– I’ve tried my hardest to keep things in line along this trip. So far the only time I have switched any goals was to accomidate my deportation problems and once in New Zealand.
So far changing the script has been good and bad but, I’ve decided to take one FINAL risk.
This one is an easy choice though and even as I write this I’m smiling about it.
Today I decided to forgo the “Gibbon Experience” for the chance to get my open water in SCUBA. And although zip lining through one of the last dense habitations of forest in Asia has its perks, its not going to give me the challenge SCUBA will.
SCUBA to me is a big challenge. When it comes to me and SCUBA diving I have a deep dark secret surrounded by a web of lies all constructed to hide my fear of assisted breathing.
You see, I’ve always had a healthy fear of the ocean. I LOVE to surf, swim, snorkel and play in the water, but what’s underneath the surface has always intimidated me. While most people feel more comfortable underwater where they can face danger eye to eye, I would much rather sit on top and be taken out with seeing anything.
To protect myself, I have always had an ace up my sleeve that keeps me from having to confront my fear. Over the years I have managed to break my nose three times and fracture it once. As a result I can only breathe out of one nostril. This makes it hard for me to equalize under water. I don’t know if that’s really the main reason I just use it as an excuse because it sounds good and it keeps me from trying. I have had many invitations to go diving and have been asked many times why I don’t. Each time the answer is the same:
“I broke my nose and can’t equalize, so its impossible for me to dive”
Utter and complete bullshit. I have not once checked into seeing if this is really the case.
It wasn’t until this week when I met a guy named Stephen, that my shameful lie started to knaw at me. As per usual I lied when asked about diving, but Stephens experience underwater and our conversation about facing challenges head on starting the wheels in motion.
Stephen had stumbled upon diving by chance and within a week had his open water. Incredible as the adventure was it didn’t come without a few gut checks along the way.
In open water, nineteen meters below the surface Stephen had a panic attack. He was sure he was short of air and that his air supply was faulty. Quickly both his instructor and friend switched air and found nothing wrong. Unfortunately for Stephen, this was of little help. His brain had been switched to panic mode and he was ready to ascend and end the nightmare. This would have been easy and every bone in his body was ready to assist him to the surface, but he decided to turn around face the open water in front of him and breathe. In and out, in and out….slowly but surely the air filled his lungs and he settled into things under the sea. Later, on the surface he kept his panic attack nightmare to himself and carried on with the day, diving at a few more spots.
Now he looks at diving as the single best thing he has done to date and is considering going back to Koh Tao to find work at a dive shop.
So after hearing this I thought to myself; “Isn’t a big part of this trip about facing fears?” and “Isn’t diving one of you biggest fears?” and “Wouldn’t it be extremely stupid to pass up this opportunity?”. Every question had a resounding YES!!! at the end of it.
As luck would have it, a friend of mine from Hawaii now spends a considerable amount of time in Vietnam. He also happens to live in Nha Trang which is the best spot in Vietnam to dive. That coupled with his ocean and diving experience practically leaves me no choice!!
So to make that LONG STORY short. I’m headed for the coast again in about a week to do some diving!! I’ve got some tubing in Laos and some Junk Boating in Ha Long Bay to do first, so I’m not looking too far ahead, BUT I’m pretty excited I decided to man up and stop being such a baby about it.