My friend Betty and I decided to go to Mexico together in November some years ago. She had her dive ticket and suggested I got mine before we went so we could do some diving together. It was really far outside of my comfort zone but I took my lessons in freezing BC waters in a dry suit, got certified and was excited and nervous to try out the warmer waters of Mexico.
We found some other experienced divers at the resort, they had organized a more expert dive in a forest of coral with a local dive guide and Betty was pretty stoked to be invited to a less touristy dive. I was also stoked but slightly nervous as I had never dived with a group, never dived in deep waters and never dived without my instructor. I was worried I would make a mistake or hold the group back.
Everyone assured me there was enough experience in the group to make up for my lack of knowledge and we were in good hands. We left first thing the next morning.
I was paired with one of our expert buddies and we dove, through coral and beauty. You can feel God in the waters the same way you can feel him in the mountains. It was awesome. Throughout the dive I tried to keep track of the whole group, there were six of us and everyone looked pretty similar. I wanted to make sure Betty and our new dive buddies were okay. It was magical but tough work keeping track of everyone, remembering how to breath, and taking in the surroundings. Then unbeknownst to me my diving buddy lost his camera and in a moment everything changed as he left me to search for it.
I’m not sure what happened in those few moments but the current was strong and somehow I was left behind, no group, no buddy, nobody. Terrified, alone, the sound of my breath loud in my ears, looking up, down, left, right for someone. The sound of speed boats above were equally terrifying and I knew if I tried to pop up on my own I might get hit. In what felt like hours but was only minutes I tried to stay in one place, I told myself to calm my breathing, and I talked to God. I tried to figure out what to do, knowing the next step was to swim up. I did not check my air. My breathing was heavy despite my attempts to calm myself and I was feeling pretty scared. Then our dive guide was with me, he signalled we were going up and we started to ascend.
As we rose from the water I tried to calm down and as we approached the surface the guide and I looked at my air levels… instantly our eyes met. I was out of air. We both silently acknowledged what remained unsaid. A close call.
I thought of this story the other day, how I had used twice as much air trying to keep track of the whole group, a group that were far more capable than me. How my dive buddy was a stranger and maybe not the best buddy for me in deep unknown waters, and how I had forgotten to check my own air.
Although a far away story and a combination of mistakes and blessings helped this story unfold I realized it’s not that far off everyday life.
Watch your own air
Have a buddy check your air once in a while
Know who your buddies are
Don’t worry so much about every buddy, buddies have a pretty good
tendency to take care of themselves
When things are scary, take moments to focus on your breath and talk to God
And remember ... even though 40 feet deep I was out of air, 40 feet above me was more air than I could breathe...
Sometimes you just have to swim up.