Saturday, December 4, 2010

Alive - Reverb 10 prompt 3

Prompt 3-
December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
My tweetday 3. What moment this year did feel most alive?Short answer 50' underwater after passing PADI dive certification. Blog to follow

This one was easy. Just reading the prompt brought back a flood of memories. Two vivid. Both from the same day. Within minutes of the other. Scuba diving in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The dive where I became a certified PADI diver. The dive were I passed the final test - the CESA, controlled emergency swimming ascent. I'd been dreading this test since the day I heard it described by my classroom instructor. Struggled in the pool, finding it mentally difficult to swim slowly, breathing a slow steady stream of air. Convinced I didn't have enough lung capacity to do this. Convinced that this one test would be the reason I did not achieve a life long dream of becoming a certified diver.

In the pool - both here in Wisconsin when I took the classroom/confined pool portion of the Open Water diver course and at my check-out pool work in Mexico, the more I worried, the tighter my chest contracted. The faster I swam. Too fast. In a real life diving situation swimming to the surface this fast I'd risk bursting my lungs as I rose to the surface -the air in my lungs expanding due to less pressure. But mentally I couldn't get past the thought I'd run out of air. 30 year old flash backs to high school, getting certified as a life guard and struggling with the requirement to swim a pool length underwater.

Of course, in a pool you are swimming horizontally. You don't have the advantage of the air in your lungs expanding as you swim to the surface. Both instructors - the WI one and the Mexican one, repeatedly assured me that I would not run out of air. The analytical side of me understood this. Understood the science. Knew I'd been well trained by great instructors. Yet, I was terrified of failing.

Breaking the surface after a remarkably easy CESA. Having the divemaster at the top say, "Congratulations you're a Diver". A true moment of being alive.

The second came minutes later. Having passed the final tests, we went back down for another dive.

Diving is interesting from a senses perspective. Sound is different than on the surface. Quiet, just the sounds of my breath. A feeling of weightlessness. Colors are muted - the deeper you go, bits of the color spectrum are lost. But yet, a constant beauty A world unlike the surface. Beauty combined with danger.

Swimming along behind the divemaster, he suddenly swam down through a vertical tunnel in the coral, taking us to a small underwater cave or swim through. This was significant. Until you are a certified diver, the guide or divemaster cannot take you through any swim throughs- you must always have just water above you. Here I was being led into a swim through. And at that moment it hit me. I'd done it. After so many, many years of wishing I could scuba dive, of being afraid, of not being physically fit enough, I had become a diver.  Alive only begins to describe the feeling.

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