My time here has been some of the best, but some of the hardest.
I never really knew what went into scuba diving—I just showed up, with the intention of learning. I came from Minnesota. I came with a blank slate.
I knew nothing.
Now, I somewhat know things.
Now, I can roll backwards into the water, gear intact, with hardly a second thought.
Now, I can rely on myself underwater and look after others as well.
But that didn’t just happen.
Work went into that.
Blood, sweat, and tears.
I’m staring at two inflamed, slightly infected, gashes on my middle finger. They’re yellow on the inside, and shiny red and swollen on the outside. I have weird cracks in my fingertips—on my pointer and thumb, like 7 paper cuts each, slashes, sliced. Swells of purple and brown spot my shins.
The equipment isn’t very nice—it’s heavy, it’s awkward.
It wears and tears and weighs.. weighs.. weighs…
My arms out of my sockets. My biceps squeezed dry.
Until I’m carrying equipment from the pool, down the concrete steps, past the rocky driveway, and to the shop. The plastic, weight-pocket buckle slides and slips between my weary fingers. I’m holding the clips like the edge of a cliff—energy draining, mind waning. My drive says grip harder, they’re falling, catch them, try harder.. but, with relief, my body doesn’t respond. With relief, the pockets thud against the concrete. My arms gave up.
They just gave up.
I let go.
..well, that’s one type of relief. To say I gave up, I tried. To look forward and never look back. Only because if you looked back, you know you’d regret it. You know you could’ve held on just five seconds longer.. you could’ve made it.
But you didn’t.
And then there’s another kind of relief—a relief that comes after a long day. A long day of work. In which you’re challenged again, and again, and again. And you go home—exhausted outside your bones, lost beneath a cloud of sleep. But you know that you did something—you know that you grew, and excelled, and made something. Or something out of yourself.
You fell off that ledge, but you caught the next one, and started climbing.
Because once those weight pockets drop, and you think you’re taking that last sigh—life keeps going. It keeps running.
And despite the pain, and exhaustion, and discomfort you feel in that moment—to come out on the otherside, that.. that is earned success. That is a feeling that says I’m so extremely happy, and proud, and worthy, and I did that. I made myself feel that way. I gave myself that high, and I don’t need something or someone else to do it for me.
And in the end, at the very, very least, you have the ecstasy of diving—
You have the neon, tribal marked parrot fish. And the rolling tentacles of an octopus, swirling sand.
..and you have deep.
There’s an ecstasy about going deep—it’s called being ‘narked’. When there’s enough nitrogen in your blood, you may begin to feel drunk, or euphoric.
We descended together, prepared for the deep.
We were going deep.
About 40 meters.
On the way down, colors dulled, temp decreased, and the pressure deepened. The surge stretched to the bottom, manifesting a blurried, cold, darkness. A chilly nothingness. I could faintly track the fins in front of me..
But then, my mind stuck on them—they flapped like angel wings, I thought. Slow, and steady, and graceful, and kind of beautiful. They twisted a bit, and turned– swirled in a rolling direction. Cyclical. They painted a beautiful picture and I was entranced.
And oh, so happy.
I felt like I should’ve been scared– I should’ve been anxious, being so far down, in the depths of the ocean.. if I were to get lost, who could find me? Who would find me?
Probably no one, considering I couldn’t track the live people swimming 5 feet away. But these thoughts just came, and passed, and I found it quite funny. I found these fears insignificant in comparison to the fact that I was so deep. Inside the earth.
And upon popping out of the depths, I smiled to myself.
We went deep.