Face Your Fear: A scuba diving story
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”- FDR
“If you’re goin’ through hell, keep on goin’ don’t slow down, if you’re scared don’t show it, you might get out, ‘fore the devil even knows your there” is the refrain to a song by Rodney Atkins. These lyrics ring true to me. I have turned back way to many times when I should have marched straight into the mouth of the beast. Sometimes the beast doesn’t even have teeth.
During my families’ vacation to Myrtle Beach, my Mom and I decided to go scuba diving. We signed up for a trip that took us out to see two sunken ships; one barge, and one tanker. We boarded the diving boat with around fifteen other divers. When we reached the dive site we put on all of our scuba gear and jumped into the water. Soon we let ourselves sink below the surface. It is always a cool experience as you take the first few breaths under water and adjust to the freedom and weightlessness. There was a chain tied from the diving boat to the sunken tanker for us to descend down. My mother and I had gone on many dives before, but we had never gone diving without a dive master right next to us and we had always been able to see for hundreds of feet through crystal clear water.
For this dive we were alone, with visibility that must have been less than five feet. At twenty feet deep we stopped descending as the fear of getting lost settled in, we were surrounded by nothing. The segment of chain that we could see and hold was the only thing that kept us connected to reality. The current tried to sweep us away. My grip tightened on the chain as no other divers appeared around us. I clamped the breathing apparatus tight between my teeth, holding on to it as if my life depended on it (which it just about did). I did not want to continue down; I could not continue down, the unknown was too frightening. My mom was just as afraid. I am sure that we were both thinking of returning to the safety of the boat; however, we would not give up on the dive, we could not let the dark water below scare us. Soon we were both forcing hand over hand down the chain, deeper into the murky water. After an eternity of being lost in nothingness, a ghostly shadow loomed from below. The barnacle laden propeller of the dead ship reached out at us, one hundred times as scary as any cursed pirate ship movie. We had reached the end of the chain. The only way to continue was to face our fear. We had to make a choice; return to the boat and escape from our fear, or release the chain and face our fear in the hope that we would be able to enter a beautiful realm of fish and coral. Releasing the chain was hard. It meant no ties to safety or civilization, no way to prevent ourselves from being lost forever. We both released the chain and traveled slowly down the hull of the corroded ship.
Near the bottom the visibility exploded to twenty feet and we weren’t alone anymore. Huge schools of fish with amazing colors and odd shapes surrounded us. A few of our fellow divers swam along the hull of the ship. The ship was no longer frightening, it was an adventure. The chain wasn’t our doom, it was our guide home. If we had turned back we would have missed a wonderful experience. It was well worth traveling down the chain for the amazing view at the bottom. If we had gotten to the bottom of that spooky ship and seen nothing, that would still be better than returning to the surface without even attempting to see something. To achieve anything you have to push through the bad to reach the good.
We swam around that interesting tanker until our air was almost out, and then went back up to the boat. Soon we were strapping on our second tank of air to dive into the unknown again for the chance of reaching something wonderful.