Sunday, July 12, 2015

Being Scared

Do one thing every day that scares you.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I think doing something that would actually scare me every single day would lead to an early death. But it is good to be outside your comfort zone every now and then. These last two weekends, I went totally outside my comfort zone, and was at times scared: I learned to scuba dive.

And the short journey was quite terrifying, and without a doubt one of the most, if not the most, challenging things I've ever done. I've always talked about doing it (big talk is so easy), and now that we're travelling for the next year, it seemed like it might be now or never.

Last weekend I got through the pool requirements and the exam. I was nervous, but I knew I could do that. Years of swimming lessons, and lots of pool swimming since, has given me lots of confidence in the pool, and I'm pretty certain that I won't drown.

I only have a pool photo.
We didn't have anyone in our group confident
enough into take the camera to the lake.

This past weekend was a different story when we moved to a lake, that obviously lacked pool edges, and included colder and deeper water. For the first time in a long time I was nervous - so much so I could barely sleep Friday night.

I survived Saturday's two dives, but barely. 

I squeezed into the wet suit, added 30-odd pounds of weight to stop me from floating, and then tried to put my flippers on while in the water. Mistake. I wasn't quite use to the weight and how cumbersome everything was and I toppled over and under the water. My life didn't flash before my eyes, but the thought of humiliating myself by drowning in the shallow end before the day even started gave me enough of a boost to get above the water line.

I got through the first dive, and only needed to repeat one of the skills. Apparently my time-efficient ascent was a little too time-efficient.

Our group's little swim under water back to shore resembled a bad Monty Python skit. Instead of a half dozen divers moving along in an orderly fashion, we were a motley crew of flailing arms and legs, moving in slightly different directions - though the general flow was forward - with one person that seemed to jettison from the bottom of the lake to the surface and back again within moments. 

After a short break we headed back out for dive #2. I thought my breathing was quite shallow, and I tried to take deeper breaths, but I struggled with it. The instructor unzipped my wetsuit. That helped, well at least it did until I took my buddy's air and we tried to get to the surface. We flailed around, I got a mouth full of water, which I couldn't quite get out -- I wouldn't call what I looked like as panicked, but I was keen to get to surface before drowning. This ascent was ok, according to the instructor, but then I couldn't breathe deep enough to calm myself down and do some self-talk. So floating like an upturned turtle I needed to be towed back to shore. I was so happy to be helped and certain that I wasn't going to drown, I didn't even care I was essentially rescued from the second dive.

It took me basically the rest of the day to recover and get some confidence back.

I exchanged my suit for Sunday's dives. What a difference it makes being able to breathe properly! And I could move so much better. Best decision of the weekend. 

Sunday's dives went just fine - even with almost no visibility. My buddy and I lost each other if we weren't touching. We ended with a little group of 4 and an instructor on a bit of an outing without needing to practice any skills. We could only do it though by going in a row of 5 and hanging onto something attached to the person next to us -- like my hands didn't have enough to do without staying attached to my group. But we almost made it to shore. When visibility reached virtually zero, I lost touch with the group and we had to surface. But we did it, feeling confident with our skills because next time we head out we'll definitely have better visibility and will be able to see more than stirred up mud and algae.

I'm now a PADI certified scuba diver. My first dive may just be in Argentina to swim with the sea lions. And, I'll still be scared, but will at least have the confidence to know I'll be ok.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! That's something I would not have the nerve to try.