I am so happy to be able to be in the water today, more than usually anyways, for PADI’s International Woman’s Dive Day with two beautiful ladies on their Open Water Course. In April of 2012, I decided to take a step to becoming a scuba diver. Since then, I’ve adopted a new identity; marine conservationist. I was always an activist of sorts and an animal lover, but diving allowed me to push my passion towards something concrete. I’ve consistently admired influential ocean activists such as Sylvia Earle or Paul Watson, dreaming I would one day become the next marine biologist exploring the worlds’ oceans and contributing to limit the human impact on our seas. Since then I’ve come a long way for the comparatively short time I’ve spent in the ocean and have come to the conclusion that introducing people to diving might actually bring a change once they have seen the beauty and what we do to it. I don’t want to become to next Sylvia Earle, as much as I admire her, her place in this world is already taken. I want to become to first Sigourney, inspiring others along the way, to keep intact what we have and as beautiful as it still is.
On a typical day, I get up each morning and make my way to the dive center to prepare for a course. On this special day celebrating Woman’s Dive Day, I taught two bright women how to dive and took them out on their first Open Water Dive in the ocean. This to me meant more than the usual routine. Being in the water with salt in my hair and the sun on my face simply makes me happy with what I am doing. My students were very apprehensive about getting into the water, nervous. I know nervousness all too well. But being able to see them submerge their head underwater and observe the passion ignite in their eyes is so enjoyable. They flew through the expected skills and once we got back to shore, one of my girls came up to me and gave me a very heartfelt hug. She then proceeded to tell me about this brief period she had underwater where she looked at a cod and the cod looked right back at her and they both had this moment with each other; timeless and completely captivating. I loved that story. It makes me smile whenever I retell it and can only match it to the very first time I locked eyes with a fish and fell in love with diving. Looking at a cod is one way of seeing it but for a brief moment feeling one with everything is the other.
I was especially lucky to have been surrounded by adventurous and spirited instructors and divemasters who have mentored me into becoming the instructor I am today. I think there comes a point in everyones’ life when something big is about to happen, you hit an intersection and don’t know which road to take because no matter how hard you try, you cannot see ahead and it scares you. The unknown always scares you. Especially the ocean can be such a place. Deep, cold, wet, dark at times and ever moving… A place where we can only survive with technical gadgets that we utterly rely upon, consciously being aware of breathing, this awe never goes away. I am so proud of every student for taking that step, despite being afraid of what lies beneath the surface, showing true courage in doing so. I want to continue to inspire people and listen to their stories, change their perception of what others taught them about the ocean and let them have their own moments with a cod.