The opportunities are always out there, but how many of us reach out to them? I’m talking about things you’ve always dreamed of doing. It’s different for everyone, but for me the list includes a few things that I’ve been wanting to do since childhood. Here are my top four:
1. Scuba diving (ever since I saw my first Jacques Cousteau program).
2. Fying an airplane. I did get an opportunity to do that as a late teen, in a Cessna with dual controls. My cousin was getting her A&P license at the time, and her instructor took me up. It was great. I’d still like to get a pilot’s license and fly wherever I want to.
3. Owning a yacht and sailing around the world. (I’d really better get started on this one)
4. Publishing a book (or several).
I think the main thing that has been holding me back is my inability to see these things as not only possible, but as real. There is a sense that these dreams are extravagant, self-indulgent, and superfluous. The idea that life should be about doing “serious” things and “making money.” Also, I (as I assume is true for many others) look around for approval/permission from others. That is a big mistake. I’m not sure why I haven’t done these things yet, but, as the second half of my life begins, I figure I’d better get off the observation deck and into the water. Literally.
Yesterday I saw a movie on Netflix called “Maidentrip” about a 14-year-old girl from the Netherlands named Laura Dekker who literally sailed around the world by herself, in a 40-foot ketch named Guppy. It was inspiring, to say the least. Once she decided to undertake the voyage, Dutch child welfare services tried to stop her, and she had to go through harrowing legal battles before getting clearance. She finally won and achieved her ambition, documenting the voyage on video.
I’ve signed up for a scuba diving certification class! It starts in about three weeks. I’m excited about it, and also a little apprehensive. I’m not apprehensive about the diving part, or being underwater, or any of that. I’m concerned about passing the prerequisite, which includes swimming 3/4 of the length of the pool underwater on one breath. I can swim the whole length underwater with fins on. But I’m pretty sure it will be fins off for the test. The other two qualifying tests are to surface swim 5 lengths of the pool (piece of cake) and tread water for 10 minutes (could do it in my sleep). But why is it so hard to swim underwater? I have been practicing. So far, all I can do is a little over half a length. The harder I try, the harder it is. Today, I talked with some fellow swimmers, who gave me pointers. Look down, not up. Keep your body horizontal. Stay relaxed. Find the “zone” in which you continuously glide forward with minimal effort from your limbs. It’s tricky, because you have to stay rigid enough to keep the forward momentum, but relaxed enough to conserve energy and oxygen. One of my fellow swimmers even demonstrated for me. He made it look effortless.
Finally, they suggested I look on YouTube for instructional videos on free diving. I’m about to check into those. I know that most of getting past this is psychological, and that persistence will eventually pay off. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Wish me luck!!