It is October. We finally have a break in the Florida heat. Fall is in the air. Halloween decorations are abound in stores around town. Haunted houses and movies made to frighten are advertised on television and billboards. I’ve been thinking a bit about fear lately. Fear, it seems, comes in all types of packages and is different for everyone.
Over the past (almost) two years, we have overcome a few fears in this lifestyle which has added to the excitement of the adventure. We have met quite a few people in various stages of fear as well. We’ve met people who are getting out of their comfort zone to try a different method of cruising than they are accustomed. And we’ve met people who have the fear of leaving land to live out their dream of cruising.
About ten years ago Mark and I decided to learn to SCUBA dive. I love to swim, we both love to snorkel. All of our vacations were around water. It just seemed the next thing to do. That was until we were in the practice pool. I was both astounded and annoyed that suddenly I was having a sort of panic as I dove down past six feet. I was not sure what was happening. All I knew at the time was that it was very uncomfortable and made me feel panicky.
The instructor was former Navy. He had thousands of hours of diving under his belt. He had seen it all and was very patient. I was not the only student in the class having issues once in the water. He took time with us all. We did fine and we all graduated our open water classes on the Atlantic Ocean off Florida. After we concluded our course the instructor confided in me that he has at least three or four people in each class that have a sudden or known fear of diving. He calls them his little ducklings.
Our dive instructor told me he feels like a Mother duck when he looks over his shoulder to see a line of wide eyed, excited but nervous students bobbing up and down in the water. The students pull at their gear, nervously watching their air gauges, worry about staying down and getting the hand signals correct. And, there is always one who wanders off. He said it makes his heart proud when they all complete their tasks and pass the course. As he told me this story the tenderness and warmhearted smile said it all. This guy really loved teaching diving. He took great pleasure knowing he has trained students to be safe divers and is sending them on their way to new adventures. It was quite the picture he painted and it stuck with me. Mark and I had some great adventures diving. Overcoming the fear and getting past the learning curve was all very worth the effort.
Through this blog, we receive quite a lot of emails from people who have questions about the cruising life. The bulk of the questions are from people who are in various stages of leaving the land life for cruising. Typically they are less than a year away from retirement. We have met many of them in person as well. They have a lot of the same questions we had and spend hours picking our tiny brains about this lifestyle. The difference between us and the dive instructor is we are still new to this lifestyle. We don’t have the thousands of hours under our belts. We too are still learning. We don’t have all the answers but we do what we can to help and are happy to pass along any knowledge we may have picked up.
The picture the instructor painted came back to me today. I really get it. I can see the wide-eyed excitement mixed with a healthy dose of fear of the unknown on the faces of the soon to be cruisers. People excited about trying something outside their box but still not sure what that means. Looking forward to the new adventures once they get through the darn learning curve. Hoping it all makes senses when some of the unknowns are answered. So– that is what we looked like to the SCUBA instructor. No wonder he loves his job.
Note: The family of ducks in the picture above lived in our marina all summer. We got to watch them grow. Very cool. My favorite is the one swimming the wrong way. There is always one. 🙂