Does It Count if You Try? Missing a Bucket List Item

Bucket list item number 14: Try Snuba – Snuba is a form of diving that is a mix between snorkeling and scuba diving. A diving regulator is used but instead of air coming from tanks strapped to the diver’s back, it comes through a long hose from tanks on pontoon rafts on the surface.

Every year, I create a bucket list of activities that I’d like to experience. I put a lot of thought Snuba, Arubainto which items should make the list and if it’s humanly possible to accomplish every item in one year. Readers, friends, and family often think that I’m completely unrealistic about my goals, but I believe the more unrealistic I am with my dreams and goals the more I’m able to achieve.  This year’s list included 50 items and I’m more than half way through. I was truly starting to believe that I’d successfully complete every item on the list; I didn’t consider the fact that I could chicken out of an activity but today it happened. I’m in one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited in my life, I’ve crossed two items off of the list since arriving two days ago, and I’m starting to think Aruba is my new favorite country, but during our adventure today I felt totally defeated and one bucket list item is not going to see the check mark of success this year.

Snuba, ArubaWe had two options on our catamaran excursion today; we could either snorkel or Snuba. Obviously, I wanted to Sunba since it was on my list this year. It was the event that I was most excited about for the entire trip. I wanted to do it. I couldn’t wait to get into the water and explore it from a whole new perspective.

When it was my turn to join four others, and the instructor, under the waves in the calm blue ocean of Aruba, I listened closely to the Snuba instructions. I tried to stay calm as I put on my fins, a diving mask, and weights. I felt “normal” and I honestly thought I could do it. I held on to the pontoon raft, put the regulator in my mouth, took a struggled breath, and put my head under the water.

I felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen and I was doing something wrong. I popped my head out of the water and I could feel the fear creeping over me. Just calm down. You want to do this. It’s going to be amazing. Children do it all the time. You can do it. 

I took another breath without the regulator then I put it back in my mouth. I tried breathing with my head above the water; it felt the same. I don’t think I can do this. 

The instructor looked at me and said, “Look at me. You’re okay. You can do this. Watch me and follow my lead.” He put the regulator in his mouth. I could see his unlabored breath. He was totally calm and unnerved. I tried to shut off my brain and mirror his movements.

Snuba, Aruba

Snuba, ArubaWe went under water and I could still see him perfectly clear. I looked down and the sea of fish below me was spectacular. There were hundreds of fish swimming below us and I wanted to get a closer look. I let go of the pontoon, allowing the weights to pull me a little bit closer; I was mindlessly sinking into the world of life below me. I didn’t take a breath though and when I did, I was brought back to the scary reality of struggling to breathe. The panic was paralyzing and it took control.

I can’t do it. I want to go back to the boat. 

The guide must have seen “the look” on my face and he took off my gear and asked if I could swim toward the boat on my own. That was it. It was over for me.

As I swam back to the boat, I wanted to cry. I wanted to be in a room alone so I could cry. I was defeated. My worse fear, even more than not being able to breathe under water, is the fear of failure; the fear of not accomplishing something important to me. Doing this was important to me. I love the ocean. It’s a huge part of my life and it’s something that shaped me as a person so why couldn’t I just figure it out? Why was it so easy for everyone else?

I could never understand people that said they were too scared to do something. I assumed that it was a weak comment and that I would always overcome my irrational fears, yet I sit here without having the Snuba experience after being blessed with the opportunity to try it today.

Snuba,-ArubaI came back to my room, had a nap, and woke up with a different perspective. I think there’s a reason I put the word “try” in “try Snuba” on my list. I may not have successfully enjoyed the Snuba experience today, but I tried and I will try and try again until I actually do it. Then, I will try and try again until I get scuba certified. I am not defeated; I’m just getting started.

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102 thoughts on “Does It Count if You Try? Missing a Bucket List Item

  1. It becomes a lot harder to breathe through a hose or other tube the deeper you go. I tried to do this with a PVC pipe one time (probably a completely different apparatus), and as I got lower it got really hard to breathe. Definitely want to try SNUBA again one day with real equipment. Nice post!

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    • I’m sure you’ll love it, especially if you try it in Aruba. The fish are so plentiful and beautiful; it’s a beautiful world down there. Hopefully I’ll get to actually experience SNUBA the next time I try. 🙂

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  2. I have no doubts that it will happen…someday. You will cross this off your list I know. And as a non swimmer, I went snorkeling because I just had to experience the underwater view. It was a little different, because I was holding onto a float that a cute little Mexican boy (man) was holding for me. I was never comfortable, but at least I can say I did it.

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  3. Congratulations on trying Snuba. And you are correct you said that you wanted to “Try Snuba” and you did. Do not worry about not liking it. Its not for everyone and you know you will get another chance to do it again. This brings me back to when I was in Vanuatu a few years back. I had always wanted to try Scuba, then i noticed a “Free Scuba Lesson” sign at our resort. So i said stuff it, it’s free ill give it a shot. Long story short, i went under for the first time and panicked and it was only in a pool. By the end of the hour i was scubaing in the pool no worrys. The next day i paid for a lesson on a boat. IWhen i put my head uner the water i panicked again. But i convinced myself i was fine in the pook so i will be fine in the ocean. I managed to go down to 12mtrs and just absolutly loved every second of it. So much so that i came back fro another lesson the next day. So . Juts do not give up and give it another shot. It is an amazing world dowen there. Good luck.

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    • I think it’s something I’ll really enjoy when I get the hang of it. I’ll try again the next opportunity I have and I’ll keep trying until I get the hang of it. I have lots of time 😉

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  4. I totally understand you! Ocean is a very important part of my life too, but the first time I wanted to do some snorkelling in the ocean, not in a bay, I was defeated by my fears. As I was trying to go back on shore, the waves were so strong, I thought I could’t do it. I was so shaken, it was horrible. A few days later, we went to a bay and, guess what, I did it and more importantly, I had a really good time! Like you say, what’s important is to try, and try again, and again. Best of luck in accomplishing this goal!

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  5. The only thing that ever made me turn back was spelunking… it sent my brain places I never want to go again – we all have one thing that gets us – even extreme sports junkies and test pilots! As long as you tried, and having the spirit to keep at ‘er is more than most can attest to!

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    • Spelunking can be a difficult one, but everyone is different. What scares me might not scare you and vice versa. There is no harm in admitting your fears.

      What’s your favorite extreme adventure?

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    • Thanks Deborah! I truly appreciate the encouragement. Blogging has provided me with so much support and constant encouragement that I’ve become braver and happier by being part of the community.

      I hope you had a great weekend.

      May the world be at your doorstep,

      Lesley

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  6. I absolutely believe accomplishments are greater when you have to work harder for them. If you want to do this, you will, and then you will rock it!

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  7. Hey, of course it counts!

    Did you think that with such an impressive ambition as a bucket list every year you would not come across the odd thing that scared you, or beat you? I would not be impressed with your bucket list if you filled it with stuff that was easy.

    Finding things that scare you is normal. Hell, I’ve come across things that scared me. The first time I had to jump from a helicopter without a parachute for example. The open ocean used to bother me too, and it took me two tries to get my initial PADI certificate all those years ago. It made it all the better when I did achieve it! Being brave isn’t about the absence of fear, but overcoming it. The greater the fear, the greater the achievement.

    I think there is no such thing as failure as long as we TRY. And you did! The only failure is by not trying in the first place.

    So you didn’t manage it this time, so what? We all stumble from time to time on the road to greatness, the secret is picking ourselves back up, dusting ourselves off and trying again. And again, and again if necessary. You think Edmund Hilary reached Everest’s summit the first time? Sir Ranulph Fiennes hasn’t had success in every goal he set out to achieve and he is still one of the worlds greatest living explorers! But they achieved greatness by striving to do something great. Success is relative when the achievement is so impressive. They tried, and so did you. Failure isn’t the end, it’s just part of the road toward achieving your goals, the harder it is the more impressive the achievement. If things were easy, everyone would be doing them, right? But they are not, you are. You are out there, living your dream and fulfilling your ambitions. 99% of people aren’t. Don’t compare yourself to those who sit at home saying they are too scared and don’t even try! So even if you fail once, twice, a thousand times, you are still achieving far more than them, you are still on that road to success it just may be a little longer than you initially thought it would be.

    So keep your chin up, keep your heart strong and keep going! When you do achieve success – and you will – you will feel invincible, on top of the world, like there was a stone wall in front of you and you just kicked right through it and won! And no matter where you are in the world, or what godforsaken jungle or desert I find myself in, I will raise a glass to you, because you tried, and stumbled, and then achieved!

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    • Thank you! I feel more ambitious just reading your response. You’ve accomplished some great feats in your life; you should totally be proud.

      You’ve totally peeked my interest. I’m following your blog and will check back regularly.

      Have a great day; may the world be at your doorstep,

      Lesley

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  8. I’d say it counts for trying.

    I’d never heard of Snuba before reading about it on your blog. It makes sense what some other commenters said that the breathing becomes harder deeper down. So what advantage does it have over using scuba equipment instead?

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  9. Oh Lesley I think you’re missing the gift here. I have no doubt you will eventually do it, but in the meantime you said it: you could never understand people who were too afraid to do something – you thought it was weak. And now you don’t. I live a pretty Bohemian life at 62, always moving around, and it wasn’t until I had a bout of illness which made me feel helpless did I understand people who said I was so “brave” to not need “security”. I think being given insights into other people’s fears is a valuable Bucket List experience, too!

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  10. This sounds SO much like my Scuba lessons. When I took the PADI Open Water, just the first pool lesson had me panic. I’m actually – okay I WAS terrifed – of the ocean. My hubby is a fish. West meets East coast, but the instructor (from Australia) was fantastic. I still have panics sometimes and hubby has to work eye contact with me to get me started. Your experience is STILL a bucket list, you DID try. Many people go through life never trying for FEAR of experiencing a fear. 😀 I’m excited for you. And thank you so much for sharing, all flowers and happiness experiences are wonderful but hearing that it is okay to feel fear even if you are “Super” bucket list woman 😉 gives us fledgling bucket list ladies hope.

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  11. I totally agree that trying is what it’s all about and discovering your own humanity is a lesson of real value. Being frightened isn’t a bad thing; letting fear rule your life is where it becomes problematic. I love your spirit and your enthusiasm. And trying but not being able to do something is better than not trying at all. Keep flying brave girl! Your make me smile!

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  12. I say it totally counts. You go right ahead and cross that item out. I am totally convinced that the journey matters more than the destination. What would have you learnt about yourself and about others if not for the experience itself?

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  13. I’d say you achieved your goal – you tried it.
    Fear can be a driver or a paralyser. I’ve taken grown men on their first rappels/abseils, and have seen them literally wet themselves on the way down – but they did it. In the end conquering fear is one of the reasons people go on guided adventures.
    This time you got the bad side of it. All adventurers get it some time. Don’t give up though, because then the fear wins. Maybe go with a different guide next time. Good luck!

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  14. Sorry to hear you were not able to check this item off your list this time, but like you said you did “try”; a lot of people would not have attempted. Now that you have someone who is depending on you, this may be entering your subconscious, I know it plays a part in my everyday decisions.

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  15. You did try…it just wasn’t for you. I’ve felt that way before, it is your self defense mechanism kicking in. And having never “snuba’d” I don’t think I would like it…I’d much rather SCUBA.

    I have done at least 5 “discovery dive” scuba lessons and it is the most memorable thing I have ever done. Not as young or adventurous as you.

    Let me tell you a story…my first husband was PADI certified…back in 1970’s in Okinawa ….after we got married and moved around with the Air Force he never went diving again. In 2002 he had a kidney removed due to cancer. I decided to NEVER wait to do anything again. We went on a cruise to the Western Carribean in 2003, and I signed us up for a Discovery Dive in Cozumel.

    I will NEVER forget when the instructor let go of my hand, and joined my husband’s hand in mine. We swam and explored the reef together for a long time before we had to surface. It was our ONLY opportunity, because he died less than a year later. But the love of scuba did not die with him, I continued on taking the opportunity when ever I took a trip somewhere it was offered. Go hug your husband and daughter, and go DIVE together. 🙂

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  16. Great piece, great photos. I say you should cross SNUBA off you bucket list with PRIDE!! You wrote “try snub.” You “tried snub.” you did it. The fact that you made every attempt should count double. And you were smart to discontinue snuba if you were not up for it. Another opportunity will present itself, meanwhile move on to your next adventure. I can’t wait to read about it. xo LMA

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  17. I had a similar experience when I was in Cuba and know exactly how you felt. Your blog described everything I felt too. I had scuba diving on my bucket list so while we were in Cuba we decided to try it. I was okay doing the shore stuff where you walk out and try scuba diving where if I felt uncomfortable I could still stand up. But the two main parts of the lesson: emptying water from your goggles and switching octopuses, I was unable to do. Even still they took us out to the middle of the ocean, put weights on me and i fell backwards off the boat into the dark ocean. I pannicked, I tried and tried to do it but in the end I couldn’t. I was so upset because my bf was able to do it and I wanted to do it so bad. I went back to our room after and cried myself to sleep because I was so disappointed in myself. But I talked to a lot of other people and they made me feel a lot better about it. The way I think of it is what if I put a pair of skis on my instructor, took him to the top of whistler and said “go down”. Thats now what you do. There is a reason people get certified for scuba diving and the experience inspired me to take the course. I havent yet, but I will some day. I still think you should scratch snuba off your list because you are right, you tried! And you will be able to do it someday! Kudos to you for trying.

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  18. Bucket Lists should be fun things… achievable things. Even if you do not accomplish this item, you gave it a try. But I can tell by your past accomplishments, you will do this when it is right for you. 😀

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  19. You did try it and that is what counts. Also, your body is different after having a child. Your lungs do crazy things. Understanding your body’s limits is important, and in my mind you did what you set out to do…you tried. Some enthusiast would have kept on going (ignoring their bodies signals) and perhaps had a medical emergency. You were smart!

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    • I’ve sadly never had children, but I do agree with all you’ve said about trying. Sometimes (often) the valor is in the effort. I ADORE water. In fact, should I move away from this area where I’m on the southern shore of one of the Great Lakes and can very often see it anywhere from < 5 miles away to 7 miles away depending on what portion of the hill I'm on, I absolutely *MUST* move near a large body of water. As much as I love it, I can't manage to swim. I have tried and tried. I'm even tamed my fear of being face down in the water. My problem is one of mechanics. I have a birth defect that made my legs significantly different in length. Trying to use them to swim is futile. Nevertheless, I can float on my back and backstroke. I have no idea why I can't float facing down and propel myself with my arms, but I can't and it's frustrating. Still, I'm keeping eyes and ears open for an adaptive swimming class because I want to be in the water.

      I, too, would love to SCUBA. However, even if I manage to learn to swim, the thought of having my life hang on me remembering to breathe through my mouth as opposed to my nose scares me. The thought of getting the bends scares me. The thought of swimming too far down without enough air to get back up scares me too. Yet, once I get the whole swimming thing together, I will find a way to take SCUBA lessons and try to get certified. It is the effort that builds character.

      One more thing before I pop out.

      I am a fan of anime. I don't like all anime, but even the mind-numbingly bad stuff sheds a bit of light on Japanese culture. I've noticed that certain themes are repeated over and over in different sub-genres of anime so I have to conclude that Japanese society values certain goals. Specifically: 1) doing one's absolute best at a given task whether the person succeeds or not; 2) becoming physically and/or mentally strong; 3) protecting one's family, friends and those considered weaker and less able to defend themselves.

      I don't know about the third, but I'd definitely say you would be greatly admired in Japan for your strength of will and character. From everything I've read, you are an amazing person. Note that I did not limit the cohort to simply women because, frankly, that goes without saying. You are becoming a world-class adventurer and we get to live vicariously through you. That's really cool!! Thank you.

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  20. for what it´s worth, you are not alone.
    I had the exact same experience with scuba diving. I thought that it was going to be easy, everybody does it, children, young people, old people, people who don´t know how to swim, etc. I breathed normally and enjoyed the seconds I was under water but then, in my head, I could not breath. I felt totally defeated and wanted to cry like a baby. Then I came back home and two years later I enrolled in a scuba diving course. I failed again, the suit pressed me, even if I was in a swimming pool, nothing could go wrong, it was not about the ocean or the fear of drowning, it was the feeling of not being able to breath again, silly because I could breath. But in my head I couldn´t. So I gave me time and said “when the moment is right, I´ll know and then it will be the time”. I´m thinking of trying next year again. In the meantime I go to the pool and swim and try to overcome the fear of not being able to breath. One funny theory (one of my friends) is that I was born with the cord strangling me, I struggled to breath putting my hand between my neck and the cord and that´s the way I was born, almost dying for the lack of oxygen. I don´t know, all I know is that I´ll try again!!!

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  21. SO glad you changed your attitude about it. Not succeeding does not mean failure. It often takes us many times to fulfill a goal…remember it’s usually more about the journey than the destination. You can do this!

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  22. I’m glad that you’re not feeling so disheartened anymore. You definitely didn’t fail at anything because at least you gave it a go…and I’m sure you will again!:)

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  23. Some people I know have become claustrophobic wearing masks and a simple snorkel, It can be like that sometimes and trying to be calm sometimes just doesn’t work. Maybe next time.

    Jim

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  24. I think several people said the same thing, trying absolutely counts. Won’t go into my scary/funny story about scuba diving, but after a few lessons I decided it wasn’t for me… always wanted to try it but now it is scratched off my bucket list and I’ll never put it back on…. you can’t know if you will like something until you have tried it. A bucket list should be about doing things you enjoy, not forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, just because you put it on a list..

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  25. First of all, well done for trying something new. You don’t have to like everything you try. Some things are not for everyone.
    As a SCUBA diver, (I never heard of Snuba before!), there is no difference breathing with your regs above or below water no matter how deep you go.. If that is the case with Snuba, then something is wrong. You may have had a malfunction with the mouthpiece. There is a little valve regulator on it that may not have been giving you enough air.
    I learned how to SCUBA dive to conquer a fear of swimming under water with stuff on my face. I was ok with it. I tried it in a pool first. It took me a long while to get really comfortable with diving. I am not a great snorkeler. So, since you tried Snuba, what is to stop you from doing SCUBA? PADI offer Discover Scuba Diving courses (1 day). I can guarantee that if you like SCUBA diving, you will never go back to anything else. 😉 Oh, you can try it in a pool first too!

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  26. The first time I tried scuba diving I couldn’t get my head round the whole idea of being able to breathe underwater and I struggled with the regulator too. Once I got used to the breathing, I had to come back up to the surface because I couldn’t equalise. It turns out that I have sinitus. The doctor was shocked that I’d even tried diving, but at least like you I can say I did try 🙂

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  27. I admire your perseverance, but have you thought about all of the other things you could be doing instead of trying and trying to do just one? You could just accept that it’s not for you and focus on all the other things you can accomplish – far more than most people will ever dream of!! Just a suggestion from an older human being who is learning to recognize and accept both her strengths and weaknesses!!!

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  28. The fear of failure is a fantasic thing. without it, a Challenge would not be a Challenge! it would just be something we do! Anyone can cross of a TO DO LIST. But it takes a special strength to write and cross off a BUCKET LIST. Keep going and stay strong!!!!

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  29. I got certified in Turkey about 7 years ago, and there were certainly panicky moments during the process. A few years later I was in Kauai, and wanted to dive. Now, my wife doesn’t dive, so I was on my own. I called up a dive company, and the woman described the dive they were doing the next day. “Are you comfortable with strong currents and large sharks?” she asked. I told her that didn’t sound like my dive. I found another outfit more suited to by abilities and comfort level, but as a drove down to the marina I had to pull over twice to throw up. Nerves.
    Once there, I pulled the dive master aside and told him that although I was certified, it had been a few years since I’d dived and I had basically no experience besides the course. He said, “Okay, what’s the most important thing to remember?” I was stumped. “Breathe,” he said. “Just breathe.”
    It was a marvelous day, diving with octopus and sea turtles and white-tip sharks and a whole lot else. You’ll do it. Just breathe.

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  30. I’m a certified diver, and I stress out about breathing when I get back in the water after significant time away. Breathing through a regulator takes some getting used to…I also find the quality of the equipment also makes a big difference.

    I agree with Arlene above, if you really want to try again, it might be better to try an intro dive lesson where you spend time practicing in the pool – then you can just stand up if you don’t feel comfortable.

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  31. It’s OK – I had the same thing happen in Australia. There we were at the Great Barrier Reef about to go underwater, and I couldn’t do it. I waved goodbye to my husband as he headed off with the others, and I felt ready to cry too. But then I looked through the underwater observatory at the giant potato cod and forgot all about it. It is all about enjoying the place and the moment, not the actual activity, that counts.

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