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How To Survive Whirlpools

05 July

I had a fabulous birthday and 4th of July celebration, but now I am once again feeling stuck in that effort to get back to work. What I left unfinished on my desk when I began this break was no small task. I was caught in a design loop of trying to condense a 350 page book into two lines of text for a catchy subtitle, trying to capture the essence of the feeling in an exquisitely perfect book cover and trying to edit the introduction to fit all of the pieces together.  That’s a lot of trying!
And for some unknown reason, I decided to add more design confusion to my brain by painting the perfectly fine walls of my cozy home in bright colors.  As I was starting to drown in my own indecision, I remembered a river rafting trip that I took a few years ago on a visit to Oregon.
It was fairly early in the season and the rivers were running very full (and cold) in Oregon.  We were all given the choice of shooting the 20’ waterfall or watching from the bridge above as our mates risked their lives. I chose to watch while my daredevil son decided to take the adrenalin route.
There were plenty of instructions but the one I remember is what to do if you fall out: don’t try to swim out but instead float on your back until the current carries you away from the downward force of the waterfall. My son’s boat was first and everyone managed to stay in the boat.  The second boat was not so fortunate.
We could see from the bridge that the raft was coming into the falls slightly askew and when it went over the falls several of the “weebles” fell out.  Most managed to hang onto the raft and drift downstream to calmer water.  But one young man, whose girlfriend was on the bridge with me, got caught in the whirlpool of the falls. 
As we watched from above, he fought the power that was sucking him under by trying to swim.  Our guide threw him a rope, but the guy just kept swimming and swimming. And getting nowhere.  He was getting very tired and would go under repeatedly then fight his way to the surface again.  Everyone was trying to reach him, yelling at him to relax and float, but he was lost in his own nightmare. It was obvious that he couldn’t get a breath. I will never forget his panic.
Nor will I forget his face when he finally gave up. His girlfriend screamed; she saw it too.  He simply decided that he couldn’t fight it any longer.  And down he went.  He simply disappeared under the waterfall… for probably 30 seconds…and then he popped up, sputtering and coughing, about 25 feet downstream.  When he had finally relaxed, the current had carried him to safety.
I’m pretty sure that if I could just relax on this design loop that I have been stuck in that I too will pop up, further downstream, safe in the calmer waters of a design solution. Maybe sputtering and coughing, but at least onto the next phase my journey and out of this damn whirlpool. 


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