Estremera: Tunnel visioning

THE tide has turned and the current was strong. That should have been okay except that the tide turned towards the end of the second dive and it was rushing in against where we were headed – our boat anchored at the distance.

I looked back to where my two male companions were. They had their hands full helping a female diver who was on an intro dive. Being on an intro dive means the diver is not licensed, and thus would most probably be not able to fin against a strong current.

They were also not using fins designed for strong currents like the ones I was using. I didn’t have the heart to burden them further by hanging on to them for some help in pushing myself forward.

I’ve been through worse currents, but this time I had a handicap. My buoyancy control device (BCD) was self-inflating, and struggling with a current with a BCD that constantly inflates slows you down, even keeps you in place despite furious finning. I was trying to pull out the inflator tube, as an emergency recourse, but as expected, it’s stuck, vacuumed in by our descent and ascent in the waters. I just have to keep my hand on the deflator button and constantly raise it up to deflate every time I feel the pull.

For the uninitiated, going against the current on an inflated BCD is like holding an open umbrella while riding a motorcycle. You need to be as streamlined as possible to make considerable distance, I don’t have that luxury.

Ahead of me were two men who were free-diving, meaning, no diving gears except for their fins and masks. But they were strong swimmers, even as they were carrying a plastic crate between the two of them containing the crown of thorns they collected.

Their slow and deliberate finning forward became the focus of my attention and encouragement.

I may have a self-inflating BCD that was holding me back every several seconds, but I had a tank that still had a lot of air in it, more than enough to bring me to the boat even if I was making very slow progress.

Thus, as I furiously flipped my fins, I was also telling myself that if those guys can reach the boat without compressed air to breathe underwater, I can do it as well since I still have more than half in my tank. I could see them struggling a bit, and that buoyed my spirit. “It’s not me, it’s the current,” I reminded myself.

With that frame of mind, I was finally able to reach the boat, just after the two swimmers did.

It was only after we were all aboard when I realized that we shared similar thoughts during our struggle back. That question on why the boat didn’t lift anchor and went nearer.

Normally, we would just have floated and waved at the boat to come nearer. But with the current against us, we would have been carried farther away faster than we can signal.

That unspoken question on why the boat didn’t come near us, however, was quickly stamped out even before it could propagate some resentment inside. Resentment, after all, can sap energy; energy I have very little to spare. The focus was on moving forward. That was all.

It’s times like this when I come to realize that while my mind may wander off a lot, the ability to focus is still there except that I don’t call on it as often as I should.

Back on land, I was once again struggling with my concentration to finish a task. I stopped and recalled what transpired just a few days back, harnessed my focus, and paddled on even when there was this wish to quit at the back of my mind.

It’s 3:14 a.m. and I have just completed every task I need to do so I can hie on off to another adventure. Focus. Focus. Focus. How often we forget that that is all it takes.

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