I was messaging with a friend of mine after my last post went up (5 Responsibilities of a Certified Diver). He told me he was going to recommend my blog to his new Open Water class tonight. So we started talking about how cool it was to be an instructor and watch students take their first breath…to see the light come on in their eyes as they just realized the possibilities of ocean exploration now in front of them.
So it got me thinking of my own experience deciding to get certified and my first night in the pool of my own Open Water class back in 1986. It wasn’t quite the same….at the beginning.
A Near Death Experience?
You see, when I first decided I wanted to learn to scuba dive I was living in South Florida and many of my friends were divers. So when I announced I was going to learn, I got the barrage of stories of near death experiences, slim escapes from toothy predators and escapades of bravery in the face harrowing odds under the sea. My friends wanted to WOW me with their stories but what they did was scare the Hell out of me! From that first declaration of my intent, it took a full year before I then had the nerve to put my name to paper and sign up for a dive class. I wish I had that year back.
I bought the book and started reading (nothing was online at that time). I saw the drawings of exploding balloons depicting the volume/pressure relationship and read about how my lungs could “over-expand”, a nice way, I thought, to explain the inevitable detonation of my pulmonary system. After all the horror stories from my friends, I was now convinced I had only moments to live once I got into the pool. But my fond memories of snorkeling in the Caribbean and remembered exploits of Jacques Cousteau’s Saturday morning TV shows, kept me moving forward towards an uncertain future.
My First Time…
So when I put the regulator in my mouth for the first time and sank to the bottom of the pool that night, of course I panicked and bolted to the surface (only about 2 feet). Afterall, humans have millions of years of evolution that says we shouldn’t be able to do this anymore! Then my instructor, Richard (for some reason I still remember his name) calmed me down and I went back for more. As I sat there and thought about it, I became mesmerized by thoughts of what I could actually do with this new skill. I soon became not only “un-scared” but enthusiastic about my new found hobby. The class lasted a month which gave me time to assimilate my skills and begin to relax and come to love scuba diving.
The Passion of Scuba Diving
In fact, I didn’t just come to love scuba diving, I came to see that the most dangerous thing about diving is the addiction (of course you have to follow all the rules!). It became my true passion and has led me down the most wondrous, joyful path I could ever have imagined. I turned the ocean world into my world and my passion into my vocation.
If you are just beginning the journey, don’t listen to the stories your friends tell you unless they are stories of the amazement of the underwater world. If you are a certified diver, be kind to your friends who are just starting. It is a breathtaking world down there that few people are able to truly appreciate through the innovation of SCUBA. By becoming a certified diver you have the ability to now explore 72% of the planet that most people don’t see. What a privilege, what an opportunity.
To Your Adventures,