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 into 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.
We 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.
We 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.
I 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.