Friday, December 4, 2009

Why Diving?

Dive 7 - Oil Slick Leap
Originally uploaded by reallyct
Towards the end of this vacation I had a somewhat revelatory moment: my desires and interests bare nearly no resemblance to my 18-year old self's desires and interests. I know this is big news. I mean the chances that an 18-year old might not have accurately mapped out the trajectory of a life...

But I felt very self-actualized at 18 - even in hindsight. Yeah, I was batshit crazy as all getout, but still. And yet these unnumbered years later I find myself on some rocky little outcrop of an island with 50 pounds of gear on my back, dressed in neoprene, about to go drown myself. As the kids would rightly say: WTF?!?

So, I'm not what you'd call sportive. I was definitely a picked-last-for-kickball kinda girl (though I still maintain I was a somewhat decent volleyball player). And while scuba diving seems to embrace the rest of the picked-last kids (think underwater Harley bikers), it is, in the end, an adventure sport. And one that I've become completely round the bend over.

Maybe it's an adrenaline thing. After all, while not dangerous like free climbing, it's not safe like yoga, and there's still an aspect that scares the shit out of me. In a good way. You see, the more I do it, the more comfortable I become with it, and the more I like my chances of maintaining my cool in a crisis. When learning to dive you had to do a lot of drills, the worst of which was taking your mask on and off underwater. I hate getting water up my nose and I couldn't seem to let the tiny air bubbles out of my mouth while my mask was off that would enable me not to suck down a pint of water through my nostrils. It was very very very uncomfortable. I finally got it to a point where, if I angled my skull just right, I could do it - but only in a perfect situation i.e. the test situation where everything is controlled, and you're, you know, holding onto the mask the entire time it's not on you as opposed to hunting the deep for the damn thing. During one of the dives on this trip, I had a realization: if my mask came off (I think this was possibly after someone, not devoted partner, kicked me in the head), I'd be cool. The best case scenario is that I'd hold my nose if I was worried about water getting up it, and swim until I found my mask; the worst case scenario was that I would hold my nose and swim until I found devoted partner and ask him to find my mask. The end result would be the same: I would NOT freak out and drown.

That knowledge felt pretty awesome.

Dive 7 - Oil Slick Leap
Originally uploaded by reallyct
I didn't think I'd be any good at diving. I thought my fear would outweigh any coolness factor. But as the learning curve progressed I decided I hated the part of me that was afraid. I know how to swim. I'm a good swimmer. All this sport asked of me was to swim underwater. And breathe. Which I also knew how to do. The fear I had was not based on any rationale understanding of my shortcomings with regard to the sport's prerequisites. It was just about fear. And I didn't want to be a person who feared fear itself.

Now? I plucking love it. We threw ourselves off random piles of rock into the ocean by ourselves three and four times a day. And safely I might add. There were dives I wanted to do and didn't because the book said they were for advanced divers and I didn't think we were there yet. We never exceeded our depth or time limits. And we still had adrenaline-packed fun. Despite my fear of shattering my bones on rocky shores, the dive pictured here was begun by our jumping from a cliff into the water. That was a first for me. I'd do it again.

Possibly from a higher cliff.

No comments:

Post a Comment