I started scuba diving when I was twelve years old. My uncle had developed a passion for it, and graciously shared his love of underwater adventuring with his family. He encouraged all of us to take the course to get certified which is why I spent cold winter nights in a frigid swimming pool after I turned twelve. I’m not sure if I started diving because I wanted to spend time with my uncle, or if I truly understood what a gift it was at the time.
My uncle spent countless hours studying dive tables with me, and helping me learn the math involved. I remember feeling frustrated, and annoyed my friends were at a school dance while I was learning to use a regulator (again in the cold pool). Time passed, and after what seems like a year - I finally made it to the open water dive.
The thing about learning to dive in Upstate NY is that “open water” means the St. Lawrence River along the Canadian border not the crystal blue oceans they show on the pamphlets and brochures. My first experience with open water diving was in the month of May, and the ice had thawed just a few weeks earlier. Needless to say it was COLD. And once you were able to accept the cold - you realized you were in what felt like total darkness. Just a jet black river in May with a bunch of equipment you’d used in a swimming pool at your local high school.
The good news is I passed the test, and I was fortunate enough to dive in some truly remarkable areas when I was younger. There was something so magical about seeing a side of the world that many people never experience. Diving to me felt like a secret passageway to a completely different society - one that had it’s own flow, energy, and sound. Each fish seemed to have a purpose, and a path despite their size. It was eye opening to see something so perfect exists without humans.
The bad news is I stopped diving. I’m not sure why it happened, or how it happened but I stopped. I could blame it on trouble with my ears, limited time, sad memories but I think the truth is I forgot. I forgot the magic of the water, and the gift that scuba provides. I forgot about the big beautiful world under the water.
My uncle passed away just a few short years ago, and just a couple of months prior to his passing we had taken a trip to the Caribbean together. He dove what he described as the “best dives of his life” while I sat by the pool. I don’t know if I was scared, selfish, or just plain stupid.
It’s been a while since I’ve been in the water, and while I’m nervous - I’m ready to see the world I once loved. The world I abandoned, and have contributed to declining. It’s time for me to face the music, and to have a voice in protecting the beautiful societies that live in the sea. For my uncle, for myself, and for a better planet.
Are you a scuba diver? Let us know in the comments!