In at the deep end

Today has been a memorable one, as I officially took my first breaths underwater – hurrah! It’s rather unnerving at first, as it defies all your previous knowledge and experience about what is possible. But once you realise it’s OK and as long as your trust your equipment, it then becomes strangely relaxing and chilled out. There is a requirement to breathe continually, slowly and steadily and, as such, I can see how after a while scuba diving could become a fairly meditative experience, as regular divers are often quoted as saying.

My main motivation for doing the course has been to access a whole new sub-aquatic world of wildlife. Having recently glimpsed this world at the barrier reef, it’s too frustrating now to know it’s there, ripe for discovery, but be unable to access it. So down I must go.

My other reason is that it’s a big personal challenge. For some reason I am really nervous – I spent a lot of today mentally ticking myself off for starting to panic and trying to calm myself down by deep breathing and relaxing my muscles. I find myself tensing up until my muscles go into spasms – not helped by being cold for the first time since I arrived in Thailand (I actually had goose-bumps – I’d almost forgotten about these old friends) as we were standing around in the pool for a good four hours on an overcast day.

I think it’s linked to my irrational fear about being on small boats, which in itself is linked to a more specific fear of being submerged and trapped below the boat and drowning as a result. The knowledge that, tomorrow, I will descend up to 18 metres below the surface in the open ocean so that, if something goes wrong, I could drown, freaks me out somewhat. But I have to remember that the chances of something going wrong are miniscule as long as I follow all the instructions. But still, I’m not all that comfortable with feeling so dependent on my equipment and thus slightly out of control – guess that’s the nature of an irrational fear.

Anyway, I’ve foregone the offer of a night out on the town tonight in favour of a hearty pad thai and an early night to ensure I’m in the best condition for tomorrow’s ocean dive (today we stuck to the swimming pool – much less scary), so tales of how I did will hopefully come to you tomorrow… 🙂

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