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Jordan Heron - The Vanity Card Series

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As if I don't have enough hobbies already, I'm taking up a new one. Ok, I'm not really "taking up" a hobby. I'm dabbling, and quite superficially at that. Here's the story...

My partner, Stephanie, is a certified open water scuba diver. So is her brother. It's not like they indulge in this passtime a lot. In fact, I didn't know this about them until presented with an appropriate situation.

The appropriate situation was their parents deciding, some four years ago, that the most fun thing to do for Christmas was a Caribbean island cruise. I have nothing against the islands. But I had never been there before (not being much of a traveller at the time) and as a born and bred Canadian, it just didn't seem very "Christmas-sy". I mean, from what I had heard, there wasn't a lot of snow down there. There isn't Christmas without snow. Or at least, crappy weather. Not in Ontario.

Still, whatever my (minutely small) misgivings, "free cruise in the Caribbean" was appealling enough for me to say "SURE!" Preparations began...

Preparations included deciding what day trips we would indulge in when in the various ports, a different one every day. Horseback riding had to happen, of course, given that that is our "real" hobby. Then Stephanie said we should dive. I've never dived. Diven. Doved. Whatever... I had rarely engaged in water sports. The reason for this: I sink like a stone.

I hate swimming. It's an awful lot of hard work (keeping my head above water), the end result of which is doing more hard work (swimming). And the stepping stone to scuba is snorkelling. I hate snorkelling almost as much as swimming. I always manage to get water in the damn thing, and come up choking. Reluctantly, I agreed to the dive.

It was grand. It was absolutely eye-opening. Under the clear blue waters off St. Lucia, I was fascinated by everything I saw. And we really didn't see much, relatively speaking. I'm sure if you're really into diving, the sites would be absolutely wondrous.

The drawback: the divemaster never let go of my harness. Every time I reached for the bouyancy compensator, a piece of equipment I'd been introduced to 15 minutes previously, he would slap my hand. I was to look, not touch, and that included myself and what I was wearing. Despite the beauty of the undersea world, or perhaps because of it, I swore that I would never dive again, unless I got myself an open water scuba certification - so that I could touch myself with impunity.

Well - guess what? We're going again. It's another cruise in December. So - guess what? I'm panicking trying to get my PADI open water certification before then.

The problem is - I still don't swim well. This usually isn't a problem in diving. With careful use of equipment, you can attain neutral bouyancy - you can just kind of float "weightless" in the water, just like it's outer space. You need no effort to stay still, and little effort to move. But when you train, they train you for what might go wrong, as well as what is expected to go right. So - they want you to swim. Just in case you have to. I hate that part.

Stephanie, bless her heart, is helping me try. She is not only dive certified, she used to be a lifeguard. She floats like a cork. I hate her for that. One of the small handful of things I hate about her. Despite my crappy attitude as a student, she is helping. And I'm getting better. But I still hate it.

I am a project manager by trade. I balance risk every day. I look at plans and think "What might go wrong? What do we do about that?" Some risks you plan for, some you mitigate, some you just accept. This one, I want to just accept.

I want a dive certification that says:
"I can't swim, and I know it. I am diving with the aide of sophisticated equipment. If it fails, I will die. I'm ok with that."

And do you think I can find a certification like that?

No. We're supposed to keep everyone safe. Whatever happened to "survival of the fittest"? Whatever happened to repurcussions for stupidity? I miss the old days, of danger and random death.

07 October 2009

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