I’ve been spending a lot of time contemplating my materialistic values lately. Why do I want to possess so many things? What is that makes me want more stuff? I like the idea of living simplistically and not having all the gizmos and gadgets that will supposedly make me happy. As much as I like the idea its hard to actually shake the stuff. I was watching a documentary on Netflix the other night while laying in bed (Tiny: A Story About Living Small). The film is about a couple who is building a home that is only a few hundred square feet. It’s underlying tone is that we need to shed ourselves of all our stuff and get back to what life is really about. Get out and start enjoying what we have, instead of thinking that we need more manufactured products to be content.
This brings me to my story from the following day. I had most of the day off with no classes to teach and nowhere to be until six pm. So what did I do on my day off from being a dive instructor? Welllll, I grabbed my speargun, GoPro, and dive gear then set off for a nice day underwater! Everything was going perfectly. The sunrise was gorgeous that morning, I picked up my coffee from a local place called The Spot and headed to the dock. We set out on the boat, hardly any wind and the seas looked like a lake, flat calm. I knew it was going to be a good day.
I took my first plunge into the water around ten am. Shot five lion fish took some cool photos then ascended to catch some rays on the deck before going back under. The second dive was just as good as the first even better I would say. The visibility was a hundred plus feet, blue water and a nice eight four degrees. I speared four more lion fish, watched a few turtles cruise by, sneered at the shark who came my way and hung out with a goliath grouper that followed me the entire dive. My buddy came up before me but left me his pole spear before doing so. At the end of my dive with a stringer full of Lionfish I had to clip everything off so I wouldn’t lose anything. All while avoiding being stung by the Lionfish’s poisonous tips (which feels like ten thousand bee stings all at once and yes that analogy is from a personal experience). So there I am, clipping off spearguns to pole spears and pole spears to stringers ascending while keeping an eye out for sharks (they really like dead fish). I make it to my fifteen foot safety stop hang out for a bit and then come to the surface and wait for the boat to pick me up.
As I am handing up my spears to the Divemaster I have a major OH SHIT moment. Where is my GoPro?? Son of a ***** it’s not on my wrist, not clipped to my BC and the DM says it’s not on the boat. I climb up the ladder, frantically search the boat and yea you got it, it’s no where to be found. Our dives are over now and the boat is running an afternoon trip so we have to head to the dock. My whole day is immediately turned upside down. The incredible morning I was having just turned to shit. Not only was it my GoPro with the LCD touchscreen it was also my eight hundred lumen SOLA light, my Backscatter Macro filter, another Backscatter red filter and the mount it was all attached to. All in all I left well over a thousand dollars worth of equipment somewhere in the ocean.
It was kismet that this happen to me when it did. I was wanting to shed the stuff I possessed but not ready to do it on my own. I believe in an energy that surrounds us all. An energy that gives back to you what you put in to it. I needed help shedding myself of material things. I don’t think my day off was meant to be a day off at all. So often I am in the ocean teaching, however, on this day out in the blue, I was the student. Losing this small possession, no bigger than an average bag of David’s Sunflower seeds, completely altered my mood. If something so small has such power over me what control do I really have? The entire way back to the dock I was in my head rationalizing and justifying why it was OK for me to be upset about this loss. It’s expensive, I don’t make much money, I want pictures, I need a dive light ect…
As soon as we hit the dock I ran to my car fired it up and lit out of the parking lot. I went to the nearest shop and picked up two more tanks so I could make the afternoon trip. I know the captain fairly well and so he said he would drop me on the same part of the reef to look for my things. I made it back just in time to whip the tanks out of my trunk and hop on the boat as we untied and pulled out of the slip. It’s now nearly one o’clock in the afternoon in Florida which means it is an entirely different day. It’s now windy as hell, storm clouds rolling in, and 2 foot seas. We break the inlet and head south along the beach. We drop the divers on a wreck and let them have their fun. Just as we get them back on the boat for their surface interval it starts pissing down rain. We turn the Starfish Enterprise back towards the reef and start looking for the spot I came up.
I gear up and jump in the water head first, no time to stay on the surface, I’ve got to find my stuff. There was north current on the wreck so Doug dropped me south of where we think I surfaced. I get seventy-five feet under and it is a ripping south current and the visibility has dropped to twenty feet. There is no way I can fight the current while doing a search and recovery dive in that kind of viz. I come right back to the surface and have him re-drop me. The next drop we start north of our predetermined location. I get down seventy feet onto the reef and it is a ripping north. I can’t catch a break. I say screw it tie off my line and start swimming into the current. I AM GOING TO FIND MY STUFF. I NEED MY THINGS!
As I swim south against the current I am recognizing the reef. Yep, that’s where I shot the first Lionfish. I come over the next ridge and I see the Goliath Grouper that followed me. Now I know I am on the right track. I swim over three more ridges and I am about to give up. I’m using my air quickly, I no longer have a surface marker and I am getting frustrated. I stop. I take a few breaths and start to realize how ridiculous this is. On the bottom of the ocean in eighty feet of water I start to understand that I really do need to LET GO of these possessions. If I am going to get this worked up over some THING and let it ruin my entire day/week/month then I most likely don’t need it in my life at all. I said my peace with the universe at seventy-six feet below sea level. I stated that I understood I need to let go of my material belongings. I acknowledged the lesson I was being taught. I recognized that I need to place more value on relationships than on products. I accepted that I have been to focused on my own personal gain and that I need to work on giving back to others.
I swam over one more ridge.
And there it was. Laying in the sand, in eighty-two feet of water. My entire set up. Like it had been placed there on purpose. It was as if my entire day had been about that previous moment. About coming to terms with how I was living. About me getting over myself and my status amongst my peers and tearing down the walls I build by buying more and more stuff. I am still in awe of how it all worked out. The odds of me finding these items are incalculable. The chances of even being dropped on the same patch of reef are slim to none not to mention the strange currents and sudden drop of visibility. July 21, 2014 was a cosmic day and one I will not soon forget.