You should scuba dive. Seriously. “But, Mark,” you say, “scuba diving just isn’t for me.” Well, I intend to disabuse you of that foolish idea. I’m sure you think you have arguments and I’m also certain they are lousy ones.
It’s expensive? First you need a little perspective before you jump into cost to value assessments. PADI certification is good for your lifetime, so consider it an investment. Cars are even more expensive, don’t last nearly as long, and have greater residual costs.
You claim you’re “claustrophobic”? I hear this one all the time. It’s dumb. If you’re claustrophobic, don’t scuba dive in enclosed spaces. The ocean has plenty of wide open spaces. I promise. Radical notion, I know. And look, if being semi-weightless actually rubs your supposed claustrophobia the wrong way, I would posit that you don’t in fact have claustrophobia; but rather a case of unqualified self-diagnosis and bullshit excuses.
You aren’t interested? I know how that goes and bear with me here. I sold a fairly nice handgun (something highly uncharacteristic of me) to fund my certification because I was peer pressured into scuba diving, despite my total lack of interest. I only got certified because spending a three-day holiday weekend without my drinking buddies seemed like a real drag. I was not excited. My certification dives were boring. Doing drills and being led around by the nose was hardly endearing. After completing the certification process, I thought I’d never want to dive again. But then I did my first chartered two-tank trip and I went from miserable disinterested skeptic to awestruck believer in the span of about two hours.
You think it’s dangerous? Well, so is driving. Yet somehow, you’ve still managed to learn the rules, largely observe them, handle other awful drivers, and survive your commute to work every day. (Unless, of course, you died on your way to work. In which case… How are you even reading this?!) Diving, like driving, is only marginally risky if you mind the rules. Unconvinced? You’re statistically more likely to die running a marathon.
You’re afraid of sharks? Your precious insecure dachshund has a shittier temperament and is far more likely to bite you than any shark. Also, you’ll see so many more small non-predatory fish that sharks will be more “treat” than “threat”. For that matter, please remember that you are a member of the planet’s dominant species and comport yourself accordingly. This includes not looking like, behaving like, or thinking like prey. So stop being a sissy. Sharks are awesome. They’re a reason to dive, not a reason not to.
You don’t like excessive physical exertion? That’s easy. That’s a softball question if ever I heard one. Look… I can do it. It’s not a marathon. Sure, guys like Navy SEALs and Air Force Pararescue Jumpers scuba dive, but I’m neither of those and passed. Furthermore, after the reasonable certification swim, the rest is really a cakewalk. Specifically, try drift diving. It’s like sitting in a recliner and watching animal planet on a big screen in High Definition. You just kick back and enjoy the sights cruising past.
You think the ocean is dirty? So was the bedroom of at least one of the people you’ve slept with and it didn’t stop you from diving in headfirst… and naked. Even if you saved yourself for marriage (props to ya), I’m betting you don’t turn down a roll in the sack with your spouse on account of an overflowing hamper or few pairs of dirty socks on the floor.
You can’t swim? If infants can learn to swim, I’m willing to bet that you can. If you can’t learn to swim, then scuba diving is the least of things that you shouldn’t be allowed to attempt. You don’t need to be Michael Phelps. In fact, a good friend of mine has an aunt who has one prosthetic arm and one prosthetic leg. She got scuba certified. You hear that sound? That’s the sound of your excuse deflating.
You’re afraid of deep water? Fortunately, thanks in no small part to the miracle of photosynthesis, most of the good shit is relatively close to the surface. So there’s still plenty to see if you’re a wuss or don’t want to shell out the extra cash to certify for deeper levels.
Your religion forbids it? Now you’re either lying or you need a new religion. Sure, God may not have given you gills, but he gave Jacques Cousteau and Émile Gagnan the genius to invent the next best thing.
My point is that scuba seemed distant… until I tried it. It was something for other people who were more athletic or people who made more money… until I tried it. It wasn’t for me and I wasn’t interested. I was certain… until I tried it. And it may seem the same to you… until you try it.