How One Woman Began Her Journey With Women Who Explore with a Scuba Diving Trip to Iceland
I stood there shaking.
I’m not sure if it was from the cold, the chill of the ground had seeped through the rubber of the dive boots and instilled a chill that I just couldn’t shake. Or if it was from the rising anxiety I felt since the moment I had squeezed my head through the dry suit’s tiny opening and felt the rubberized collar press against my neck.
As I stood on the freezing asphalt of a parking lot- about to go snorkelling with a group of women I had only met a few days prior in Iceland’s Thingvellir national park. I laughed to myself about the strangeness of it all.
It’s not that this wouldn’t have been out of character for me years ago. Adventure and new experiences had been something I relished in. I loved the risk of the new.
That moment when you say “yes” when “no” is the more reasonable answer was one of my favourite moments. Where your breath catches and for a heartbeat, you think, “am I nuts?!?”
But, life changes and I had fallen into the comfortable routine of putting myself on the back burner and had shelved adventure in exchange for the busyness of life. I had found 1,000 reasons for why “right now isn’t a good time,” or why, whatever “it” was, was too far, too long, too inconvenient and maybe deep down- too scary.
I’m definitely shaking from cold- I tell myself as I do some sort of jig in the morning air to stay warm. I look around at the other women and wonder if the nervousness registers on my face. I wonder if the feeling of “what am I doing here?!” is stamped across my forehead- because it certainly feels that way.
I turn to a friend, we had met Friday, but that’s the amazing part of a strange journey, strangers become friends, and I make a joke about how does a boring mom of three ends up doing this? We laugh and in the cold morning air, our breath looks like smoke. “This isn’t exactly something I’d do either,” she responds.
Yet, here we are.
Something called to us. That strange whisper of “you can, you should,” persisted and here we were, saying yes to things.
And it started with the first step. “Babe, I think I want to go to Iceland Women Who Explore.” “Huh, I mean okay?” My husband says with a confused smile. We both knew that big adventures, anything, where I’d be away too long from the kids, was not going to happen. A big dream, a declaration of a want not realized because of guilt, and practical logistics and (yes, fear.)
The unknown had become more foreign than ever, it had become murky and scary. I busily bounded between hockey practice and school lunches and substitute teaching and adventure and new and scary had slipped silently out of my life- without me even really noticing.
I don’t know what compelled me. Maybe it was that my kids were a little older, out of the baby stage that made it seem less like madness. Or, maybe- come on! it’s Iceland.
Or maybe it was the old familiar want- that had somehow made itself known. Or maybe it was knowing I wouldn’t be alone.
That’s what I keep thinking as we huddle inside the back of a mini-semi converted into a warming hut/changing room/ dry suit storage. I’m so glad I’m not alone. I look around at the group of women, who I’m sure are feeling like I do.
There was a moment before we all half walked, half awkwardly waddled into the warming hut where I was sure that I was definitely shaking from nerves. The cold seemed like an afterthought as the guides tightened what they playfully but also truthfully called a “choker” around my neck. “It’s to keep the water out” she assures me then jokingly adds, “ the safe word is pineapple.” As she tightens it around my already impossibly tight collar and hood “pineapple!” “pineapple!” I imagine myself yelling.
Instead, I look to the women around me and make a face to lighten the moment- and we all smile.
That’s when I decide that being afraid is good. We are all united in this. That’s shivering from cold and shaking from nerves is more than just this moment.
It is all of us. It’s being scared and having a million reasons to say no but instead listening to the one that says “yes.”
Life isn’t a series of comfortable decisions.
My flippers are on. The water is crystal clear and in just two more steps I’ll be submerged. My heart is racing. But the fear is gone.
As the water rushes over me so does a feeling of immense joy and pride
We did it. I did it. And who knows what adventures lie ahead.