I have grown up near the ocean my entire life and I have learned much about the strong currents, rough surf, and powerful nature of a storm at sea. As a long-time diver, I have recently begun to notice that the nature of the sea is much like the nature of the land. Life above the waves is very similar to the depths below, and there are many parallels with what is simple and beautiful and what is difficult and scary. A tranquil sea can turn rough, choppy, and dangerous within minutes – you could be driving along content in your car, listening to your favorite
music, when your tire blows sending you into a spin and a maelstrom of danger. In life, as with the sea, you never know when the good or bad will hit. I have come up with five principles I learned at sea that mirror the lessons I live by on land. Much can be learned if your diving mask is rubbed clean and your outlook on life is as open minded as the open sea.
- Be Mindful of “No Wake Zone
Boating at sea, you often come across “No Wake Zone” signs, especially when traveling through narrow channels and close to shore. A wake can hurt both marine life and people. It could bump someone out of his boat or when it hits the shore, it could send a series of small tidal waves. It could also cause someone to fall down the companionway stairs or erode the shoreline. In the southern U.S., such as Florida, they are put up to protect slow moving marine life and are a sign of man’s attempt to respect the delicate nature of the sea that brings such pleasure. Ask a professional boater and they will tell you the key to following a “No Wake Zone” sign is to slow down all the way, not just slightly.
In life we need to slow down and smell the roses. Many times people get into fights or “wakes” because of a lack of communication or a misunderstanding. I have learned to slow down and reflect before I react quickly because I usually want to plow forward with my own fury (like ignoring a “No Wake Zone” warning). But with associates, friends, and even loved ones, conflict is almost always
inevitable. It is important to listen to what others are saying, try to understand their point of view, and validate their feelings. The “No Wake Zone” signs are put up for good reasons by government officials. The signs are there to protect others or the beautiful creatures below the water. Protect others, and yourself, by creating less wakes in life. Take it easy before lashing out. Walk away and blow off some steam before sharing your thoughts and feelings. It is easier and better to create tranquility in your life and on the sea.
- If a Sign Says “Beware of Rip Currents or Sharks” They Probably Aren’t
Making It Up
Signs warning of rip currents should make your eyebrows raise and send you in the other direction. Rip currents are currents of water flowing away from shore. They mostly begin from the shoreline and head through the surf zone just past the
line of breaking waves. It is sometimes confused with undertow, but rip currents do not pull you under – they can, however, pull you out. And if you are pulled out then there is an even greater risk of sharks. If there are warning signs for sharks, take heed and dive in another location. Some might remember 2003’s Open Water movie about a scuba diving couple who becomes abandoned by their team and stranded in the open ocean. Slowly they are attacked by sharks until the man dies and the woman chooses to take her own life rather than be eaten. The movie is an extreme look at how sharks can overpower a diver. It is recommended that if a
shark approaches, strike it with something hard like a camera or fist. Aim for the shark’s eyes or gills which are most sensitive to pain. It is advised to hit the shark repeatedly as they will likely retreat to find easier prey.
In our lives we encounter predators frequently, some as aggressive as a hungry tiger shark. Just think about telemarketers and solicitors who call you on your phone or even text you. Some of these people are trying to take advantage of you, possibly trying to talk
you into a new credit card with a high interest rate in small print. We might want to hit a solicitor outside a grocery store right in the eye like we would a shark, but it doesn’t work that way in the real world. On land we face warning signs everyday like the one for
rip currents. “Sharp curve in road,” “icy bridge,” and “slow down – children at play” are some examples. Just as we need to listen and watch carefully as divers, we need to beware of warnings in the outside world.
- The Shells Are Great After a Storm
Turbulent seas can bring magnificent delights onto the seashore. Storms can stir up the most wondrous, unique shells and sea glass onto the shoreline. When traveling, and as a nice break from diving, shell collecting can be fulfilling and offers many a
souvenir. Whether you search for clam shells, conchs, or even almond-shaped cowries, shell hunting is a laid-back, enjoyable experience. The ocean is certainly a powerful force and after a storm the fact that it leaves beautiful presents along its shoreline is a strong reminder of the beauty it offers within its depths.
Finding the best shells after a storm seems to be a metaphor for the beauty we sometimes see on land after Mother Nature has unleashed her fury. After a rain storm, she might lend us a rainbow if she allows a bit of sunshine to peak through. Tornadoes are certainly the scariest of land storms. They can be massive, dark, and unpredictable spirals of doom. Yet when the skies clear, some people say they have never seen such blue skies. In some parts of the world, ice storms are dangerous to be sure, but have an innate beauty nobody can argue with. Snow storms, as well, probably have the most beauty to offer in return, as trees hang with beautiful glistening snow and the ground is blanketed in a white luster.
- Swimming Upstream Can Be Tough, So Be Prepared.
Often times, fighting the currents is a necessity in order to explore the glories of the ocean. You might be kicking as hard as you can, but that anchor line doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. A feeling of exhaustion can set in pretty quickly. Unfortunately,
swimming upstream takes a lot of effort and some divers use too much oxygen to swim only a short distance in this case. The worst thing to do is panic if that oxygen gauge starts to descend. It is a challenge and it takes strength and level-headedness to make
it to your destination. Mental and physical preparation are necessities. The fact is, people have defied nature by plunging
to far depths beneath the sea. The ocean can trick your mind and sensations in your body. So listen and follow the words of your diving instructors or guides. They have vast experience in the undersea world and can help you swim upstream when the time comes.
For me, swimming upstream in life means being true to yourself and maybe even going against the grain, if needed. Just as swimming upstream takes strength, perseverance, and bravery, so does going for that promotion or asking out that attractive woman at
the bar. You need to not shy away from the hard things in life. It takes guts to be true to yourself and take risks now and again. It might also make you feel like you’re running out of oxygen telling someone how you truly feel, but the rewards can be priceless. Many divers are adventurers like me and out in the open water, you need to use ingenuity and be brave when swimming upstream – just like you do when following your heart and your gut.
- When Diving, Don’t Swim Back to the Surface Too Quickly
One of the worst things a diver can experience are “the bends” which is what happens when you return up to the surface too quickly. This can cause your body to act like a shaken can of soda being opened up. With all the nitrogen absorbed into your body
during a dive, the gas can make you feel like your blood is boiling and it can be deadly. Sometimes a diver will head quickly for the surface if he becomes spooked by something and panics. However, they must stop and take what are called decompression stops so the gas can dissipate.
In life above the water, most of us feel safe, healthy and happy. But sometimes we are called away from this haven where sometimes harsh realities greet us. Many people face tragedy in their life: a loss of a loved one to cancer, or a miscarriage, or a fatal accident.
There is a time for mourning, but then there is a time to return to the surface. We cannot rush the healing process just as we cannot rush returning to the top. It is worth it to take care of ourselves along the way so that we are as strong as when we left.
Jacob Mojiwat is passionate about sharing the wonders of scuba diving with others. He is the owner of AsiaDivingVacation.com. His dive company takes divers diving in Sipadan Malaysia as well at other Asia dive destinations.
Photo credit: Dissuadedotorg