Why I’m Thankful for Diving

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I typically discuss how diving saved my life. 

The story begins in 2015, once I was a depressing, overworked Los Angeles lawyer. Again then, I adopted all the principles and did the whole lot “proper”. The end result was a profession and life lived by the books and devoid of marvel.

Diving modified all that.

A diver photographs a ring of steel pompano fish.
I took this photograph of my dive buddy on our security cease as metal pompanos encircled us. This was a type of “magic” diving moments I’ll always remember. Tiffany Duong

The Begin of a Love Affair

It began with one scuba dive within the Galapagos

It was my first drift dive ever, and I used to be terrified to not be anchored down close to the seafloor. Thus, I gave myself a pep-talk on the backside of the ocean that went one thing like, “Tiff, should you don’t let go of this rock now, you'll die right here alone, on the backside of the ocean. Let go NOW!” 

As I allowed the ocean to take me and discovered to belief her, one thing deep and powerful stirred inside me. Earlier than I knew it, I used to be browsing the currents, just like the turtles in Discovering Nemo. I used to be exhilarated. Worry had been changed by flying. I felt free.

I emerged from that dive modified, new life coursing via my veins. I’d found an entire new world and an entire new me. That was the start of my lifelong love affair with the ocean and with scuba diving. 

Divers pose for a group photo in front of the iconic Darwin's Arch.
Diving proper off Darwin’s Arch (earlier than it fell) within the Galapagos was an expertise I’ll always remember. Tiffany Duong

How the Sea Saved Me

The week wore on, and I slept on the deck of the boat — unable to go away the nice and cozy winds and salty seas for even an evening. Then, on the aircraft journey again to L.A., I used to be overcome with nervousness and inexplicable grief about leaving. I didn’t absolutely perceive why, however I knew that issues needed to change. Within the weeks that adopted, I bought my home, give up my job, and determined to float of life to see the place it'd take me. The ocean had referred to as, and I used to be prepared for an journey. 

It’s been over six years since that fateful journey. Some 300 dives later, I’m nonetheless as enamored by the ocean as I used to be again then. Now, as an ocean advocate and storyteller, I've the enjoyment of sharing what the ocean means to me every single day. 

There Are No ‘Guidelines’

Beneath the ocean, there are not any “guidelines” per se; there’s no air to breathe, and even gravity responds in a different way. It’s no marvel that my tightly-wound previous self discovered herself so at peace beneath the floor: it's the epitome of freedom.

As a diver, this permission to go anyplace and be anybody is literal. I can float in any and each course. I can select to go the wrong way up, sideways, and one leg out. It doesn’t matter. That notion has been so extremely liberating for me.

A diver does a one-handed handstand underwater, with her fins up.
I celebrated my 100th hour underwater with a one-handed handstand — as a result of even the principles of gravity are totally different underwater. Tiffany Duong

These ideas run via my thoughts each time I duck under. As soon as I descend, I unfold my arms out vast. I think about myself as a manta ray over the reef, one with the ocean. Typically, I shut my eyes to raised really feel the drag of the silky water throughout my pores and skin. I trickle my fingers by means of it as I might out of a automotive window and smile — completely content material.

Pleasure and Magic Beneath the Waves

As I’ve explored extra of the blue world, I’ve additionally found magic and pleasure, which have been so elusive in my previous life. From marriage proposals on scuba (the ring was in a go professional case) to underwater pumpkin carvings to veterans experiencing the “therapy of the sea,” I’ve witnessed all of it. These “common life experiences” are amplified when carried out underwater, on scuba. The waters actually are healing and beautiful

Yellowtail snapper fish swim around an old coral mount in the Florida Keys
Yellowtail snappers swim round an previous coral mount. These scenes all the time take my breath away. Tiffany Duong

I’ve Discovered My Tribe

And, lastly, diving has brought me my tribe. We’re all looking to belong on this world, and I’ve discovered my place amongst a rag-tag bunch of divers, boat captains and ocean enthusiasts who call the Florida Keys home. Within the water, we're our best, happiest selves. Positive, we’re totally different; however all of us sway with the identical swells right here in paradise. 

Divers stand with their gear in front of the Blue Heron Bridge in Florida.
My buddies all share a love of diving and the ocean. Tiffany Duong

What Diving Has Given Me

And so, once I say that diving saved my life, I actually imply it. It saved me from a actuality that I hated and introduced me right into a model of myself I by no means might have imagined. For instance, I’ve gone freediving with crocs, helped launch quite a few sea turtles, and completed a Dive Against Debris with Fabien Cousteau (he’s superior, by the best way). Journey after journey, my very favourite moments by some means all the time contain water and diving.

Principally, I’ve had absolutely the time of my life under the floor. All of this has given me function, pleasure and pleasure. And for that, I’ll endlessly be grateful.

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