No matter how well prepared you may be, minor panic will set in when you’re blinded 60 feet under the ocean.
My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Belize when I completed the final evolution of my basic underwater SCUBA certification. Until that point, we’d done all our previous training in a private school pool in Washington, DC. This was open water, where anything can happen.
The final test?
Kneel on the ocean floor at a depth of 60+ feet, remove your mask, wait until your instructor taps you on the shoulder, replace your mask, clear the water from the mask so you can see again and exult in victory!
Being my first open water dive, I was nervous as hell and taking huge, almost-gasping breaths on the descent to the sea floor. Once we got down there, a sensation of peace and vitality flooded my senses. My breathing calmed down and I performed the final task with renewed confidence, passing the final check on (thankfully) the first attempt.
It was that moment that I fell in love with it.
Diving is peaceful and meditative and dangerous enough to get your full attention, which only adds to the experience. There’s an intense feeling of presence while also an odd sort of detachment from the problems and troubles of the day. I suppose there’s an interesting intersection where a sense of awe meets potential doom.
Over the new week or so, I’ll be writing about diving stories. Some will be funny. Some will be philosophical. Some will be downright dangerous.
But oh well. After all, dead men tell no tales.