By Mark Young
A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.
~Edward de Bono
During a business trip to Florida I wound up near where I used to live, and stopped into a small airport where I kept a plane for a quite a while. I’m not quite sure, after nearly 20 years, why I decided to visit the flight center where I was based, but it called me back.
I’m guessing that the flight instructor behind the counter was in diapers when I was a customer there. We had a great conversation and some laughs, me sharing stories about how the place was, she telling how it is, and the old wooden flight center felt like home. Just the smell of the place summoned fond memories, and the experience was nicely nostalgic.
It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time. What from today will cause you to look back tomorrow and smile? You might just be in that place; you were probably introduced to this magazine at your local dive center and someday that store, the people you meet there and the experiences that you collect might mark a considerable time of your life. Most store owners and dive instructors are in this business to pass on to you what has such importance to them, so connecting you to diving, and a lot of great things to remember, should be natural. But sometimes even important things need a solid introduction to help them stick.
I mention this because of how the initial introduction to diving has changed. Not many years ago, people who learned to dive went through about 40 hours of face-to-face instruction. That amount of classroom and pool time allowed instructors and students to get to know one another, and a provided good conduit for the passion of diving to transfer. At some point, the industry decided that so much of a commitment to scheduled time was limiting participation, so they set out to shorten it with home study options to attract more people. As a result, some of today’s students may not spend as much time with an instructor outside of the pool sessions. But are they missing an important connection? Did we abbreviate ourselves out of the bonding that comes with spending time?
I wondered about that as I read this issue’s Instructor Tips column about the positive learning effects of instructor storytelling. It’s a reminder that much of learning happens outside the lines of a book or the glare of a screen. Observing that young flight instructor, I imagined how well she must be bonding her students to the excitement and the possibilities of aviation. I thought of her importance as a mentor, and her ability to inspire her students through the emotional desert of dry textural material.
I remember that learning to dive was an escape from my cubicled world; not a drag at all. Learning doesn’t just involve what you know; it inspires what you do with what you know. It is the emotional, not textural information that forms the strongest attachment. There is terrific benefit to being surrounded early on by the diving environment, the enthusiasm of a good instructor and sharing the excitement, anticipation and even some of the apprehension with other people who are learning too.
We in the industry want to connect you. It is important for you to help establish the connection too, especially if you don’t feel that it exists for you as it should. You don’t want to let this experience unhappen. Stop by your dive center to linger a while, and you might just find yourself stopping back in 20 years, and finding memories.