Scuba Lessons

Years ago I certified as a scuba diver.  I don’t dive as often as I wish. There aren’t a lot of oceans where I live (in South Dakota) and it costs money to get to places where there are oceans.

The final stage of becoming a certified diver is an open water dive, which I did in a lake in northwest Iowa. The water temperature was 53 degrees and we completed five or six dives each day.  What I realized after shaking almost uncontrollably that night, is that I had hypothermia. A wet suit protects your body heat a bit, but they aren’t designed for cold water.

What I love about scuba diving is that what is under the water is a completely different world. It’s almost like being on a different planet. The landscape and creatures and environment is so foreign to our every day lives.

The coral in the Caribbean is very different from the coral in places like Hawaii. Brain coral, fan coral, staghorn coral, and too many others to name. I’ve seen ship wrecks and other structures that I’m sure had stories attached. There are tiny fish and not so tiny fish, but amazing and vibrant colors and shapes. I’ve seen a turtle that seemed the size of a Volkswagon, a barracuda that wasn’t smiling, various kinds of lobsters and rays, dolphins and porpoises, eels and pufferfish, on and on.

I’ve had a couple interesting experiences that are too long to describe here. The “Cliffnotes” edition is I was told to hold on to the anchor rope and the waves pulled me completely out of the water. Was also on a small dive boat that almost went under a large wave, before we bailed off.  Ask me sometime and I’ll fill in some details.

But this is what I’ve learned while scuba diving. First, hang with your dive master. They see things you can’t see, know things you don’t know.

Second, everything you have to live is with you. If you panic, you could die. I’ve looked to a surface very far away and seen an incredible body of water between where you are and where your brain says you need to be. And then you tell yourself – everything I have to live and to be safe is right here.

Hang with the master, everything you need is right here, it’s an incredible world. Not bad lessons.

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