Today I turned a page. Hell, I started a whole new bloody chapter! I have officially gotten over my fear of the deep! When I came to Sulawesi I knew that I was coming to a diving Mecca. I came to snorkel and to maybe possibly perhaps to do an intro dive depending on how I felt when I got here. When I arrived to Bunaken Island it was pissing down. The crossing was jarring as the boat leapt over waves and then crashed down again. As I wondered how the boat didn't just break apart I heard a giant crack. It was part of the roof coming apart. When we neared the island I couldn't see a damn thing. Actually I was laughing my ass off cuz I couldn't see the shore or even more than 10 meters ahead of us. I figured the captain had been here plenty of times and would figure it out.
The boat stopped and I could see a bit of mangrove ahead of me. We all got out of the boat in waist high water and, fully clothed, I walked through the mangroves getting soaked to the bone. All I could do was laugh. I giggled the whole way there. I think the captain thought I was nuts because he kept looking back and laughing at me/with me. I couldn't tell the difference and didn't care. I was having fun.
That evening after dinner the dive guy came in and asked who would be diving the next day and I told him I'd do an intro dive. I told him about my Philippines experience and he said he'd take care of me. After he walked away I thought, "What the hell have I done?!?" The rest of the night was consumed with past fears and thoughts of "I can't".
In the morning I was calm and clear and strangely ok with everything. Maybe it was the book I've been reading about how it's merely our perception of things and not the situation and how if we change our thoughts, we change our minds and we change our reality. On the boat I was neither eager nor scared to dive. I simply "was". When we strapped on my gear the lessons came back to me and I remembered a lot of the technical stuff. We practiced mask clearing in shallow water and he taught me a different technique to clear my mask than I one I was taught. This was was simple and had no problem with it at all. I had a quick refresher and went into deeper water.
Jun, my instructor, was patient and kind. As we went deeper and deeper my mask started slowly filling with water. I was apprehensive about clearing it so deep. What if I had problems? Freaked out? Dropped my regulator? I did exactly as he showed me and aced that shit! I ended up clearing my mask more than I needed to just because I could, dammit. This time I enjoyed the fish and coral. Unlike in the Phils when I hated every second under water! I was able to breathe without panic and enjoyed the deep inhalations and exhalations, almost like a meditation. We dove a coral wall and there was so much life and beauty there. Beauty that exists not for us but just for themselves. I was a privileged spectator only allowed to watch for a very short time, then kicked out. Banished to my own world.
When the dive was over I was happy but calm. I was looking forward to the second dive of the day. That dive was even better as I could look around more, relax more. I saw turtles and big schools of fish. At one point I looked up and saw hundreds of fish darting around me. Instantly I thought, "It's raining fish! Hallelujah it's raining fish!" They glittered above me, yellow and white, grey and neon blue, even the plain silver ones were like mercury slipping through the sea. I got it. I finally understood why people love to dive. Before, I couldn't figure it out. Now I know. It takes you somewhere private both mentally and physically. And once I learned how to get over myself, get out of my head, change my thinking and therefore my reality, I damn well got it.
I signed on again for the next day too. Just one dive and a snorkel. And here I learned another lesson. And of course it's never the one I thought I was going to learn.
I feared the deep. When I snorkeled I would keep to the shallows never going anywhere near anyplace remotely deep. And a reef wall? Forget it. No thank you. Thar be sharkes in them thar waters! This time all I wanted to do was swim on the very edge of the reef wall. Where the shallows met the interminable blue. In crystal clear water I could see no bottom. Just a deep blue with shooting rays of light looking exactly like a star sapphire. That was where I wanted to be. The sharks weren't in my mind anymore. I didn't care about them because I saw turtles flying by. The unknown of the deep wasn't a fear anymore. I knew no fear. It was such a turning point. My brain turned off fear and what was left? Wonder. Sheer wonder.
And I discovered my new favorite thing: swimming through scuba diver's bubbles. When I was snorkeling I was enveloped in a cloud of bubbles. It was pure magic. The glitter of the bubbles in front of my face and popping on my skin felt like unicorns and rainbows exploding in orgasmic joy! I followed the bubbles for an obscenely long time until I saw a huge turtle nesting in a cave. Then more turtles swimming in the distance. Then a school of needlefish. Then... Well it just keeps on going.
It feels good, really really good to have one less fear. One more door opens when there is no monster lurking behind it. One more thing I can do when I travel. Now I just have to get certified. I know just the man to do it too! I'm so excited!!!