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therefore I am...
There is a moment that defines a scuba diver. It is the moment just after the surface closes overhead and the atmospheric world is forgotten. At this instant, I feel inner warmth, no matter how cold the water is, I feel calm, no matter how rough the water is, I feel welcome, no matter how fearsome and stressed life on the surface is before I entered the sea. I sink and my mind forgets, if only temporarily, the problems of the surface.
I hear only the sounds of the ocean. I see only the sites that God intended me to see. I am weightless, gliding free not only physically, but mentally as well. I am home.
There are those that say that the underwater world is alien - that divers become part of the food chain. They argue that we are out of our element, out of our minds, that nature did not design us for under the water. It's dangerous, there are sharks, eels and God only knows what's down there under the ocean surface. Well, I say: "Then stay on the surface; I'm going diving".
I've experienced things that not to many people have experienced, I've seen some amazing things that not to many people have seen. I've hitched a ride on a Whale Shark, I've kissed a Harbor Seal, I've scratched behind the ears of baby Sea Lions, I've seen Octopus doing a mating dance, and a whole lot more. It's quite literally living and doing what we all have seen on PBS, Discovery Channel, The Travel Channel, and the Nation Geographic channel.
We might not have been born with fins and gills, but nature did give us a brain. Some 50 years ago, Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan used their brains to invent a device that made breathing underwater with a self-contained air supply possible; i.e. the regulator - and SCUBA diving was born.
Unfortunately, human brains vary greatly in size and efficiency. This is why some of the scuba marketing experts have come up with some curious quirks appealing to the ego rather than common sense. These strange quirks I'm talking about are such things like a Buoyancy Compensator with enough lift to raise the titanic, snorkels with more tubes and valves than an oil refinery, special self purging masks that automatically adjust to the changing depths - ahem... Huh! And then there's my favorite, masks with tinted blue-blocker lenses that enable you to see the all the colors underwater that aren't there but would be if the ocean was filled with air instead of water.
Anyway, divers have solved the not very difficult technical problems of swimming underwater. We have certainly passed the level necessary to tell the "Alien Environment" people to be "quiet 'til they've tried it".
Just for a minute imagine yourself sitting on a low cliff looking down on the sea. What you actually see is the surface with waves and the reflections of the sun and clouds - but just imagine if the surface was really totally transparent and you could see all the fish swimming around right down to the ocean floor. You would be looking at green and purple corals, a school of playful jacks, a pair of Manta rays in courtship or a mother and her young sea lion pup playing as only they understand.
If this were reality we would be far more familiar with marine creatures. Many of their mysteries would be revealed, and we would know what to expect when we went Scuba diving. More importantly, everyone else would have a better idea of what we experience while we're down there.
But, for the most part, we cannot see through the surface of the sea. Even though the water is clear, refraction distorts the light rays from the sun so that only vague and uncertain glimpses of the underwater world are possible for non-divers. So in the same way young children fear the dark, people have a natural fear of the sea. It is really the fear of the unknown. As divers, we know that the underwater world is friendly, welcoming, beautiful, and completely fascinating. We do not harbor irrational fears of monsters of the deep or black depths swallowing us up.
When you have passed through the surface and the ocean has enveloped you, you are descending to the deep. If you feel happy and relaxed, excited but not afraid, free and welcome as if you have escaped from the mad alien world of the surface, then you are a diver.
Dive safe and often...
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