There are several kinds of courage, including physical, emotional and moral. I wish to write about physical courage which, for me, also involves a lot of emotion. I have many thoughts about moral courage, especially related to politicians, but I won’t get started on that!
A few years ago, after watching me fuss and fiddle with my snorkeling equipment, my son Ben, a diver—among other things— suggested I might enjoy scuba diving because once you get the knack of it, it’s simpler. He arranged for me to take training to become a PADI-certified scuba diver. It was a very scary experience but I did it.
Thinking ahead to what it would be like—because I am afraid of water, or, more precisely, afraid of not being able to breathe—I thought about Ben’s drawing (above). He was five years old when he drew it, after the compulsory swimming lessons for kindergarteners in our island town of Alameda, California.
Last month, in Belize, I signed up for a couple of scuba dives. Just putting the mask over my face so that I couldn’t breathe through my nose started my heart racing. But Robbie, the patient and kind owner of Chuck and Robbie’s Dive Shop on Ambergris Caye, took me out to the reef, where if I panicked I could pretty much stand up and be out of the water. That was doable. Next came a more serious test: an “open water” (i.e., deeper water) dive and it was awful. I couldn’t muster the courage to sink down and got back in the boat, embarrassed but relieved. But Robbie, a natural-born teacher, didn’t give up on me. Two days later we sank about 10 feet and “stood” arm-to-arm and face-to-face for what seemed like an hour until I gave the signal that I was calm enough to continue. I loosened my death grip on the poor man’s arms and we headed down—what seemed way down—to the sea floor. There is something wonderful about facing up to your fears. You come to realize that it isn’t as hard as you imagined. All it takes is courage. And you feel fantastic once it’s over.
HAVE A COURAGEOUS WEEK!