Final few shutter clicks as my camera flash floods the hotel room with light. I’ve just set up my camera gear and packed my day pack. I walk over the sandy path between the bungalows towards the restaurant for an early morning breakfast. As usual, the restaurant is buzzing with life at this time of day. I head over to the jetty, hop on a boat, and wait for the roll call. I’m ready for a day’s diving!
Ocean spray splashing away at our faces as we get our equipment ready, we arrive at our destination a few minutes later. A quick safety briefing, a buddy check, and we’re rolling backwards into the water. We start our descent and the silence begins. Well, not entirely….. We’ve replaced the sounds of the engine and chitter chatter on the surface with the sound of our breathing… inhale ….. exhale.…… There are also the sounds of millions of tiny firecrackers sounding off in the distance. I know these are the sounds I’ve been waiting to hear for the past weeks, or even months. The natural crackling of tiny sea creatures hidden among the magnificence of colour reflecting off the coral reef. The feeling of weightlessness that takes away every pain or strain from one’s joints. The feeling of complete bliss and being able to feel alive again.
The next hour or so your thoughts are free for you to do with as you please. Your focus goes to enjoying the freedom, but also following the simple rules that keep you safe. Keep an eye out on your buddy, monitor your air consumption, your no stop limits, and make sure to keep your fins, or any other part of you, off the reef. Watch a turtle graze on its morning fill of sea grass or soft coral. Observe an octopus change shape and colour instantaneously in front of your eyes. Swim through a school of tiny baitfish and watch them engulf you and stay just outside of your furthest reach.
“What does this have to do with my wellbeing?”
For a few days every few weeks or months I am able to get away, immerse myself in a world that has no limits, a place where my brain is free from the stresses of everyday life. While scuba diving you leave your worries behind on the surface, or if you do have something to mull over, you have the time and space to do so without distraction. It’s amazing how many times I’ve come out of the water with new ideas, inspiration, or a completely new approach to how I may handle things. It also fascinates me how sometimes at the end of a dive weekend, I realise I had not thought about anything work related at all!
For one, you are giving yourself time and opportunity to think things through. Once, underwater you’ve got the span of your air consumption or to the agreed upon dive time limit to stay immersed. Regularly in everyday life, we lack the self control to give ourselves that space for thought. The few minutes you have between tasks we are immersed in our devices chatting to our friends halfway across the globe or scrabbling to find time to watch those tv episodes you have long waited to binge again on. We regularly rob ourselves of mental space and peace of mind to be able to reflect.
Give Yourself a Chance
Scuba diving is just one example of how you can give yourself some mental breathing space. Find something you like, jog, paint, meditate, whatever it may be; give yourself some space to be able to reflect on life. It will help you bring things into perspective. It will help you see what is important to you.
I am writing this 47 days, 5 hours, and 44 minutes since the last time I came out of the water. I am really looking forward to refreshing my thoughts again in less than 16 days.
Keep diving and keep well.
Buddy Tolba | Prep Form Tutor and Science
For some great diving spots right here in Malaysia view some of the links below;
Photographs were taken on a Year 8 trip to Tioman Island, Malayisa in 2016.