I was reflecting on why we scuba dive recently from the beach of one our favorite Caribbean dive destinations. Earlier in the day, a passer-by noticed Debbie and me gearing up for a dive, and asked why we liked to do it. Assuming the questioner didn’t have an hour to listen to the full answer, and because we did not want to delay our planned morning dives, we gave a quick “because it’s so beautiful and interesting” response. But with the asking of the question, and a couple of dives to give clarity to the answer, I was reminded of exactly why we scuba dive.
Debbie and I dive because it is a beautiful experience to share. It is adventure that everyone (or almost everyone) can engage in, and there are no cell phones 80 feet beneath the surface. The beauty and solitude of the sea is uninterrupted by outside distractions, and that is a unique and very good thing. Off-gassing with a cold local brew after a morning of diving, while watching a tennis match on the condo courts nearby, I observed an interruption as a cell phone rang, was answered, and a business matter in L.A. was attended to. How sad for those who think they are on a vacation getaway, but have gotten away from, well, nothing.
I enjoy our local diving in Colorado, even when it’s a work day with new and continuing students, but to truly get away with family and friends, enjoying the beauty and solitude of the reef is, frankly, infinitely better. For example, on our second day of that Caribbean dive trip, our small group of divers danced with stingrays for a while at the end of a 60-minute dive, something we just can’t do back home. In fact, we have done lots of things during dives that can be done nowhere else. We have listened to whale song in Hawaii, done a dance with turtles in the Pacific and the Caribbean, watched interesting fish behavior, played with sea lions off the California coast, and so much more. Here is a poem about I wrote after my first ocean dives, many years ago, trying to capture the experience:
Beneath the world of land and sky
Is another world; a world that I
Have visited for a time, but could not stay
As long as I wanted. This world of ray
And shark, of fish and whale, of wonderful creatures
Of strange colors, shapes, and features
Lies beneath the foam and waves of the sea.
Ancient reefs call to me
To come and share in their beauty,
To bathe in their serenity.
This deep blue world of perfection
Massages my soul, and relieves the tension
Of living on the noisy land,
For here no noise disturbs the sand
Or coral or walls or caves,
Nor are they disturbed by waves
Which crash around the land world’s rim.
This deep blue world remains calm in dim
Subdued light, filtered and made gentle by the depths.
I feel a part, but am only a guest
In this undersea Eden
From which I must depart for a season,
Left to remember, and to anticipate the day
When I may return.
Some divers will tell you they dive because they can. I’d like to be able to say that, but the truth is, after all these years, I dive because I must. It’s not really an addiction, despite what some of my friends might tell you. Debbie knows; she dives too and feels like I do — not an addiction, just necessary therapy that keeps me sane. We hope you feel the same.
By Divemaster Dennis