25.01.2008 - 27.01.2008
Last weekend, I went to the Island of Puerto Galera to take an open water scuba diving course. It was a long trip and consisted of a jeepney, tricycle, bus and ferry ride and 4 hours of traveling. When I got there Friday evening, it was too late and my instructor and I decided to start at 9 am the next day.
On Saturday I was at the dive shop at 9 watching a video about the basics of diving. By 12 o’clock I was told that there’s another student in the shop who is also starting the course, so I’m going to have a ‘buddy’ which is a good thing because you always dive with a buddy and it’s important to learn the buddy system. At 2 o’clock I was in my wet suit, after breaking two nails trying to put in on, and I was in the pool listening to my instructor telling me to take off my mask and hold my breath under the water, swim across the pool with one breath, take off my BCD jacket and put it back on under the water and share air with my buddy while swimming to the surface. That’s when I realized my fear of water is much more profound than I had estimated and so I decided diving is not for me.
But one thing diving did for me was that it made me realize how I take simple things for granted. Small things like breathing effortlessly, running as fast as I want, whenever I want, and voice that enable us to communicate.
Then just when I thought I was totally in control of my life and nothing could stop or change that, I was asked to enter the water and breathe through a moderator for 10 minutes. I looked at the air tank and thought for the next 10 minutes, my life will depend on this small little device. It scared me but at the same time I had to trust it. I had to let go of control. In order to dive, I had to trust something I had no control over.
I guess that’s another thing diving taught me. That sometimes to accomplish something and to open new horizons, I have to let go of control and let someone else or something else take me there. Letting go of control doesn’t always mean denying myself freedom. It could mean being open to new possibilities and being receptive to what might happen that would take me beyond my limitations. That something or someone could actually take me where I wouldn't be able to go on my own. When the instructor asked me to take my mask off, close my eyes (so my contacts wouldn’t fall off) and let him drag me across the pool, my first reaction was: ‘what if he lets go of me? What if I can’t bring myself to the surface with these heavy weights attached to me, and what if the air tank falls off me?’ I was frightened and angry at myself for being there. But then a voice inside me told me that I have to let the fear go. That I can trust this guy that he won’t let me drown. I held on to his jacket and he turned me around, pulled me to the deep end of the pool and back to where we started. When he finally asked me to open my eyes and stand on my feet, I was relieved and happy to have accomplished something that I've been resisting for years. The ability to let go of control and to trust. And I promised myself to always try to remember that with trust comes great accomplishments.
On a much less emotional and intellectual note, my relationship with Chow King is now a complicated one. I guess my enthusiasm for Yang Chow Fried Rice got the cook’s attention because he sent the cashier and the busboy to find out more about me. Here’s how the conversation went:
After I ordered, I sat at a window table, hungry, and waited for my beloved Yang Chow. A minute later, I found the giggling cashier and the busboy standing next to my table.
Cashier: Hello ma’am!
Me (smiling): Hi!
Cashier: Ma’am, do you have a husband?
Me (with my eyebrows raised as high as they could, not sure if I heard it right): Excuse me?!
Cashier: What’s your name, ma’am?
Cashier: Ma’am, our head chef wants to know your name.
Cashier: Our head chef wants your phone number too ma’am.
Me: oh …
Cashier: Our head chef wants to get to know you, ma’am.
Me: That’s very nice of him! But why he didn’t come to talk to me himself?
Cashier (giggling): Ma’am, our head chef wants to get to know you later.
Me: Well, tell your head chef that I’m probably too old for him. But thanks anyway.
busboy: How old are you, ma’am?
Me (thinking it wouldn’t hurt to add a couple of years): I’m 35. How old is he?
Cashier: He’s also 30 plus, ma’am.
Me: No, I think I’m much older than him. Thanks though. Bye bye now.
And that was the last time I had Yang Chow ... for now.