"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
During my time in Maui a few weeks ago I was able to do some snorkeling with the fishes and sea turtles. Snorkeling is amazing to me, it’s a glimpse into a much larger world. I can look out over a beautiful seascape and forget just how much life thrives in the briny depths, but a quick dip in the ocean with a set of goggles is a window to a huge and awe-inspiring universe of bright colors, funny shapes, and delicate beauty.
Scuba diving gave me an even better chance to explore this new world. My first dive was in the warm and brilliant waters off of Baja California near Cabo San Lucas. Our resort offered introductory dives with a basic lesson in the swimming pool. We watched a video on how to use the diving equipment, learned how to equalize the pressure that would build in our heads as we dove, and basic hand signals to use underwater.
Soon we were seated on a catamaran and bound for a great dive spot along Land’s End. Our instructor helped us gear up, showed us one last time how our equipment worked. I remember feeling the butterflies flip flopping in my stomach once the oxygen tank was on my back – this was happening! The weight belt was so heavy, it was all I could do to sit upright.
We were given quick instruction on how to jump from the catamaran into the ocean without catching equipment on the edge or landing with our tanks on top of us. That part made me sweat a little, and no, not just because it was 100 degrees out. You mean I’d have to exit the boat in a coordinated fashion while bearing a tank and belt that throws me terribly off balance? Here we go…
Now, I know that the weight of an object doesn’t determine how fast it falls, but I dropped like a stone, a microsecond and I was in the water. Oh, the warm water. Time to adjust the diving mask, get used to the flippers, and pop the regulator in my mouth. Then it was down into the deep blue. So many colors, so many fish, I couldn’t see it all at once. A new world had opened up before my eyes. Sea plants covered the ocean floor, coral formed reefs and served as a haven to thousands of brilliant fishes. Every 10 feet that my depth gauge read I would have to adjust the pressure in my head by plugging my nose and wiggling it a bit. At 40 feet below the surface I could feel the goose bumps that had formed all over my body and longed for the warmth of the surface waters. But there was still so much to see. Our dive instructor would point out different fish to us along the way, including some baby barracuda and a moray eel that guarded his cavern with gaping maw ready to chomp on anything that came too close. The time passed too quickly and soon our tanks were nearly empty. We slowly surfaced, taking time to let our bodies adjust to the lessening pressure, until sweet sunshine and refreshing air came to us.
I could hardly believe all we had seen, it was as though I had discovered another planet teeming with foreign life. A world where I could only live with my special suit, my precious oxygen tank, and where the atmosphere threatened to crush my body if a dared investigate too deep. I might as well have traveled to space. And now I was back home, left to mull over the amazing planet I had seen below the water’s surface. We were helped back aboard the catamaran and once they removed my weight belt I could have flown, I felt so light. The ride back to the harbor gave me the chance to bask in the sun and rest in the awe of the adventure we’d just experienced.
If you ever get the chance to go scuba dive, don’t hesitate. It’s an incredible opportunity to explore more of our amazing world.