18 Oct What Scuba diving will teach you about life.
Often when I reflect on experiences I like to think about what I have learned that applies to life in general. Quite often these things can be quite profound, other times it’s slightly silly or ridiculous. Here are my thoughts on what I believe scuba diving teaches about life in general.
1. Just breathe
This is arguably rule number 1 in SCUBA. I would say it’s also rule number 1 in life. Get it? Because it’s likely you will die if you don’t. Seriously though, it might sound like common sense, but a lot of people either hold their breath, breathe shallow or forget to breathe altogether. This can cause all sorts of problems.
If you are taking fast and shallow breaths or not breathing at all you are most likely panicking. Panicked divers are very dangerous not only to themselves, but also to the people around them. Such a diver might injure or endanger others by flailing around and hitting others’ equipment. They could also ascend to the surface too quickly (without a safety stop).
Remembering to keep calm and to normalize your breathing is not only part of the safety procedure, but also a way to maximize your time underwater and consequently your diving experiences. The same applies to life. A lot of problems can be resolved by just taking a step back, taking a few deep breaths and re-evaluating the situation, rather than rushing into a panic. Deep breathing is also shown to have numerous health and emotional benefits. If you want to take it a step further, I personally liken a relaxing dive to a type of meditation and as you know meditation has a lot to do with breathing.
So my lesson is this. Being reactionary and quick to action in a state of stress often leads to the wrong decisions. It is best to just take a step back, take a few deep breaths, calm down and re-evaluate your situation/decision.
2. Buddy up
You cannot go Scuba diving alone under any circumstance. This is not only dangerous, but in some cases it is illegal. Diving with a buddy is also a key part of the safety procedure and even in larger teams there are always sub-pairs of two. Buddies insure your gear is working and secured, they check on you during the dive and they are always there to help in case something happens.
Life is pretty much the same. Starting a business or getting married for example all require a “buddy”. Many other worthwhile activities are best done with 2 or more people. Experiencing the world through the eyes of others and seeing their emotions and reactions to the events around you can add some much more depth to life.
Just like in SCUBA, safety in numbers applies. Having someone to watch your back and care for you if something happens (illness, accidents, etc) greatly increases you odds for survival.
The point is, life is best lived socially. Sure, being a hermit once in a while can be beneficial for your mental health, but we cannot live truly healthy lives alone.
3. Deeper isn’t better
In Scuba and in life, there are people who see competitions in everything. There are groups of divers who challenge themselves to go deeper than each other, often to fatal ends. Why? Because they are overly competitive and believe depth is a medal of honor.
For most divers, the best experiences can be had in depths up to 20-25 m. This is where sea life is most colorful and abundant. At these depths you can just take it slow, have a nice long dive and take in the views.
Same applies to our lives. Often we get lost in competition and chasing meaningless goals, just for the sake of it. We forget to slow down, be thankful for what we have and enjoy living in the moment. To appreciate the small things is harder than it sounds, but is one of the greater things in life.
4. Don’t cheap out on things that could save your life
It baffles me why a diver would want to go diving with a 15+ year old tank, questionable regulators or poorly maintained/very old gear. After all, your life depends on this.
This is similar to putting old/very cheap tires or breaks on your car. Why would you cheap out on something that could potentially cost you your life. When it comes to your safety, always go for the highest quality you can afford. If you can’t afford anything, just don’t do it. Is your life really worth so little?
5. Everyone has to pull their own weight
A good diver must always take good care of the gear they use, especially if the gear is rented. It is common that diving involves a lot of movement of equipment in and out of boats and cars/trucks. If you do not carry your own gear you slow down the whole group and consequently the dive. Not only is that frowned upon, but it is generally just disrespectful. It is also important to properly clean the equipment after a dive and you really should not expect someone else to do that for you.
If you cannot carry your own weight in your regular life, then it is likely that you become a burden to those around you. This is not only bad for your social life, but could make it difficult for you to find work. The same applies to entitlement. If you believe the government must take care of you, or your parents must buy you things, or your girlfriend has to cook for you, then most likely you will end up disappointed or in a bad situation. Take care of your shit, clean up after yourself, carry your own damn weight. No one has to carry it for you.