CHAPTER 1: WATER
Water and I have had a tempestuous relationship. Around the age of 7, I was swimming at the local pool and a girl, perhaps a year or two older than I, jumped into the pool about 3-feet from where I was; a little too close for my liking given the splash she generated. In a passive/aggressive fit of vengeance, I "inadvertently" kicked water in her face. She, in turn, responded by grabbing me and shoving my head underwater for what seemed like 20 minutes (it was probably 3 or 4 seconds). When I broke the surface of the water again, and took a much-appreciated breath, I was blown away how bold the "weaker" sex could be. Nevertheless, she'd gotten her point across and I never messed with her again. It was clear that both girls and water - especially in tandem - were worthy of respect.
15 years later, I was in Hawaii on a "boogie board" trying to balance on water. Not paying attention, I turned my back on the waves which follow a rhythm that doesn't involve me in the least. The wave caught me just right and I tumbled over forwards my face landing in the sand, and something not quite right with my back. Large amounts of water are not inherently dangerous, but once they're put in motion, they need to be watched closely.
10 years later, I was river rafting on a class-5 river (The Tuolomne river near Yosemite) and was - figuratively and later in the day literally - in WAY over my head. I took to heart the rafting guide's advice to not fall out of the raft at one particular spot along the river; a "rapid" named something like "Maytag" after the washing-machine action it emulated (or invented, if you think about it.) And that, my dear friends, is exactly where we fell in, plunged suddenly into 48-degree water and held there (again, for what seemed like 20 minutes but was probably closer to 7 seconds this time around) until the churning action of the water felt we'd had enough.
Once again, I¹d had a bad encounter with water. In this case, it was both the absence of air and the presence of cold that were threatening. I recall the rafting guide noting a subtle but important fact about the wetsuits we were wearing; if we were to fall in, the wetsuit “was not there to keep us comfortable, it was there to keep us alive.”
As you can imagine, the fact that scuba appealed at all is surprising, given these widely-spread, but clearly memorable, experiences. Maybe it was because I had been threatened by water twice that compelled me to "conquer" it and even thrive in despite my past. Whatever the reason, we are physiologically predisposed to NOT breathe underwater which is clearly demonstrated the first time you put your face in water and try to inhale. (Which is ironic given what we tend to do - inhale - when cold water is splashed on us.) It takes a bit of focus to coax your body into ignoring that instinct. For some, the thought of submerging even 20 feet underwater is too much. Whether that's instinct, fear, or just common sense can certainly be debated.
As for photography... well, that's a whole other obstacle.
by Daniel Brown
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The Adventures of a Newbie Housing Owner