Oceans of Opportunity

back to black(water)

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiBack at it – last winter/spring I partook in what was the single longest stretch of commercial diving that I had experienced. The project ran nearly daily for almost 6 months, requiring upwards of 30 hours of underwater time per week. Aside from the sheer exhaustion, I faced a number of other quasi-health problems which took me several months to fully recover. To some extent, I feel as though I had adapted to this aquatic way of life, with the physical and physiological consequences faced only after returning to terra firma.

Well, tis the season again – with several big projects on the schedule for this coming winter and spring, and while I’ve been diving consistently right along, this week marked the start of another week of cold, isolated darkness.

Sound like fun?

Most folks that I share my subaquatic sojourns with envision a life like Lloyd Bridges or Jacques Cousteau. I hate to rain on this picturesque vision of the life aquatic, but inshore construction is the dark side. I’ve spent literally hours upon hours working by feel alone – no pretty fishes and palm trees here.

The upside, for me anyway, is the improved sensory acuity. Just one really full field day earlier this week brought back this appreciation, as it is something that cannot be experienced in any other way. Diving itself challenges the fundamental mechanics of our ability to survive – we rely on an artificial means to breathe. Every action and reaction by the diver is made with an underlying self-defense, or subconscious mechanism to protect our state of being in that foreign situation. Once we manage the psychology of breathing underwater, these mechanisms and acute sensory perceptions become more immediately recognized. For example, I’ve found that by not having vision, smell, or hearing (at least not having to listen to anything distracting), my spatial awareness and touch is heightened considerable. Some might consider working in the blind a setback. I would argue that when this is the norm, the mind and body can adapt in ways never imaginable and perform exceedingly well…even accomplishing tasks that would not otherwise be possible.

As physically demanding as mucking about in the black is, there truly is nothing better. The rewards that come with being among the very few not just visitors, but true citizens of the sea, lend themselves to a lifetime of fulfillment.

Back to black…

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