Thursday, July 2, 2015

SCUBA Diving At Night: A Comparison To Human Behavior

As you may have noticed from my last post, I just got back from a SCUBA vacation.  And while on that trip Carissa and I completed several PADI Specialty Diver classes though our local shop (SeaVentures).  One of the ones that I did (and Carissa already had) was the Night Diver Specialty.  During the class you always get asked "so why do you want to complete the X specialty".  My answer was "to get more comfortable diving at night, and be able to appreciate the creatures that come out on the reefs after the Sun goes down".  I finished the specialty, got some good experience, and had fun doing it.  I wasn't prepared for what came next.

If you ever played sports as a kid you'll remember every one of your coaches and parents probably at some point saying "[Insert sport here] prepares you for life and teaches you valuable skills".  I'm not ashamed to admit I fail at sports.  I just didn't get those genes.  I got those skills elsewhere growing up.  But I do know and appreciate that sports teach teamwork, risk management, situation analysis, communication, responsibility...the list goes on and on.  I bring this up because SCUBA is a sport, and it has many of its own lessons to teach people.

The lesson that night diving taught me wasn't as simple as "learning to play as a team".  While I was driving to the airport a few days ago on the ugly side of dawn I noticed something that completely blew my mind and decided I wanted to share with anyone who would listen and appreciate it.

On night dives (usually done as or after the sun is going down), you see all the night creatures coming out doing their thing.  I had the awesome privilege of my final dive of the specialty to be a dawn dive.  This meant that we were getting in the water just before the sun came up, went exploring, then stayed in the water to watch the water turn from pitch black to deep blue.   The other thing that happens is the life in the water changes: night dwelling creatures return to their dark corners to go to sleep, and the day dwelling creatures start to come out.  We as humans do the exact same thing.

Driving to the airport at 4am-ish you see people leaving bars, and gas stations opening.  People coming out of their homes and going to breakfast and work.  People who were on the night shift pass those folks on the road and head back to their homes to sleep.

I've driven to work early many times, and come home late many times.  My thoughts on those highly annoying drives are typically like "man, people who do this are crazy", "commuting at this hour is for drug dealers, serial killers, and insane people", and so on.  After doing the dawn dive my mind went somewhere completely different: all life on Earth shares some common life behaviors.

Fish and humans have shifts they work, shifts they rest, and times to play.  Thinking beyond SCUBA diving for a moment, there are probably very few (if any) forms of life that do not share at least some attributes with other, different forms of life.  I think it's very zen-like after this hit me and thinking more about my dawn dive.  Some fish are waking up and eating breakfast, others were up all night and are settling down to rest for the day.  Just like humans do.

So for fellow divers, next time you're in the water I encourage you to slow down and think about how much all life has in common.  Hover (take that PPB class!!!) and just watch the life in front of you foraging for food, defending it's territory, playing with others, and mating to keep their species alive.  Then realize you do the same things.  Maybe it will make you appreciate ocean life more, maybe it will make you appreciate your own life more.  But maybe, just maybe, you'll combine both those thoughts and take it to the next level...realizing how insignificant but important all life really is, how valuable life is, how connected we all are, and will drive you to want to help not only yourself and your friends/family, but complete strangers as well as all life on this pale blue dot.  It's not religious or some type of following.  It's more basic and primal then that.  It's recognizing our place in the universe and this complex system that we live in, and learning our part to sustain it and help it thrive.


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