Whenever I’m backpacking, I tend to let fear get to me. What is I get abducted and I have no “safe word”? What if I get robbed? What if I don’t find a vegetarian restaurant within 50 meters? As I imagine it, fear is like a plant that has her roots in our feet and gains more space inside our body if we allow it. Don’t understand me wrong, dangers do exist. They are very tangible, but fear, fear is only a matter of choice.
I went to 20 m on a night dive in Amed with the White Sand Divers, a locally managed school. Before every dive, you have to sign a contract stating that you and only you are fully responsible in case of death or injury. I’ve been diving 10 times up to now: night dives, 30 m dives, wreck dives, you name it. And every single time, I have that clinch to my heart “Man, if I die, i signed the freaking contract. My parents won’t even be able to sue them and earn some honest money out of my death!!” This time, we went into water from the shore. And yes, it is more dangerous than entering into the water by leaning backwards from a boat. A lovely evening to face a slightly disturbed sea.
Despite hearing my pulse tapping into my inner ear, I swim further, fighting the waves and we start going down. My buddy for the dive is the one and only dive master. He might be a very competent and composed person, but my fear distorts the perception I have of him. The more I sink, the more I feel I am not to breathe again. You see, this is how fear works, it paints black everything about and around you. And not only that: a mind subjugated by fear will also attract the worst. Twenty minutes into the dive, my flash-light breaks down and the dive master does not notice. Why would he? He keeps on swimming without turning his head. I am heavily breathing the blackness around me and rewinding in slow motion the moment when I signed the contract. “In case of accident and/or death…”
Rule number one: panic and you’re dead. I have to count 60 seconds before going up to the surface. I keep my eyes open but still there is nothing to see. It’s blackout inside the ocean. In the fraction of a second I remember Tim from Big Blue Diving on Koh Tao, Thailand, who initiated me in scuba-diving. I start breathing deeply, centering my mind and waving my hand to make the plankton glitter. “We’re casting spells,” he would say. The fear is like a diffuse background noise. I either got intoxicated with nitro or I hit the bottom and the inner child had come out to play. It usually happens when you know your situation could probably not get any worse: you are lost at 20 m in the ocean. At night. That’s when I saw the light from the master’s lamp.
Fear will always be there. Once you accept it and turn its volume down, you start tapping into your true potential. When we come out to surface, I am exhausted but I am feeling so grateful. I rise my eyes: we are under the most beautiful sky I had ever seen in my life. No moon; a starry sky, abundant in all sorts of lights and colors. And to top it off, we are heading back home on a KTM.