Well, I think I’ve finally come to fully accept and truly enjoy this waiting cycle that I’ve been in for some time now. Ever since I can remember I’ve tried to keep myself as busy as possible, so at first the mere thought of a “dead-spot” in my life was quite intimidating, particularly when it’s a dead-spot of unknown length. I started by trying to fill my time with as many productive projects as possible, but as these projects start to run out I became more and more uncomfortable.
“When’s the visa going to come?” “When can I start my career, start making some money?”
But for whatever reason, this last month I’ve really sort of made peace with where I’m at. Which is a bit ironic because my departure date at last seems to be just around the corner. The company’s latest estimate is that I’ll be on a plane for Kyoto within the next couple of weeks. Yahoo.
Still, “making peace with the wait” doesn’t by any means translate to my sitting back and just staring at the wall.
…Actually I did spend a fair amount of time playing through the latest Onimusha game…and some more time catching up on a number of Japanese Dramas I’ve been itching to watch…
But aside from that, I managed to complete a few more of those long-desired projects! The first (if you didn’t guess by now) was scuba.
That’s right, I’m now an official PADI certified Open Water Diver, entitling me to legally dive anywhere in the world until the day I die. I’ve been researching some of the dive sites in Japan, and apparently there’s some spectacular WW2 wreck diving off the coast of Tokyo, tropical diving in Okinawa, and even ice diving in Hokkaido (which would require an add-on certification, but I can get that on-site if need be). Should be a great way to fill up any time I get off of work…and a handy thing to have for any future travels as well.
The process of getting the license was surprisingly painless and enjoyable. Watch a DVD, read a textbook, take a few very simple knowledge tests, and you’re ready to jump in the water. They first start you off with learning the basic skills in the pool – setting up all of your equipment, adjusting your buoyancy, properly weighting yourself, switching to a back-up regulator, etc, etc, etc. The pool portion of the certification process wasn’t the most breathtaking, but certainly more fun than sitting in a lecture hall and learning about how to build transistor logic gates. And it did feel great to finally get in the water. I guess it could be compared to the fun of riding the parking-lot obstacle course when I was training for my motorcycle license…enjoyable, but just not quite the real thing.
The ocean portion of the certification process was, of course, awesome. For those of you who have never been diving, the simple feeling of being weightless underwater is quite an experience in itself. You’ve probably all held your breath and just sat under the surface for a minute or so, but when you’re in the middle of the water column with nothing above you and nothing below you, yet you’re breathing as comfortably as if you were sitting on your livingroom sofa, it really feels like you’re somehow in another world.
Then add in kelp forests as far as the eye can see, two-foot long brightly colored fish swimming right up to your face, craggy rock so covered in spiny purple sea urchins that there isn’t even enough room for your fins, or a giant sea lion swimming playful circles around you, and the effect is truly complete.
Diving kicks ass.
During the certification process we did three coastal dives off of Catalina Island (Avalon Underwater Dive Park) and four boat dives off of one of the smaller Channel Islands, called Anacapa. Each site offered drastically different scenery (i.e. the 4 scenarios above), so even though I was freezing in my 7-mil wetsuit I just couldn’t keep myself out of the water.
Let’s just say that the dive boat’s onboard hot tub felt all that much better as we made our way back to the port in Ventura County 🙂
Unfortunately, I think it was this second weekend of diving that ultimately led to an epic battle with Strep Throat the following week. Having gone out to see Cirque Du Soleil the evening before, I didn’t get to sleep until around 1am. Then I woke up at 4, drove an hour and a half to Ventura, spent an entire day in some pretty cold waters, drove an hour and a half back, cleaned the saltwater off of my gear, and got to bed around 11. That’s one overexerted Justin.
But it was worth it. Because now I’m certified 🙂