Under the Sea

Many fathers are into sports and in turn, push their sons into sports. My grandfather was into airplanes and his son, my father, was led into airplanes. Although he worked on airplanes all his life, I don’t think airplanes were ever one of his passions. Reading and watching science fiction were, which I picked up on my own, and scuba diving, which I was thrust into.

There might have been a time that he asked me if I would like to learn to scuba dive but I honestly don’t recall having a choice. In the ’90s, you had to be twelve years old to be certified. I was placed in a class at eleven, on the cusp of twelve, so that immediately after my birthday I could test and be a certified diver. 

I’m making this sound like I was opposed to scuba diving but really, I didn’t mind it. Impartial. We usually dove in murky lakes with almost no visibility. Not ideal but… okay. The real drawback was my mom seemed very jealous of my dad’s scuba diving. This became very clear to me during their divorce. 

Also if my dad had any vacation time, he jetted off to the crystal clear waters in the Caribbean. Going to amazing locations like Grand Cayman, or Roatán, Honduras. Once he and my stepmom became a couple, there were four kids to lug around. It was costly to take us all, so we got t-shirts or other souvenirs. Like abandonment issues?

Later, my stepdad got super into scuba diving (which was funny since it was such a hot button issue between my dad and mom) and took me to a local lake. That was when I was twenty-five. 

So a few times diving with my dad at Lake Travis in Austin and once with my stepdad in Athens, Texas. Just a few times in a dirty lake where it was hard to see your hand in front of your face. I never felt the overwhelming urge to do it again.

When we decided to come to Hawai’i, my stepmom mentioned that my dad had always wanted to dive there. As I mentioned before, I like the idea of doing better than my parents as a way of honoring them. I had not been scuba diving in almost twenty years and was told Kaua’i is some of the best diving there is, so I thought I should give it a go.

It was easy to order a new PADI dive card, and I signed up for a ReActivate class with a local scuba shop. Passing the online test was a breeze, and I went out to dive this morning in Koloa.

There was rain earlier in the day and the water was churning up pretty good. Four others were taking the class. I was buddied up with this yahoo several years older than me. He was seriously winded by the time we swam out to the bowie. You are only supposed to be 2 seconds away from your buddy and during our dive, he just cut out. I trailed him down, grabbed onto his leg to get his attention, and showed him the way back with me to where the instructor had left us earlier.

We ended up seeing two sea turtles, the instructor pointed out an eel but I couldn’t see it. Otherworldly coral was everywhere as well as exotic fish. It was wonderful.

Surfacing, the instructor called off our second dive due to the poor visibility, but it was clearer than any lake I had ever been in and I found the experience exhilarating.

I realized that I had not given scuba diving the chance I should have. Having a lackluster time in Texas lakes, my dad’s passion for scuba being a contributing factor in my parent’s divorce, feeling pushed into diving by my dad and resenting the fact I was never taken on a vacation with him got me down on the whole scuba thing.

Previously, if you asked me my thoughts on scuba, I would have given you my most passive “meh” or any other heaping helping of ambivalence. But while writing this I dredged up more emotions than I thought.

After today’s dive, I can’t wait to go again. Now I am extremely grateful for my dad giving me the foundation to get into scuba so long ago, and I wish I had shown more interest back in the day. Maybe begged to travel to the ocean with him. The instructor told me about a boat that will take you off Ni’ihau, the forbidden island, and it sounded fantastic.

Once I was told that your taste buds change every seven years. As a child, I could not stand the taste of mustard but think it’s great now. It might be the same with your earbuds because I detested the musical stylings of Fleetwood Mac, but I like it when my wife plays them now. So if there is any lesson in today’s story beyond “check out scuba diving” it might be, to evaluate something from your childhood that left a bad taste in your mouth, and if it isn’t immoral or illegal, think about giving it a chance. You might find something you really like!

By Sam Watson

I'm pretty good at Microsoft Excel but a freak in Google Sheets.

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2 years ago

Great stuff Sam. I think we all have these moments in our life that can change the trajectory of everything after. #metoo. For me, with moving back and forth with divorced parents – Dad let me try things, mom would make me quit. After a while you just give up. Before long you don’t even realize that you haven’t been trying all these wonderful things life has to offer. I say try it all if you can. Take the class. Visit the country. Try the new food. Climb the mountain. Paint the canvas. Go to the concert. Build the garden. Write the blog. Lol. Life is so worth it.

Erica Lee
Erica Lee
2 years ago

Great perspective Sam! So happy you found something you have a renewed passion for. Sounds incredible, maybe Dash can join you one day too!

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