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Italian Immersion Day

June 6, 2011

<pop, shhh, tick> With that deep breath, I tumble backwards off the side of the boat:  somersault ~ dark green ~ cold gushes in ~ light green ~ sky.  I feel good.  It’s been eight years since my scuba gear and I have spent any quality time together.

Cleaning the Seabed

But today is not a pleasure dive, far from it.  It is the day for cleaning the bottom of the marina.  The scuba club which started our underwater hockey team here is participating with about fifty other divers to collect garbage from the harbor floor.  It seemed like a fair idea to join in.  We’d do a good deed for our town, have a little bonding with teammates, see and be seen in the local diving community.  It would get us back in the water after way too long.

Waaay too long: I was not entirely confident setting up my gear, nor entirely comfortable in my ancient wetsuit.  Craig’s BC (buoyancy compensator) was not entirely… entire after a while.  Old divers, old gear; all falling apart.

Tropical diving is my experience; that’s my bag, baby.  Give me top to bottom vis and nothing but a bikini under that BC.  This morning, stuffed into the stiff old wetsuit, I sank toward the bottom… which I could not see until I was all but embedded in it.  Four divers to one collection basket left us cruising very close together simply not to lose sight of one another.  A little claustrophobic, as I’m also accustomed to diving with SOBs.  What? No!  Same Ocean Buddies, not that I recommend this practice.  So my comfort level was steadily decreasing, snooping around beneath a marina full of anchored boats, chains covered in mussels and mysterious goo.  When the thick silt began stirring up into the water column, I was done for.

There are times and places for pushing outside one’s comfort zone.  This wasn’t it.  But I tried.  We participated.  And isn’t that the point of life, to be a participant rather than a spectator?

Professional sports, “reality” TV, 1500 cable channels ~ what time is wasted watching other people’s lives?  How much do we do and how much do we watch?  I suppose this morning, streaming off a satellite somewhere, there was a program about divers in the Coral Sea, infinitely more beautiful than this little pocket of the Mediterranean.  But it’s just pictures and when it’s over, nothing has changed.  This morning showed me my own fear as well as my own competence.  It was time shared with friends, exchanging English and Italian and bits of ourselves.  There is a small mountain of refuse on its way to a better place that wasn’t there before.

So, the next time you find yourself on the sidelines, being the spectator, watching someone else’s life unfold, consider what you might do for yourself, to enrich your own experience.  It’s your life; are you living it?

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