Wednesday, August 25, 2010


The first time my head went under the waves, I felt a dim wave of panic: What if I drowned? What if my oxygen tank ran out? What if I couldn't breathe? You prepare and prepare but the one thing you can't ever be prepared for is fear itself.

In diving, when you first begin your descent, absolutely the first - and arguably most important thing to do - is to start the process of equalizing immediately. It's so that the pressure difference between your middle and outer ear will be equalized, i.e, your ears will go 'pop' and feel comfortable again.

The process of equalizing takes longer for some people, some others seem to be able to equalize in a flash, disappearing into the blue depths quickly and easily. Whatever it is, it's important not to rush it, if you can't equalize, you go back up a couple of feet and try again, descending slowly when you're comfortable again. There is no place for stubborn, gung-ho, 'I'm sure I'll be fine and my ears can take it' kind of attitude - that in fact, is probably precisely the sort of thing that gets divers' eardrums ruptured.

I haven't been blogging much because I don't adapt well to change - there have been so many of late- and some of it really got to me in the last couple of months. So rather than allowing the blue funk that had overtaken me overflow onto this page, I blogged other things - pictures, odd snapshots from the books I read, a verse or two of poetry, bible verses etc. There was stuff up here, but my heart hasn't been fully in it for awhile.

The trouble with being plunged into new circumstances in life is that, in life, unlike diving, no one expects you to have to equalize to adapt to the pressure of the new environment. Nope. No such thing. It's all mask on, fins on, regulator on and down you go into the blue depths. But there really isn't any reason why the equalizing principle shouldn't apply to real life as well. When you undergo major life changes, you have to adapt to the pressures of a new environment just like you have to adapt to the pressure on your eardrums (and the additional under water related dangers) when you dive.

It doesn't make sense that we're expected to adapt instantly and uniformly. Just as some people take a longer time to equalize, some people - like me, duh!- take a longer time to adjust to a new surroundings and new people.

The next time I go through any kind of a major life shift, I'm going to keep that equalizing principle in mind. No more gung-ho, grit your teeth and take the pain of the pressure attitude.

No, life is not that different from diving. The same survival principles apply: When you're uncomfortable, you should go back up a couple of feet and equalize, before descending slowly. Don't panic. Know that you're in an alien environment, the rules that applied on land
(or elsewhere) may not apply underwater. Keep breathing. Communicate - because in life, as in diving, when you're having problems, it's critical to signal your distress so that your buddy can help you. Staying quiet and suffering in silence is as bad an idea on land as it is underwater.

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