This weekend I swallowed some pool water. Both through my nose and my mouth. It was for a good cause, though. I spent something like six hours in the pool over Saturday and Sunday, learning how to dive. I was never a water baby. I am one of the people who gets a strong and irrational need to head to the surface when water goes up my nose. So, diving scared me. But not recently. It's official: in January I'm going to Hawaii to finish the dive certification I started this weekend. I'll be diving for a week.
But first I have to learn how to take my mask off underwater. And how to take the oxygen-drip of the regulator out of my mouth. And how to breathe slowly and deeply through all this while wearing a weight belt and no flippers. I don't know why I feel claustrophobic under water. But I had to have some conversations with myself about this today. The day ended with practicing my favorite skill: finding the point of buoyancy. Once there is the right amount of air in your bladder-equipped diving backpack (called the BCD), you float in the water column. An inhale slowly lifts you a little higher. Emptying your lungs brings you back down. That was really fun.
I used to be incredibly hesitant to learn things that did not come easily to me. Why should I, since I had so many other things to chose from? My strength, now, is the new-found ability to struggle. I was not a natural and easy student. My instructor and I tried again and again. But this did not fill me with a burning sense of shame. This did not turn me away from diving. I have learned how to take all the difficulty in and to keep moving forward. And I'm proud of myself for this. This is a new kind of ability... it makes my horizons seem a bit more limitless. I am certainly less constrained than the old self, which knew only how to move through the smoothest channels.