powerful force and does interesting things to your mind. To sustain my motivation I focused my mind on a singular thought that drove me, the feeling of joy a person experiences from new love is unparalleled in strength and is the pinnacle of human emotion.

Luckily for me, Kelly my girlfriend of six months lived in Scottsdale. I focused 100% of my mind on the joy I would feel from seeing her again after I reached land. The 911 operator got through to the Coast Guard who sent a rescue helicopter, which miraculously plucked us from the sea. We were treated for hyperthermia and sent home that night.

Still lacking composure, I called Kelly and told her what had happened and that she was the joy in my life that fueled my swim.

I felt something unexpected when my boat went down. I'll never forget how serine and calm being in the ocean was and the feeling of euphoria I felt during my swim when I faced my own potential death. Fear did not exist in that moment.

As so many young people do, I was struggling to find purpose in my life and create passion for something I believed in. I found purpose that day. I often felt like I had a surplus of time until I was faced with losing all that at once and realize that it is the scarcest resource in the world.

All fear of change, lost relationships, personal failure and self doubt became irrelevant when facing death. Like the waves of the ocean I faced we will all likely face waves of adversity throughout the rest of both our personal and professional lives.

If you have a passion, act on it today. There is no time to waste.

If you are ever caught on a sinking ship or just get a sinking feeling in life always remember that with a little luck and through absolute resolve and massive action you alone have the power to create your own path.

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