I probably shouldn’t share this but Adam had a lot of anxiety about scuba. I didn’t really think much about it before we left for our trip – I spent the three weeks beforehand wrapping up things at my lovely job so that I could start a new job when we got back – and coupled with doing online scuba courses at night I didn’t have time to become concerned. Plus we’d done it before and it was a ton of fun and I honestly I don’t remember much of it. There were fish! And water and stuff. I could breathe underwater. Technical looking doodad stuff. That was scuba.
It wasn’t until I woke up gasping at 1am the morning we were to go out for our first oceans dives that I became really honest with myself about how terrified I was. Down below sixty feet of water with a tank of air strapped to my back? Was I insane? What did I get us into? So since this whole ordeal was pretty much my fault, I spent that morning quietly stoic while Adam repeatedly expressed concerns about this new hobby’s effect on our life span.
As a gut reaction, I can’t recommend scuba to anyone. It takes a certain kind of insanity to think there’s something fun about going down 100ft of open water. If you think taking off your mask at the bottom of the ocean while breathing air that never ever feels like you’re getting a full breath and sharks are swimming circles around you and your instructor sounds a little stressful (and, oh, by-the-by, if you do freak out you can’t just shoot up to the surface thanks to the effects of breathing compressed air can have on your body), then scuba is not for you.
Some tasks require you to take your breathing regulator out of your mouth and when you do there’s always the big deep breath you take beforehand, followed by the slow release of air to prevent lung over-expansion. This slow deliberate exhaling reminds me of yoga’s discipline of the mind and body. That is what scuba taught me: panic control. Learning to ignore that little voice in my head that is telling you to freak out. Stop, breathe, think about the steps you need to take to get through this tiny little ordeal, and then do them very thoughtfully and deliberately.
So yeah now I know how to set up scuba gear and prepare my body for the pressure of 60ft of water and even some science-y ocean-related stuff. But learning to control knee-jerk hysteria is a technique I will use forever; it certainly came in handy a couple times the first few days at my new job this week.
It can be easy to assume that a person can be more obsessed with the check mark on their life list than the experience of getting it accomplished. And while scuba is really – truly, I’m not playing – a lot of fun, I got so much more out of it than just being able to say I swam with sharks (MOTHER EFFIN SHARKS DUDE!). The life list is about life lessons! Learning, doing new things, expanding the mind, Oprah stuff, etc.
Anyway I got an awesome beach vacation out of it. And this cool (“cool”) card.
Also MOTHER EFFIN SHARKS DUDE!
(Oh, Adam is fine and totally on board now too. Wreck diving here we come!)