When I first thought about trying scuba diving, I had two emotions—terror and wonderment.
I’m an avid swimmer, lifeguarded during high school, but also saw the movie Jaws and didn’t go in freshwater lakes for years after that. Also, I’m a wee bit claustrophobic and wondered if the pressure of all that water on top of me would trigger something that made me want to rush to the surface for fresh air. Rushing up is a big no-no in diving.
Turned out, I loved it. And the feeling was the polar opposite to being closed in. I felt like I was flying. Slowly flying through a dense medium, but suspended and free from gravity and the need for feet to propel me forward.
My first dive off Nassau was spent trying to gain neutral buoyancy and keep up with the group because the instructor had given me too much weight to keep under, but the distraction of swimming alongside fish and floating through coral gardens was not lessened by pushing off the sand every few minutes.
I went on to dive off Maui on a vacation in my mid-twenties and loved it so much that I signed up to take my dive certification class over the next five days. It’s a crash course they offer in resort areas where you can cancel all other planned activities to stay wet for five days learning how to dive safely. I then went home (which was British Columbia, Canada) and took the courses needed to become a Dive Master. Diving in dark, frigid water was much different from the turquoise, clear waters of Hawaii but it made me a better diver. And gave me an appreciation of diving in a shorty wetsuit with no hood or legs!
Then, I quit my job and moved to Maui to take my instructor course and work as a dive instructor. I ended up certifying hundreds of students, making over five thousand dives in eleven years and loving almost every minute of it. I say almost because I did have some moments I could have done without like being on a sinking dive boat in the middle of the ocean, getting trapped inside a dark cave with a shark and having a student lose a finger when his wedding ring caught on the boat handrail and he jumped into the water. Even writing that last sentence makes me cringe.
I did see sharks down there, and they had no interest in me as another large sea creature. I swam with dolphins, saw Humpback whales, had an octopus suction on to my bare armpit, dove caverns, caves, went on night dives with an underwater light, and ran a successful business called Kimberley’s Scubadventures. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
In my bestselling book The Dream Jumper’s Promise, the hero is a dive instructor on Maui and has a fear of the ocean after her husband goes missing while surfing. She can’t teach or even go on her dive boat. When an old boyfriend shows up with a strange way to help, she must decide if she trusts him enough to allow him back in to her life. There are lots of diving scenes in the book and I’ve been told it’s quite thrilling to read them.
Write what you know, and I know diving.
Was it good to push past my fear of being under the water to try diving? Absolutely! It opened a whole new world to me and led me to the fantastic life I now lead, even if I only dive on vacation twice a year now like in these photos of me diving last year at the Cathedral Caverns off Lanai, Hawaii. Conquering fear is a wonderful way to feel good about yourself. And as I always say to my daughter who is very fearful of many things, “It’s not brave if you aren’t fearful in the first place.”
Do you have something on your bucket list you want to try but haven’t because of fear? Tell us…
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