I’m dating myself by saying this, but when I got out of the Marine Corps in 1995 I had zero clue which direction I should head.
I did a brief stint in construction working with my cousin doing drywall, played ice-monkey, slinging drinks at a Mexican restaurant, and even did some guest spots for various organizations translating from a certain language into another (and that’s all I’ll say about that 😈). But nothing really stuck. I felt lost.
At some point I settled on medicine. Weird to say that after 25 years, but yes… I settled. So much so that I sunk all $12k of my GI Bill into a return to the educational grind. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but back in the 80’s that was pretty much what things seemed to cost in the future. “Give us $1,200 and we’ll basically pay for your college education with 12 grand…”. Yeah, not so much by the time I got there. And nothing compared to the tens of thousands the GI Bill returns now, or even what schools charge! #Bullshit
But I digress…
1995 and $12k aside, if I could follow in Cher’s footsteps and “turn back time”, I’d go back to that young man and show him the peace, serenity, and potential of being a diver and dive leader. I’d show him videos of the experiences he’d have (assuming technology could go with me and I didn’t have to go back naked alla Terminator), the places he would see, and the underwater world he could experience.
More importantly, I’d let him know that he didn’t have to do this alone. His GI Bill would help him achieve that dream! He wouldn’t have to go into hundreds of thousands of medical school debt to love the life he would live.
But I didn’t. Not only was that whole time travel thing not a “THING”, but if time is a loop, then I’ve already made all of my choices – the only thing left is to follow them to their ends.
And now we come to the point(s).
Learning to scuba dive is a win-win situation. It’s inexpensive, it’s very similar to the best parts of our military experiences, and you will see stuff on your travels that will be awe inspiring to your less adventurous civilian counterparts.
And then there’s the meditation. 🧘🏾
A drop in the bucket
Like many of us who run away and join the circus, in my case (the) U(ncle) S(ams) M(isguided) C(hildren), I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m not even sure at 55 that I’m even there yet! What I do know is that the cost of learning anything SCUBA is but a drop in the bucket compared to a quarter million dollar student loan that will outlive you.
The same, but different
A SCUBA life is like the best parts of the military. Camaraderie, a leadership structure, rules, ethics, training protocols, basic and advanced levels of participation, and cool f’n outfits that make you look like a goddamned super hero.
This is a group sport filled with individuals tantamount to the fireteam all the way down to the lonely sniper: you can participate in exactly the group that speaks to you!
Oh the places you’ll see!
I won’t jump too deeply into this one, but I have probably travelled more for SCUBA than I have at any other time in my life, and I was a military brat and then a Marine! And, I’ve seen parts of those places that those non-bubble blowers will ever get to see!
And something they never taught us about…
Absolute, total, and complete peacefulness. The only sound that of your slow, methodical, natural breathing. The throng of the outside world is not just muted, it is nonexistent. There is no meditation, no vision quest, and no medication which equals the feeling I get when diving. I’ve tried!
The ocean is her own special thing. When I slip beneath that massive existence, knowing that it touches 75% of the entire planet, everything disappears from my mind and I am at one with my peace.
No matter what you do in life, I want you to remember two things: first, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon. You have just one life to live. But you have to LIVE IT in order for it to count.
Second: “You’re worth more than this.” Haste the Day; Stitches. This country owes you a life debt for your service that can never be repaid. There is no reason to sit back and just exist in this world.
What am I trying to say? Live. Experience life. Have an adventure. Do something that most people only dream about. And while you’re at it, learn something new. A new way to see the world. A new way to exist. A new way to be at peace.
Your benefit. Your choice.
As a veteran your GI Bill will pay you for your training. You can become a computer Nitrox diver right out of the gate. You can evolve into a Rescue Diver, getting certified in every aspect of SCUBA life saving that exists. You can even start on your journey to SCUBA professional, with the GI Bill covering your Divemaster, Assistant Instructor, Instructor, even up to Instructor Trainer, the highest level TDISDI offers.
So what are you waiting for? Time waits for no [person]. 😏
Look up your closest shop and ask them about using your GI Bill to train. If they don’t know, call their parent organization and ask them. Or hell, call me and I’ll help you navigate this hurdle with them. I don’t care where you train… I care that you get to experience all that this life has to offer. I care that you get to experience the absolute peace and tranquility of SCUBA. Because under the sea, deep down where sound evaporates, the voices stop, and the world disappears… that’s where we leave our demons.