It felt like learning to walk again. Taking a hand from one of my classmates, I pulled myself up from the shallow rocks outlining the wooden platform. Embarrassed that I had stumbled before we had really even entered the water, I looked around to see how the rest of the class was faring. A couple of them were also struggling to get back up under the weight of the scuba gear, while a few others were cautiously picking their steps deeper into the grotto. Our instructors were already in the water, securing their fins.
Carefully avoiding another sharp decline, I lowered myself into the depths of the dark water, illuminated only by the dimly lit lamps sparsely placed throughout the cavern wall. The effect of the grotto bestowed an eerie, hollow quality upon the sound of the sloshing of water. The whole time, I was wondering whether or not I was actually ready for this. I’ve always wanted to try new things, but have always been too reluctant to seize any opportunity that came my way. I had to struggle through training in the YMCA pool, who knew how I would do in an actual dive? At least the water was warmer than the chilly December wind.
Guess it’s now or never . . . I popped the regulator into my mouth and motioned to my dive partner, Sara to begin the descent. At this point, I realized that my tank wasn’t secured properly, as it kept swinging to the right, forcing me to grip my vest to hold the tank in place. I realized that I was breathing too rapidly, as if I was panicking. I shouldn’t be scared. Why does it feel as if I am? Humans were meant to be on land and to run. That is right. Maybe a part of me is trying to warn myself not to be down here. I worriedly pictured what would happen if my tank slipped off. I could easily be in danger.
When my breathing became more controlled, I was able to think clearly. I began to survey my surroundings. To the right, the stony bottom of the grotto sloped up to the surface. Small groups of fish slowly swam in circles, occasionally disappearing in the little vegetation that was present. It really does feel wonderful down here. It’s quiet. It has a personal feeling to it, like I’m alone. Even though I guess I’m really not. My gaze drifted back to the platform and to my dive instructor, who motioned me to remove my regulator, drop it, and then retrieve it. I quickly glanced at the rest of the group and saw that I was the last to be tested. Why am I scared at all? So many people have done riskier things. Well, here goes nothing . . . I reached, grabbed my regulator, and tossed it aside–resolving to let my hesitation and fear float away with it.