"It feels strange the first time. Your mask, your awkward gear, a bit heavy. You ease into the water and your face slips below the surface. Inhale; the air comes with reassuring hiss, and for the first time, you breathe underwater. Your equipment transforms to light and agile, and you're free like you've never experienced before. With that first underwater breath, the door opens to a different world.
...scuba diving means rising to new challenges. It's one of those rare activities that delivers adrenaline and intensity, or serenity and peace. ...diving grows with you - there's always something new to see, somewhere new to explore, some new way to enjoy the experience."
"If you live life on the edge or find pleasure in a pure adrenaline high... you should be a PADI Diver. Whether exploring the secrets of a sunken wreck at a nearby lake, venturing through hidden underwater caverns, or experiencing close encounters with fascinating species in exotic corners of the globe, you'll find adventure on every dive - and meet others who share your quest for unending excitement."
So are the words that the PADI Open Water Diver Manual opens with. I was hooked from the first page.
One month in the city, and I finally remember what made me so excited to leave home for a foreign land. (An excitement that was very quickly dampened by the ridiculous cold and culture shock, but that story has already been told plenty of times.) The city is beautiful, if you stand and look from a distance. When bright lights twinkle, the noise of motorists commuting down highways blends into a low hum, when there's time to sit at a sidewalk coffeehouse and people-watch.
When you're caught up in the rhythms of the city, however, life moves at an almost frightening pace. When you examine it from a distance, as a tourist marvels at an unfamiliar land, without letting its pace seep into you, then the city is a fascinating, soulful place. When the city gets under your skin and into your veins, however, things become clockwork and routine and frenetic and soul-sucking.
I know, because it's happened to me. And after spending a year in a small town which, as much as I complained about it, forced me to slow down and take life at a more natural rhythm, I'm afraid to get so caught up in the competitiveness and materialism and workaholism of the city that my soul has no room to breathe.
Traveling has become an addiction. The feeling of motion, the unfamiliarity of new sights, new lands, and the reminders that the world is so much bigger than my little bubble of comfort and that change is the only constant in life - all of these keep a sense of wonder and awe alive in me. It keeps my hunger to learn more about the world I live in alive.
Sucked into the city's pace, all one lives for is the next paycheck, the next purchase, the next promotion, the next status update in social standing. So much is taken for granted, and so much is complained about. The world is a very small place for people who don't even notice the sunset they drive past on their way home from work every single day.
I'm a city kid at heart. Born and bred among and in tall buildings and bright lights. But I don't want that to define and limit who I am and the way I live my life. Even if I don't always get to travel across land I want to always be chasing new horizons, whether in stories I read, music I listen to, or new skills I learn. I want life to always be an endlessly fascinating exploration of the unknown and to open up to me like a beautiful flower. I want a life that is vast and diverse, so vast and diverse that I'll never be able to say I'm bored or tired of it.
I want a life that, like diving (or at least as PADI claims), always holds something new to see, somewhere new to explore, and some new way to enjoy the experience.
Dear Tioman island, I can't wait to kiss your shores and swim in your seas six days from today. Keep them pretty for me. Love, me.
A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands. -William Lyon Phelps
Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend or a meaningful day. -Dalai Lama