“Perfect vision!” That is what my ophthalmologist said yesterday morning. It is a fact I take pride in. To be two days short of my 71stbirthday and not need cheaters to read a menu, or glasses for driving is incredible. Yet, as the day wore on I became obsessed with wondering why, with perfect vision, I had been blind -sighted on the previous day. It was at the end of my final check out dive for SCUBA certification.
Under sunny skies the surface seas were barely a foot high off the coast of Riviera Beach, Florida. After a 40-foot descent, the instructor and I enjoyed a tranquil drift along the living reef. My harmonious breathing, slow and steady, kept me floating about two feet off the bottom so as not to disturb King Neptune’s garden. Gazing at the vibrant colored corals and tropical fish we were pleasantly surprised by two aquatic wonders. A giant loggerhead turtle was poised by my side. After a few seconds, he/she majestically swam across our path.
Right behind the loggerhead a ten-foot green moray eel slithered along.
An involuntary deep breath ensued as I marveled at the abundance of sea life.
When the instructor signaled with his thumb pointing up I was relieved. I accomplished my goal to remain calm under water. It was time to ascent. Then, at the fifteen-foot safety stop my demeanor changed. Bored while hovering at the three-minute controlled stop, I checked my watch. The instant my timer went off, my breathing became shallow. My heart raced.
When my head popped onto the surface. I inflated my BCD (buoyancy compensator device). Faster and faster my heart went. My mouth was dry. Thinking fresh air would moisten my dry mouth I pulled the regulator out. Self- talk, thankfully, screamed at me. “Put that dam thing back in your mouth.” I did.
The dive boat was clearly in view. The instructor remained at arm’s length. But, instead of maintaining a more desirable state of mind, my shallow rapid breathing continued, my legs kicked feverishly. I felt desperate to get back on the boat. When I reached the transom I barely had enough energy to pull off my fins. Maybe someone else took them off for me. Climbing the boarding ladder seemed impossible. My thighs were like rubber. I could feel them, though powerless to lift me. The dive master pulled me up. The other divers helped me out of my gear.
All night I wondered what happened. During the safety stop, why couldn’t I see my instructor and I as three dimensional beings hovering on the ocean’s bright blue canvas? At the surface why couldn’t I see myself floating peacefully on my back? To slow my breathing and heart rate why couldn’t I see the tranquility and beauty that abounded, if, indeed, I have perfect vision?
Regretfully I saw what was in my mind, not my view!