Little did I know it when I jumped on a longboard for the first time in 2005 that my life was about to change quite dramatically. I was a shabby graphic designer with no ambition, no aspirations, no direction and no idea what was about to happen.
We all have a little pilot light burning inside us, waiting for ignition, all it takes is for someone or something to push the button. After that, the fire is ours, it’s up to us to keep it burning.
After my first adventures my flame flickered for a couple of years. It burned strongly when I wrote my first book, BoardFree, and then dimmed for a while before I decided to try and date 100 women in 100 days to try and find a girlfriend. And then the flickering commenced throughout 2008 as I tried to understand myself and where I was going. I needed another expedition to get me back on track, so I bought a narrowboat and lived on a canal in Wiltshire for the best part of a year, before walking and kayaking the length of Australia’s Murray River, an expedition which well and truly got me back on track.
Since then, I’ve felt pretty warm inside, I know who I am, I know where I’m going. I finally understand why a little voice used to tell me I had potential, back when I was a teenager no-hoper with love for very little other than a football!
I now make a meagre living without having a job. I have a long-term focus that glues together an existence based purely on belief and hard work. I’ve struggled for a few years, earning barely anything, building my wealth in experience, not money. Things started to gel only when I began to think beyond the simplicity of ‘what’ I was doing, it was when I considered ‘why’ that I started to understand.
I trusted how I felt, decided to combine my loves of sport and travel and the inner workings of the human mind and now, where once my friends and family would question my motives and my bank balance and my future, now they accept it, because suddenly I seem to be doing okay on all fronts and that makes it socially acceptable!
I think the world would be a better place if everyone was content with themselves. Happiness filters down, it’s delightfully infectious, and I’ve been privileged enough to spend the last three weeks touring around Australia with my friend Sebastian Terry discussing the nature of our life choices. We’ve presented to audiences in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, and although there is so much more to come it truly feels as though the hard work of the last six years has finally come to fruition.
I sit here in my hotel room, looking out over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In two days I fly back to the UK, and two weeks after that I head to Minneapolis in the United States, from where I will drive out to Lake Itasca, Minnesota, and begin a three-month journey along the Mississippi River by Stand Up Paddleboard. Had you asked me six years ago what I’d be doing in 2011 I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, but if you’d informed me that I’d be doing this, I can unequivocally say that I would have been very happy indeed.
Onwards, it’s time for a brand new chapter.