A Diver's New Year's Resolutions
By Jeanne Bear Sleeper
Make one of your 1998 New Year's resolutions a commitment to personal growth and enjoyment through scuba diving. Since you have already quit smoking, lost weight, fixed everything around the house and are performing 110 percent at work, this is the year to focus on recreational diving excellence!
A thoroughly non-scientific survey was conducted among California divers, with these resolutions most often cited as 'ought to be on my list.'
Try a new dive site: Most divers are in a rut going to the same spots over and over. Try a new lake. Even if the diving stinks, you can tell stories about how bad it was! Check out the location guidebooks for new ideas. Consider a weekend trip to another state or a boat trip. Use your frequent flyer miles to fly to San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach or any of the dozens of other cities with fleets of day dive boats.
Learn a new skill: If you are diving less because you are bored, take up underwater photography. Then you'll have lots to think about! Or, take an U/W navigation class and hone your compass skills. If you are really ready to stretch, think about enrolling in cave, ice or wreck diving courses. If you can't fit a class into your schedule, get a book and teach yourself a useful skill, such as knot tying.
Encourage a new diver: Ask a novice to go diving with you. Advanced divers have been known to treat novices like second class citizens. Invite them to join your club, your diving weekend or to be your buddy. You might actually enjoy teaching a new diver a thing or two and helping someone become comfortable in the water.
Share the joy of diving with nondivers: The underwater world is amazing. Breathing underwater is a trip. Being weightless and free is a wild experience. The ecology of the world's waters is incredibly important to the health of mankind. Tell someone how it feels and why you go scuba diving. Ask your child's teacher if you could bring equipment and talk to the class. Offer to speak to the teen group at your place of worship. Volunteer as a docent at a local aquarium or for the parks and recreation department seaside nature walk programs.
Give back some of the pleasure: Volunteer at organized activities such as beach clean-ups. Or, make a long term commitment by training as a hyperbaric chamber operator and then volunteering to stand watch a few weekends a year. Practice random acts of thoughtfulness by making sure the beach you use is cleaner when you leave than when you came.
Update your equipment: Maybe use your tax refund check to purchase your first dive computer or drysuit. Did you get cash for Christmas? Use it to replace your old buoyancy compensator or regulator. If replacing a mask or snorkel would add pleasure to your dives, just do it.
Clean, service and repair equipment off-season: If winter is a nondiving season for you, now is the time to replace straps, get regulators serviced, lube connections or glue wetsuit tears and nicks. Dump out your dive bag and throw away the odd bits that have accumulated, replenish your first aid kit; you might even consider washing that dive bag!
Make diving a family affair: Whether family members dive or not, they can be part of a diving activity. Make a diving day a family day by taking everyone to the beach and having a picnic. Take a family beach walk, photograph the wildlife, examine the tide pools and share your love of the underwater environment with your family topside.
Attend a diving related function: Check out the calendar listings in diving publications and pick a film show, conference or workshop to attend. Activities are offered around the country, mostly in spring, fall and winter. The prices range from free to modest and you usually do not have to be affiliated with the group putting on the program. One of the hottest IMAX movies in Southern California last year was Undersea, which introduced thousands weekly to the beauty of the underwater world.
Read a diving publication: Subscribe to more than one publication about the underwater world. Continue to read Skin Diver Magazine, plus add another book or magazine. Consider joining DAN and reading its magazine Alert Diver; explore nature's beauty with Ocean Realm and its fabulous pictorials.
Make a wish list of diving things you want to do: Have dreams and goals that you carry from year to year, checking off experiences as you log memories. There are no rules or boundaries on this private slate. More than 5,000 dives ago, when I started blowing bubbles, I made a list of 99 things to do before I was 50. (I guess at 18 I assumed 50 was the end!) From the list, here's what I have left to do in the next few years: see every species of whale in or under the water (22 are marked off so far); have one of my photographs appear on the cover of National Geographic; find a new species; dive the Antarctic; go diving with Stan Waterman; marry someone who loves the ocean as much as I do; hold a Giant Octopus; pet a really big shark; live aboard a boat and dive the Great Barrier Reef for 30 days in a row.
Checking off the first 90 items have been 90 of the happiest moments in my life. Make a resolution, no matter what your age, to make a list of 99 things to do, and then begin.