Diving is one of those things I've always wanted to do...and I'm learning that a lot of those things I've always wanted to do actually terrify me on some level. I actually didn't think I would be that terrified until I started the class. Reading about all the horrible things that can happen, the scary things, while under water trusting your lungs to a fake tank of compressed air strapped onto your back, well, freaked me out.
But, as someone wise told me this week, just because you're afraid of something doesn't mean you can't do it. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't do it because of my fear--I guess that means I do have a small kernel of bravery wrapped up in my worry.
Anyway, the first class was, well, to be redundant, quite scary. I didn't expect to be so afraid and uncomfortable and panicky under that water! As a competitive swimmer for a big chunk of my life, as well as a certified lifeguard, so I'm confident in most water situations, and the fact that I wasn't expecting to be scared made it even worse.
The first day also included a lot of information, and a lot of tests. Tests on paper and underwater. My least favorite was when the instructor came by, as we were all seated underwater watching him, and took our regulator (that contraption you stick in your mouth to enable you to get air) out of our mouths and threw it behind us. Of course, it's attached to the air tank, so it's not that hard to retrieve, but I kept freaking out and inhaling water. I finally got all of the skills, including the one where our masks were ripped off (have to thank my
horrible genetic eyesight for forcing me to keep my eyes squeezed closed as I groped around for the allotted minute, to keep my contacts intact) and where we had to use our buddy's regulators.
I was fairly exhausted and scared and not sure that this was the sport for me, until the next day! It was a million times more comfortable. I was, again, surprised at how much more fun it was! The equipment wasn't as terrifying, or as awkward, and I passed all of the tests without panicking once, and I was giddy the entire time, and wished our next class wasn't a week away.
So, the moral of this story is, fear can be a guidepost. It's one of those tricky things we need to master during life: either to follow your fearful instincts or to defy them. Sometimes fear is the best warning system, sometimes it holds us back. Just another part that works so much better if it's balanced.
This small little lesson about fear has oddly helped prepare me for me trip, too. For someone who loves to travel and who is a fairly experienced traveller, I am usually quite apprehensive and anxious and well, terrified before anything trip like this. I guess it's the fear of the unknown--and for me, the lovely little hypochondriac tendencies my psyche leans toward.
I'm afraid of leaving my boyfriend, my dogs, my family, my friends, my doctors, my therapists, my JOBS, the pretty great rhythm I have here. I'm afraid of coming back and having everything be heartbreakingly different. I'm afraid of not coming back. I'm afraid of my plane pulling a 'Lost' in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and getting stuck on an island with polar bears and smoke monsters and people-snatchers (although I wouldn't be too upset if I ended up with a handsome doctor and a hot con-man fighting over me). You probably get it--I'm afraid.
But hey, it's just like strapping on a tank and submerging in the ocean--doesn't mean I won't do it. And you know what? There's a 99% chance it will be completely, totally worth it (and that 1% chance probably holds a lesson I really need to learn, even if it plain sucks).
We never know what's next, we never know when our hourglass will empty, but it truly is beautiful on
the other side
of the unknown (even at the bottom of an old pool likely filled with the pee of kids and the sweat of old men).