The Other Side Of The Window

If, a couple of weeks ago, you had asked me to list activities I enjoy, I’m not sure that I would have thought to put “breathing” on the list.

But, you know, I do enjoy breathing. Like, a lot.

A couple of weeks ago, I went scuba diving. This was another of my Living Social adventures; I got a half-price deal on an introductory scuba class, complete with a brief dive. The class was uneventful. The dive was … interesting.

The class and dive were through Better Diver in Madison, Ala., and I cannot speak highly enough of how professionally everything was handled.

The dive was at the tank at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where it’s used for Space Camp. NASA uses large water tanks for astronaut training — the underwater buoyancy simulates the weightless conditions of space. I’ve seen the tank many a time, peeking in through the side window at divers inside. It was a neat experience actually going into one of the few Space Camp facilities I’d seen many times but never used first-hand.

So, like I said, the big take-away of the experience for me — I like breathing.

It was amazing how complex the process of breathing was for me. Remembering how to breathe in, how to breathe out, how to exhale into the mask to clear out water. For quite a while, I didn’t think I would be able to do it. We had a brief orientation on a platform at the top of the tank before the dive proper, and I kept having to surface. For quite a while, I thought I would be unable to actually get to the point where I would have the confidence to go all the way under. (In my defense, I have mild issues with breathing. Like many things I do, I do it fine, just a bit off-nominally.) Even after I finally got it relatively mastered, I was still aware of breathing the whole time I was under. For the last part of the time, my attention was largely focused on how much I was looking forward to surfacing and breathing real fresh air that wasn’t out of a can.

Beyond that — I still stink at non-Earth-standard gravitational regimes. The high-bouyancy environment was interesting. I slam-dunked a bowling ball, which I can’t usually do. I tend to demonstrate fairly two-dimensional thinking. My head usually stayed pretty much vertically above my feet.

It was cool that it was in the Space Camp tank, since it meant that there was a space connection and flavor to the dive. I got to try out the spacecraft equipment simulator, which was fun.

I don’t know that it’s something that I’m in any great hurry to do again, but it’s definitely something that I’m glad that I did, definitely an experience that I’m glad that I have.

And, if nothing else, it was worth every time to look through that window, finally, from the other side.