“It was the best of times, It was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” ~A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, English novelist (1812-1870)
By Micha Banschick
Why is scuba-diving the best of times – the most stimulating experience I have ever had? Maybe it is the sensation of swimming in an enormous expanse of sea water, or perhaps the exotically bizarre undersea wildlife, or just the profound fact of breathing underwater. All and all, the vast ocean is extraordinary to explore.
Floating through a wall of blue takes away any sign of tension from the body. In fact, swimming relaxes the nerves and muscles like nothing else. The sea is nothing like New York city; instead of a 90% chance of breaking the eardrum there is next to no sound at all. It’s like taking a yoga class without the leg formations. In reality, most people use the sound of the ocean to calm themselves down. The reason is that swimming in an almost unending tub of water is undoubtedly soothing in every way. The sense of water touching skin brings a thought to mind. Because water is tangible, it lets you do things that you can’t do in the air. Try to jump in the air and catch it, you will immediately fall back to the ground. But when you jump in the water, you actually stay up and float as long as you have air in your lungs. The force of kicking the water beneath you pushes you up, and when you are up, you stay up and can sway your hand across the water feeling its cold texture.
The ocean is not a deserted piece of water. The ocean is, in fact, home to millions of fish. Actually, there is more life under the sea surface than above it. We humans have only discovered part of it. It’s amazing to realize how much happens under the water while we live our every day lives. There are living things in the water, that do not move, like coral. Coral are colonies of tiny animals. They look like trees. The ocean would not be the same without coral. They give the ocean a green aura, which is full of life. There are however, many creatures that move in the water. They come in lots of shapes, sizes, and species. Many of them are very colorful, like the clownfish, which looks like a zebra except that it is orange with white stripes. The lionfish has stripes and also spikes that look like a mane. Some creatures are predatorial, like sharks. Other creatures like dolphins, are strong, friendly, but deadly if attacked, especially when they are in packs.
Fish are very different from human beings. The fact that fish live in the sea and people live on land, creates a huge difference. It’s hard to even think that, according to science, somewhere along the line we originated from fish. But what really separates fish from man is that they have gills which enables them to breathe underwater while we have lungs which allow us to breathe the fresh outside air. However, having lungs also does not allow us to breathe in water. Being human, we have a natural curiosity for everything from the smallest cells to the outstretches of the universe. This curiosity led humans to solve over time the mystery of how to breathe underwater and to invent the regulator. The regulator brings oxygen from the oxygen tank to your mouth. It lets you breathe in the sea and explore its depths. Before this magnificent gadget was invented, people didn’t know what it felt like to breathe slowly while watching small bubbles float up to the surface or to hear the calming sound of oxygen rushing to the regulator and out again. Having the ability to breathe under water also gives a sense of power and control which is very comforting. Not to mention that it allows you to see the wonderful sight of the colors of the rainbow separating in the deeper water and the light reflecting from the water and creating a shine, which can never be seen on land.
Scuba diving is an experience unlike most others because scuba diving is seeing and doing things that are beyond human nature, or, as some would say, outsmarting human nature. The beauty beneath the water is not meant for the natural human eye. However, anyone who has ever scuba dived would say it’s worth the trouble of donning heavy but enabling gear. It opens the eye to nature’s wonders, not only mentally, but also spiritually. The absolute thrill of descending into a great abyss and viewing the creatures most people are not privileged to see is amazing. Finally, when grasping a regulator, it makes you think about the great accomplishment of man that rests in your hands. For me, that best of times is never far away.
Micah Banschick, 13, is a 7th grader currently living in Jerusalem where he is homeschooled by his mother and Dr. Bob Gallagher, an online tutor. To enrich his education, Micah writes essays about his experiences in Israel. The Best of Times documents his love for Scuba Diving. He is PADI certified. When in the USA, Micah attends the Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford, Connecticut.