Dad and I took the class together. I read the books and studied the colorful charts that the teacher pointed to in the dive shop. I learned about buoyancy compensators and decompression sickness. I learned the hand-signals. I was good to go.
We did our test dive in the pool at the YMCA. The first moment of being able to breathe underwater was mind-blowing, a whole new world opened up for me. Each inhale was a revelation. I was mesmerized by the bubbles that danced up to the surface when I exhaled. It was not something they could have explained in the textbook. My breath became an absolute wonder.
I’ve always had ear problems and as the dive master swam with me down to the deep end of the pool, my ears started to hurt from the pressure. He signaled for me to try to clear them, but it didn’t work. I panicked, forgot I could breathe underwater and tried to catapult myself up to the surface.
The dive master grabbed my arm.
He shook his head – No
He put his palm up in front of my face – Stop
He pointed to the regulator in my mouth, which was providing me oxygen – Breathe.
He made me just stay there for a moment. He locked eyes with me as my panic dissipated and I started to take smooth, long breaths. He signaled that I should try popping my ears again. This time it worked.
I was in the Bkram yoga hot room the other day and I was convinced there was just no air. I was dizzy, my heart was pounding and I wanted to quit and bolt up to the surface. Suddenly, that dive master from 20 years ago popped into my head, his bug-eyed mask was right in front of me again.
All I needed was right there, I just forgotten that it was accessible. I forgot what a wonder my breath was and that I could just be present with it and watch the bubbles dance. I could just chose to be still.
I had forgotten what I was capable of.
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