Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts On The Kronosaurus and Me

There’s an elusive peace I find in scuba diving, a sort of zen calm when things are going properly.  This is not always the case as I don’t really know what I am doing and my gear is all rented.  I place a great deal of trust in total strangers named things like “Cheech” and “Tiger” who have gold teeth and provide unclear directions in broken English.  However, as it is their country and I don’t speak any Spanish, I can’t get too particular.  I have the same sort of faith in dive guides as I do Uber drivers.  I just assume “Hey, they’re professional.  They know what they are doing.”  This is clearly flawed thinking as anyone can be an Uber driver, and almost every person behind the wheel demonstrates gross incompetence every rush hour.  Why do I think a guy on a beat up boat on an island in Mexico has been vetted to guarantee total scuba professionalism?  It’s better not to think about it too hard.  I wash it from my mind as I flop in the water, dropping down to 90 feet popping my ears as I go.  

It’s taken me a few years, but I finally have the buoyancy concept down.  I spent my first few years diving either sinking to the bottom like a stone, having to delicately and ineffectively puff air into my vest to avoid dropping down to the abyss OR trying to avoid floating to the surface like a cheap plastic bag.  Each time I get on a dive boat, Cheech will ask me “Señor?  How much weight do you need?”, to which I will reply “Uhhh, I don’t know?  14?”.  I never remember as it has been so long since I did it last.  Then Cheech will give me an unverified amount of weight I hope would allow me to float like Superman once I get in the water.  It is almost always the wrong amount of weight though or my sheer lack of experience screws me.

Things are looking up.  I have finally found a mask that fits me.  Let me tell you from experience, it is very disappointing to have your mask filling with salt water as the current shoves you into a cave with a black tipped shark swimming out annoyed you are stopping by for a visit.  That happened in Costa Rica on a fruitless quest to see a Manta Ray.  All I saw there was the salt water line going up and down on my mask as I sort of cleared it and let it fill again.  The next day when the visibility was down to about 15 feet and I lost everyone while sitting on the sandy bottom at 110 feet trying to once again clear my mask to see, I thought, “I should really find a mask that fits so I don’t die alone in the Pacific.”.       

The problem appears to be my giant pumpkin head.  I might have a poorly formed skull, Neanderthal-like, as if I am some kind of modern primitive.  “Korg jump into water.  Korg no see Manta.  Korg float into coral and get ripped open like Christmas present.”  You don’t hear much about cavemen scuba diving.  This is likely as they probably couldn’t figure out how to compress oxygen so soon after discovering fire and then the wheel.  There was probably a lag time.  Plus, it was a more hazardous pursuit with actual sea monsters swimming the waters looking at hairy guys like me as prey.  A spear will only do you so much good against a 30 foot long Kronosaurus.  

These are not my problems now.  This time everything came together.  I floated down smoothly, the current pushing me comfortably past colorful coral formations.  Little fish with bright yellows, oranges and reds darted in and across the nooks of the reef.  My breathing was slow and easy.  I let all the air out of my lungs and floated down further, hovering closely above a tiny hole where a thick cranky moray eel glared at me.  I hovered up and allowed myself to drift in the current.  A school of yellow and black striped little fish swam through me, their wide eyes suggesting expressions of surprise.  An enormous turtle the size of a desk sat atop a rocky outcropping chewing on a snack.  His heavy lidded eyes looked at me with indifference.  The current pushed me on.  The less I did, the more control I felt, the more at ease.  I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just existing and letting the small activities and dramas of the reef wash over me.  I then made my mistake.  I noticed my mental state of zen.

This, of course, wrecked it.  It’s like when I am singing a song strictly from muscle memory.  I am not thinking about anything, just doing.  There is no need to concentrate on remembering the lyrics.  They are there.  You just have to allow them to come out and not make the mistake of noticing that you aren’t thinking about it.  Once I think, “Wow, I’m singing Trucker Bomb and I don’t even know what verse we’re on”, I’m lost.  The magic spell has been broken and you’re a mouse without shoes.

I started to worry about how much air I had left, thinking about how fast I was breathing, and noticing that maybe I had an itch by my left eye.  My mind left the serene and started to think think think.  I was out of the moment and back in the mental space I had dove into the water to rid myself of. The overactive brain nestled inside the misshapen modern primitive skull floated along trying to get back to the serenity that had disappeared as mysteriously as it had come.  I looked up at the sun shining on the surface, drifted under the buoy, and hoped to do better next time.  


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home