Life Lesson #3

15 November 2009

Stay Calm When it All Falls Apart

Serena is one of my favorite teen students. She's 13 years old and a daredevil. Not that I've seen the daredevil side of her...for me, she was happy, polite and obedient, but her mother reports she's a bit of a daredevil.

We had finished her sisters certification dive and the waters were starting to get a bit rough. But this was the big day, and Serena was fine to go into the waves. When we entered the water, the surge was enough that I had Serena lay back in "relaxation pose #1" . I donned her fins for her, while she kept her regulator in her mouth. We descended beneath the churning sea and spent a half hour watching sea critters frolic on the floor of the Sound.

The ascent. Ouch. Our entry point, a set of stairs, was completely blocked by crashing waves and logs strewn across the waters surface. The waves were large, Serena was calm. I quickly thought of the other exit...the beach. As I spotted a large log coming straight for us, only a couple waves away, I looked at Serena (regulator still in mouth) and said, "Drop down and follow me."

We descended back to the calm of the bottom, swam around two piers, and re-emerged in deeper water in front of the beach entrance. Walking out was not an option, as the waves would hit Serena in the waist from the shore. I decided we'd low crawl. I explained to Serena we would swim into the shallows, then crawl on our hands and knees up onto the beach. She said sure, and down we went.

(Note: For divers from Northern California, this is how they dive...but in the Puget Sound, we don't get real waves. )

We hit the beach, began to crawl, but Serena being 13 could only make it halfway out, and without the water's lift helping her along, she crashed into the sand. She lay there, tossed and toppled by each wave, regulator still in her mouth, while her instructor unclipped her BCD clips so she could crawl out without the gear. Unclipped...up the shore she went.

At no point in the entire exit did Serena show any panic. No fear. Just calm. I was very thankful that day it was Serena, the daredevil, who simply trusted that all would be ok and her instructor would take care of the rest. While our exit was rough, it was emotionally uneventful and much easier to manage due to the calm when it all fell apart.

Sometimes in life, we need to stay calm when it's all falling apart. Look for another way out and realize that there may be challenges with the second option as well. But remaining focused on the outcome will assure that while the journey's tough, the ending will be satisfying.

I'd love to hear any examples of how you've stayed calm in the face of danger...we can all learn from others and grow stronger! Leave a comment below: