Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Beauty of the Dive

Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & ob...Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & obt'd Image:Plongeur bouteilles.jpg id'd there as (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks Natalie---this about sums it up!!!

Diving on a shipwreck, I look up while inside a cabin and see a pool of air from my exhaled bubbles. The pool shimmers, mirror-like, and for a moment I see my own image gazing back at me. I make a face at my reflection and breathe out. The exhaled air hits a different part of the ceiling. Large bubbles burst into a thousand tiny particles upon impact, and then slither like quicksilver up to the larger pool. Magic!

I am obsessed with scuba diving. How do I love diving? Let me count the ways:

1. I love the descent. The moment I deflate my buoyancy compensator and slip below the surface, the physics of my environment changes. I am in free fall. I am in control. I love to stretch my arms out and swoop down to the reef like a bird. When I am not with students, I descend as fast as I can equalize my ears. The speed of the water rushing past me gives me a high. I come to a perfectly controlled arrest, stopping a few feet above the reef in an effortless hover. It's like sky diving, but without the possible splat.

2. I love the surface. A good portion of my dive is spent looking up. The surface roils like some foreign atmosphere above my head. I like seeing waves upside down - little bubbles of air are trapped below the surface and sparkle in the light. On a clear day, I can see clouds, birds, and the diffused yellow circle of the sun. Looking at the surface keeps me aware of the vastness and power of the ocean. It makes me feel insignificant and secure at the same time. I am a miniscule being tucked comfortably beneath a blanket of water.

3. I love the silence. The terrestrial world is cacophonous. Until I get underwater I have to endure the rattle of the boat engines and the static-y white noise of the wind on my ears. Below the surface the upstairs world fades away. With the exception of the rush of my bubbles and an occasional crunch as a parrotfish takes a bite of coral, the environment is completely silent. I am only forty feet below the everyday world, but I might as well be light years away. For a short period of time, I am alone with my thoughts and at peace.

4. I love the sunlight on sand. On a bright day with clear water, rays of light shine all the way to the ocean floor. I am hypnotized by the playful antics of light beams on white sand. During their journey through the water, the rays break into little squirming rainbows which remind me of a psychedelic screen saver. I have spent whole dives ignoring turtles to staring intently at these dancing, shining bits of wonderful.

5. I love the sense of adventure. Even if I am swimming over a reef that I have visited a thousand times, I still have the sense that I am sneaking around a new and almost forbidden place. I could peek around a coral head and find a shark or unexpected seahorse. Every dive is different and I always feel a little bit like Jacques Cousteau underwater.

6. I love divers. Scuba diving makes me feel like I am part of a special, exclusive club. My friend Denise McDonald explained it well, "We all have our own secret language, hand signs and meeting places." Scuba divers share an admiration of the underwater world that few non-divers can understand. I have a sense of belonging - similar to being part of a secret society or a community of like-minded individuals.

Thanks to Natalie

Kathy Dowsett

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