Today was a very busy day of diving. We started off with a Divemaster session in the pool with Dan, practicing "demonstration-quality skills". This requires going step-by-step, slowly and intentionally exaggerating each critical element in the skill, so that a new diver can easily see, understand, and emulate us. And that means repeating things that used to absolutely terrify me, like removing my mask at the bottom of a 10' pool and sitting there with my eyes shut to protect my contacts, waiting and trying very intentionally not to suck water in through my nose, before slowwwwly replacing and clearing the mask. It means a maskless (blind) swim, escorted by Dan around the pool, followed by my replacing and clearing the mask again. It means flinging my regulator out of my mouth and slowly going through the steps necessary to guarantee recovery, replacement, and clearing.
Though I still get a bit of butterflies every time it's my turn, and I have a crowd of fellow DM candidates and an instructor watching me, it is definitely getting easier and much less stressful. I am not having the same feeling of dread or even panic that I used to have. A year ago, in Playa, my teeth were gripping the reg all the time, and I'd never have willingly removed it. "I've just tossed my lifeline away!!!" screamed my internal voice. So I'm thrilled to say that all this time in the pool, and especially the support of a really incredible group of people, is working. And I couldn't be happier!
...Or at least,I thought I couldn't be happier. Mom surprised me by calling the shop while I was in class, and scheming with Wally to deliver a very generous gift certificate to me as I was wrapping up for the day. I think Wally was as excited to give it to me as I was to receive it. THANKS, MOM & HENRY!!!
And Dad sent me a very generous birthday/Christmas check this week, also with Scuba in mind. I've had my eye on some gear for a while (still need my own BCD and reg, and would love a camera housing and strobes someday—not to mention a DSLR class), so I'm over the moon. I think if I start selling plasma now and do it every day, I might be able to afford all the gear I "need" in about 15 years. LOL
But I'd have to say that the BEST part of the day was assisting three sessions of Discover Scuba for about two dozen Boy Scouts. It is SO rewarding to introduce people to a sport I've grown to love, and particularly when the people are kids as young as ten years old. My first Discover session with Matt K and his sons Thompson, Logan, and Broch; and Todd and Liz with Liz's sister Crystal—gave me the same feeling. It is cool to see people dive in fearlessly and love it. And even moreso to see people approach with fear or at least trepidation, to help them get comfortable, and then to see them exceed their own expectations.
Looking back it's hard for even myself to believe that I've only been a true adventurer for the last five years or so. Swimming and diving was no small feat. And it is a true joy to introduce kids to the sport that I wish had been possible for me when I was their age. Better late than never, and I'm thrilled and privileged to help others try it now, as I get more comfortable myself.
I have to thank Rich for introducing me to Ryan, who tipped me off to the Roatan trip. I have to thank Sam for assembling an amazing trip and an amazing group of people who are now my amazing friends. And I really have to thank Dan, Ellen, Jackie, Scott, Jeff, and all the instructors, as well as my fellow students, for helping me have more fun than I ever could have imagined.
If you are reading this, I hope you commit to doing ONE thing outside your comfort zone in 2014. Worst case, you hate it, and you curse my name. Best case: who knows? New hobby? New outlook on life? New calling? I'd say it's worth a shot. :)