At about 15 feet underwater, the world goes quiet. Your internal engine—which feels as if it has been running indefinitely—finally cools.
You are in a new world, a new order. You are vulnerable to the food chain, as ordinary and susceptible as the reef fish beside you and yet soon to become powerful, like a Creator and king. You are free-diving, descending deep on breath-holds. It feels like that dream we’ve all had in which we’re flying—a peaceful exhilaration--or watching a GoPro video on Youtube, except this time you’re in it.
As you slip past the reef walls, you barrel roll into an undersea tunnel like an F-14 jet getting ready to annihilate the enemy. The transition from prey to predator happens in an instant as you make eye contact with nervous lobster that recoil back into their holes.
The hunter within is jolted awake. You’re no longer scanning for threats. You are now scanning for targets. A lifetime of adventure condensed into a two minute breath-hold.
The Rhythms of Power
“Soul cleansing” is how I refer to activities such as free-diving. They are transformational. I can sink into the water stained by stressed, my ability to see what matters occluded, and emerge like a freshly polished sniper scope pointing downrange on a cool morning. Clean. Focused. Deadly.
When I was younger, I made a habit of returning to the water on a regular basis. As I got older and my responsibilities grew, as they do for most of us, I stumbled into the patterns of the average guy. I let myself get too busy for too long. I’d wait to refresh only after the symptoms of my compromised system set in. I’d wait until I felt the heat and pressure of my physical and/or mental health began to fail. I’d wait until boredom consumed me.
Like average guys I began to play the role of a victim. My schedule and commitments were filled with activities that prevented guilt rather than produced power. I did this until I realized that waiting until things were “red hot” was like changing the oil in my car after it had already run out.
I was burning myself out, the damage irreparable. And I didn’t even know it. I was drowning without any water. Now, I am older and a bit wiser. I no longer wait until I feel the damaging heat of life. I am no longer a victim. I am a man a mission, with a purpose beyond myself. Allowing myself to burnout is both unacceptable and irresponsible.
As I write this, I sit by the sea in my favorite dive bar, preparing for our sea excursion. A thick marine layer sits next to me using the sun-rays to signal its intended departure for the day. The salt air has been seasoned with just the right amount of diesel exhaust to pull in other men of the sea from distant places to reset and find adventure.
There is no place on the planet more dynamic, dangerous, difficult, beautiful, or inspiring than the sea. It does something to men that is both indescribable and irreplicable. It draws in the brave and adventurous and repels the timid. At its core, it is what separates SEALs from all other Special Forces and this brotherhood from others.
I'll see you in the water.