When I was around 13 or so I was in the Boy Scouts and went to the big National Jamboree, which was held in the Washington D.C. area. I don’t remember a whole lot about that trip except for all the different activities they had for us to do and even then the only one that really sticks out in my mind is the scuba diving activity.
They had brought in this above-ground pool type structure and had an instructor there who would school you on the basics of scuba, strap a tank to your back, and let you fool around in the pool a bit. It wasn’t really what you would call “scuba diving” since the pool was only about 5 feet deep, but I can still remember the awe I felt as I trolled along the bottom of that pool for the next 15 minutes. It was an experience that has stayed with me ever since and I remember vowing to my 13-year old self that as soon as I was old enough I would get scuba certified.
Fast forward a few years to college. While getting registered for the upcoming semester, I found out that there was an option to get scuba certified and have it count towards one of my electives. I could get scuba certified AND college credit?
That was all I needed to know. I immediately enrolled in the class.
We did our in class training and then pool diving at the pool on campus. We were an odd bunch with our bulky scuba gear, exploring along the bottom of the pool while other students watched us and wondered who the weirdos in scuba gear were.
And speaking of weirdos, once I wanted to test out my new mask, snorkel, and fins so I went to the pool at my apartment (which was indoors since we were in Eastern Idaho and it is never warm there - ever). I thought it was a perfectly natural thing to snorkel in the indoor pool and saw no issue with it at all. My wife Kirsten, who was my girlfriend at the time, thought otherwise. She had come looking for me at my apartment and my roommates told her I had gone to the pool.
She assumed they meant I went to swim, not snorkel around like a geek by myself. I haven’t seen her laugh that hard before or since after finding me gliding smoothly along the water’s surface. My dignity was damaged a bit, but not enough to deter me.
Anyway, we all got certified in short order and I was a full-fledged scuba diver. I was in love and just knew diving would be a part of my life forever.
After Kirsten and I got married and settled down a bit we were too broke for me to do any diving at all and after a few years, began having babies, full-time jobs, a business, and no time. I also put on about 50lbs our first year of marriage and told myself that I was just too heavy to dive and that I would pick it back up after I lost weight.
The years went by and slowly but surely the idea of ever scuba diving again faded away. I would think about it occasionally and wish I could get back into it, but never did. I had all but given up on that dream.
UNTIL THIS WEEK! After losing nearly 70lbs this year I decided that once and for all I was going to get certified. I went over to my local dive shop and got all the information I would need, enrolled in class, and am currently taking the certification course again. Although the technology has improved over the last 20+ years since I was in it, the information is essentially the same. I’m having some serious nostalgia as I go through it all again and haven’t been this excited in a long while.
You know, I almost let that dream die completely. I wasted 20 years telling myself a story that just wasn’t true. I could have been diving all these years if I had really wanted to. I let my own perceived self-limitations and insecurities hold me back from living out a dream I’d had since I was 13 years old. What a waste.
But no more. I still have dreams and no longer will I let the stories in my head keep me from them. It’s time to live like I have never lived before.