When I was a baby cave diver, learning that the environment was amazing (as opposed to what I what originally figured it would be... which was boring and/or terrifying) I remember hearing about this "Sheck Exley Safety Award."
1000 safe cave dives.
"Who in the crimson fuck has 1000 dives?!?! Much less 1000 CAVE dives?" I thought. It seemed like timeless madness.
Well. Turns out I don't know how many actual dives I have. Best guess... something in the range of 5000? Probably? Last I checked was in Hawaii more than 10 years ago and it was about 2000. I slowed down quite a bit back in NY. But over the last few years at XOC-Ha I'm probably somewhere in the range of ~300/year. Maybe? I dunno.
I stopped counting when I hit 1000 cave dives. Because I thought it would be neat to hang this on a wall somewhere.
But when I actually hit the 1000 it took me more than a year to actually send in the paperwork. Because I knew. And what would a paper add?
And when it was processed our friend Mar Ina picked it up for me at the NSS-CDS conference. And we've somehow managed to keep missing eachother for almost a year.
But I bumped into her this evening at the fill station and managed to catch up with her for about an hour and half. And actually, finally, got the award I thought - oh, so long ago - would be neat to have on a wall. That she's kept in her truck all this time. Just in case we bumped into eachother.
Now I've got it.
Maybe I'll get it framed sometime within a year.
And then, within two, it might actually get hung up somewhere.
Awards don't actually mean anything. There are no trophies or winners in diving (beyond "getting yourself and your entire team back safe and happy"). Anyone who pretends to be "best" at diving or, what's more, that such a thing would ever matter at all to anyone anywhere is a fucking idiot.
It's just looking at pretty things.
The pretty things are the only things that matter.