Early early the morning after our campfire, I headed down to Eugene for a huge SCUBA sale where I was going to either (a) decide to SCUBA in South Caicos and buy all my gear, or (b) decide it would be too expensive and I would just buy what I needed to snorkel (still a wetsuit, etc.). But in my head I had pretty much convinced myself that this would be the opportunity of a lifetime and I should just pay whatever price and SCUBA… I mean, how often will I live for 3 months in the Caribbean with some of the best diving in the world?? Probably never again. But then there is one tiny problem.. I might be scared of diving. We’ll see. I’m really hoping that warm water diving will be so far beyond Pacific NW diving that I won’t be afraid at all, but there is the SLIGHT possibility that I will buy all this gear and then hate it even in the Caribbean. But at that point I would probably make myself do it anyway as a growth experience. So anyway, how this fear thing all started…
So when Caicos was actually going to happen, I looked at the program and decided I would learn to SCUBA.. it had always been on my bucket list and looked like a ton of fun. Since it is a marine resource program, there is ocean field work every day and some ocean research (not mine though, because my thesis will be more socioeconomic related and not strictly marine bio), and you have 2 options: you can SCUBA or snorkel. They don’t really care which (though most people SCUBA it sounds like), but whatever you choose, you must bring all of your gear because they are too small to have any dive rental shops. So I signed up for an open water SCUBA class at OSU spring term, thinking I will get certified for South and fulfill my P.E. credit at the same time. Life was a breeze, and every Monday I went to 2 hours of classroom lecture and 2 hours in the pool, and every Wednesday another 2 hours of lecture. Around week 3, I was on the bottom of the pool with my class of 25 peers and 3 dive instructors and I started having breathing issues: every time I breathed in, my regulator would fill up with water; when I would clear it, then my mask filled up; I cleared that and my reg filled up again. I started to get panicky as I couldn’t breathe and kept getting mouthfuls of water. We were told that no matter what we were supposed to solve our problems where they happened, so if you have a problem on the bottom, you should solve it there (not surface for everything). But I was way too scared and couldn’t tell what was wrong, so I made a freaked out motion to my dive buddy and kicked up to the surface. Moments later my instructor came up and asked what was wrong, but the burly guy was very unsympathetic and simply said he couldn’t tell what was wrong but thought my mouth wasn’t sealing around the reg good enough. Then he proceeded to tell me that since we were doing emergency breathing on the bottom, he couldn’t let me keep going until I did that skill. The emergency breathing exercise consists of the instructor turning off your air tank and you breathing until there is no air left, and then you signal that you are OUT OF AIR AND CAN’T BREATHE !!!and then they will turn your air back on. SCARIEST EXERCISE OF MY LIFE! And so, even though I am still all panicky from my drowning moment on the bottom just minutes ago, my instructor turns off my air and watches me gulp the remaining air and then quickly signal. Surviving that, he then motioned for us to descend again to the bottom where the rest of the class had continued on and my buddy was likely bewildered. At this point I was still shaking and close to tears because one of my biggest fears is being without air. And the minute I get to the bottom, my instructor TURNS OFF MY AIR AGAIN!!! I had to repeat the skill again at the bottom to simulate the real thing. Oh my word, scariest thing ever. At that point, it was all I could do not to walk out of the class. I told myself I could survive another hour and then there was no one making me continue. I barely made it out of there and then was immediately contemplating my options.. I decided I wouldn’t go on the open water certification trip, and depending on the next week I would possibly drop the class.
Unfortunately, after that week I had a fear of the water in me which made it a struggle to keep trying and some of the fun from before was gone. I kept at it though, trying to convince myself it was just a bad week, and I was having fun, right? It did get better, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to dive open water because what if I had another freak out moment at 60 feet down?! I was so glad to talk to another diver friend who understood what I was working through — insignificant in the long run I knew, but that was my life this spring. As the dive trip approached though, I started thinking that I might always regret it if I didn’t follow this through and get certified (plus I got some unsympathetic “oh come on I think you should do it” advice from my sister). So 2 days before the trip, I decided to go for it.
That Friday, my peers and I packed our gear and our selves into 12 passenger vans and headed for Lilliwaup, Washington. We were going to get our open water dives done in the Sound, and we were staying at Mike’s Beach Resort– but don’t let the name fool you, it’s not a resort. The room they had for groups like ours was one huge open area with bunks 3 stories high along the walls, garage sale couches and scattered furniture clustered in the middle (and more bunks), a sparse kitchen along the far wall, 1 regular bathroom, and a group bathroom with a group shower and 3 curtained-off toilets. For 25 people. All in that room. And only 6 of them were girls. Including me.
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.