Last year, my dad gave me the Christmas gift of a SCUBA
certification. That’s right! I am officially Open Water certified, meaning I
can go diving down to 60 feet deep and am familiar with many of the different
ways the water and diving can kill you. Honestly, though, it’s about as
dangerous as driving a car (not real statistics) but with fewer people,
beautiful and strange fish, and stunning seascapes.
Yes, I’m a little disappointed that I don’t live in Hawai’i
anymore, but now, if I ever find myself in the vicinity of Australia, I am
qualified to dive the Great Barrier Reef. That and diving is the closest humans
can get to experience weightlessness on planet Earth.
My next goal is to get my Advanced Open Water certificate.
I’d also love to get involved with Project AWARE, a nonprofit organization that
helps remove debris from the ocean.
The following poem is based on my last check out dive for my
I’m descending toward the sandy floor
like a leaf gradually twirling without wind
or a dust particle drifting past my window,
and I ask myself why I didn’t do this before.
When I first plunged my face beneath the surface in the pool,
I felt my breath catch—
people aren’t meant to breathe underwater.
But still, I remind myself to take a deep breath—
in and out—
like the way I prevent a panic attack.
All I have to do now is breathe, always breathe.
Now I reach the end of the line,
the minute anchor bobbing up and down with the waves—
I’m not even holding on, not this time,
which is good because I already have a rash
from where I tried to steady myself with my legs.
Another pound of pressure reminds me to exhale
through my nose,1 and a plethora of bubbles roars in my ears,
I’d almost forgotten what they sounded like—
if I stay here long enough, I’ve already begun to tune them out.
Before I quite reach the sand, I add air to my BCD2
like a satellite that doesn’t quite belong.
Yet I am here for a time, as an observer
to swim like the barracuda, glide like the ray,
relax like the puffer fish, and when I’m done,
I’ll hide between the pages of my book,
like the octopus and their shell-shaped door.3
1 Equalization. Removing air pressure on
one’s ears to prevent their eardrums from bursting. Fun fact: it’s easier for
women to equalize than it is for men.
2 BCD: Buoyancy Compensator Device.
Basically, a really fancy name for an inflatable vest that divers strap their
air cylinder to. When fully inflated, it also helps you float on the surface
and can be partially inflated underwater to achieve a sense of weightlessness
3 I almost didn’t see the octopus until my dive
instructor pointed it out because it was hiding in a cave-like structure and
using a large shell as a sort of door. My theory is that the octopus was using
it as a form of protection. See the Netflix documentary: My Teacher the
Let’s chat! What is one of the most amazing things you’ve done? Do you
prefer freshwater or saltwater? Any other SCUBA divers?