Tuesday, August 09, 2005

For the Love of Water

This is a picture I took on our blissful ten-day vacation to the Maldives resort Soneva Gili almost three years ago. The water is such a heavenly turquoise blue that I could hardly take my eyes off of it. Even before Maldives however, I have always been in love with water, or at least the idea and fantasy of it. For you see, as much as I love being near water, I am also deeply afraid of any water deeper than my height.

It will probably last all night if I were to tell you all my freaking-out-in-water stories, Jason’s favorite being the time in Phuket when I thought I was drowning while snorkeling off the coast of coral island, despite wearing a life-jacket! The most embarrassing for me though, well actually the two most embarrassing for me are the scuba diving incident in Maldives and the noodle incident at the Great Barrier Reef.

First, Maldives. We went there because our trip to Tibet had to be cancelled due to SARS. All geared up for adventurous travel, I was not content to just lie on a beach for ten days. So I convinced myself that it would be a good idea to spend the time getting our PADI licenses. Not a bad idea, if I knew how to swim (how I learned and then forgot how to swim is a story for another time). To cut a long story short, in our first practical lesson, I panicked when the instructor asked me to take off my goggles in the water (real sea water!). In one horrifying moment, I pulled the breathing apparatus (the one thing that I should’ve hung on to for dear life) out of my mouth and shot straight up to surface. Granted, it was only about 2m deep where we were standing, but to me it felt like a life and death situation. Too shaken, I refused to finish the course. As a result, Jason didn’t get his license either because he said there was no point in doing it alone.

A year later, the Maldives incident behind me, I booked us a trip to a rainforest resort in Queensland, Australia (where Natalie Portman had breakfast less than ten feet from us at the hotel). Missing out on the Great Barrier Reef was simply out of the question, but I knew better to try scuba diving again. So we took a boat trip out to the open sea and went snorkeling. Relaxed and full of confidence the entire boat ride out, as soon as I got into the water, panic struck again. Lucky for me, the boat carried some foam noodles for toddlers (yes, toddlers) to hang on to, and I shamelessly grabbed onto one. With noodle under my arms, I was able to fully enjoy the underwater life of the GBR. We even saw some green sea turtles, the kind in Finding Nemo, and they look even cuter in the flesh.

Since the GBR incident, the nearest I’d been to water was sitting by the pool with a book watching Jason swim. So scarred is my confidence that I hadn’t so much as getting my toes wet in the pool, but it doesn’t stop me from loving the sight of water, which is why I booked another beach holiday for us in September. This time to Langkawi, at The Datai resort.

I had a decision to make. I could either sit by the pool sipping tropical drinks with a good book in hand, or I could try to conquer my fear of water and fully enjoy the pristine beaches. I chose the latter. As of last week, I have joined a second gym, with the sole purpose of learning how to swim. The gym is a 3-min bike ride from my house, leaving me no excuses not to go when Jason takes the car. It offers a variety of free swimming lessons and I intend to take advantage of it fully. One feature of their somewhat unusual pool, however, leaves me wondering whether it’s a good idea to learn swimming there at all: the pool is of my shoulder depth the entire length. The plus side is that I won’t be terrified every time my toes can’t touch the bottom. At the same time, it doesn’t test my limits and I found out when I went to the normal pool at the American Club on Sunday that I still fall to pieces in deep water. My initial goal in taking the swimming lessons was to be able to swim at least one lap (in a normal pool) by the time we get to Langkawi, but with this unexpected set back, I’m not sure how long it will take for me to completely overcome my fear. I might be in this for the long run…


Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Hi Lynn
Well done for coming so far already! Everyone has different fears. Apparemtly more people are afraid of pubic speaking than death!
I think you've done great for taking the steps to address your fear of water. Well done! Rationalising your fears is hard to do but you will get there eventually. A little confidence is all you need... =)

Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Oh dear. What a typo-ridden comment that was! Sorry. Ack. Argh. I spoke about pubic speaking! You know I meant public don't you! lol

Lynn said...

Haha, AG, that certainly put a smile on my face!

You are so right about rationalizing fear! For ex, even though I knew there was no way to sink with a snorkling mask on, it still scared me to death the moment my feet can't touch the sea bed. Thanks for the encouragement. I'll keep at it.

Taro Taylor said...

I came to your blog by way of you leaving a comment on one of my flickr pics.

You seem incredibly brave, because you repeatedly seem to throw yourself into the deep end!!!
However.... In my completely UNprofessional opinion, you have developed a full blown phobia of water and I'm not convinced such a full on, "dive in" approach is best for you!!

I've had friends who had terrible flying and spider phobias. These things are not rational, and must be dealt with in a different way. 2 of my friends went to see NLP (neuro linguistic programming) practitioners and were able to very quickly overcome their phobias.

Anyway I found another link (None NLP method!) with some suggestions to overcoming your fear of water.


Anyway, take what I say with a pinch of salt, but as a waterbaby myself, I really want you to rediscover the joy of the ocean and snorkelling.
Keep smiling and remember you are not alone, there are many people out there with exactly the same fears!!

This is an article about someone whose experiences sound similar to yours.


Also this link link looks useful:
I think this link could be the most useful. This one is referenced in the Palo Alto link above.

P.S I've just been browsing your flickr page home cooked foods!! I'm sooooo hungry now. What beautiful feasts you prepare!!

Lynn said...

Taro, thanks so much for the links. I've browsed through them and wish I could find a similar course in Tokyo... but I think that water exercise can be quite good. For now I'm going to the pool four times a week, spending as much time in water as I can.

You know, the thing that prompted me to sign up for the scuba lesson in the moment of insanity was some underwater photos I saw. I still hope to do that some day.

Your photos are amazing, btw. And you have the same camera. So what's my excuse now? ;o)