Midnight on the water
I saw the oceans daughter
Walkn'on a wave she came
Staring as she called my name
And I can't get it out of my head
No, I can't get it out of my head
Now my old world is gone for dead
'Cos I can't get it out of my head
-Electric Light Orchestra
Benchley called his brother to tell what had happened to him and to ask a favor. The story is that Bench’s friends were going to the Caribbean and asked if he wanted to come along. He had to get certified, though, because they were going there to dive. Bench kind of always wanted to do that so he took lessons and a month later was with his buddies in the sun having a great time. He did his checkout dives at the resort and told George how he spent the rest of the week doing the most incredible stuff.
The question for George was more like a plea.“I’m going back. You have to get certified and come. I promise you’ll love it because you’re like me. You can’t say no. Leesy too.”
It’s George’s wife Lisa telling me this on the phone. She and George had talked about diving. They like outdoors stuff but the conversations about taking up diving usually stopped with her and a halfhearted, “Yes we should.” The conversation wasn’t going to end there this time. Bench had dragged Lisa and George off on other adventures and they were always fun, especially when he brought along his eternal fiancée (of seven years) who they all loved and rounded out the foursome. She had agreed to be certified too. There was no saying no.
Lisa went on. “I don’t know why I always managed to put it off, whether it was the money or maybe I was a little chicken about doing it — it was easier to shine it on. But we did it. We found a dive store that we didn’t know was here and our class had two other couples and two other guys. There were eight of us and by the second class we were comfortable with each other, and by the end we were at the bars and having a great time together. We became good friends. Diving was our common bond. But that’s not why I’m calling.”
She was calling to say they went off on their adventure with Bench, and that her life hasn’t been the same. She fell in love with the sea. She hasn’t been able get that phrase out of her head from the song by the Electric Light Orchestra. “They were singing about me, the ocean’s daughter. And how odd the title of the song, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” because that’s how I’ve been; profoundly changed. I asked her if George became the same way and she said no, that would be impossible. He loves it too but she’s gone nuts.
Most people come into diving pretty unaware. Blank slates, if you will. They know little about the equipment they will be using, are certainly unfamiliar with the skills and knowledge, and I contend that most new divers have never heard of the island of Bonaire. From the minute they first walk in, diving becomes a total learning experience.
The education goes past the bookwork and skills, to way beyond what they think this will be. New divers are soon to find out more than they know about the world’s history, geography and its people. They will learn some oceanography and lots about marine life and diving’s environments. But when they swim alongside of something alive and the size of a bus, or a wall that descends thousands of feet beyond unlimited visibility, they learn quite a lot about themselves. Prior personal experience and their very familiar world expand past something that they have imagined, to discover that it’s more. For many the observance and appreciation of nature on the scale where divers are privileged to be will become deeply personal. What is really coming in the way of learning, for the new diver, is often unexpected. Sometimes quite unexpected.
She called not just to tell me all that, but to ask if we could write something powerful that would entice other Lisas who are on the fence to give this a try. I believe she just did.