• Roger

Nothing is Good This Year, Even on Christmas

I've got nothing on my mind.


I don't mean, "I'm not thinking about anything." I mean, "I'm thinking about nothing."

Lots of folks are doing nothing today. Talked to some friends last night who had made extremely deliberate and diligent plans to do nothing today.


Whether one celebrates Christmas or not, odds are good that you've got the day off and, since there isn't much open, there's not a lot of somethings to choose from to do. If you do celebrate Christmas, unless you're the one who does the big cook-up, then you're probably doing nothing more than playing with your new Red Rider BB gun and waiting for dinner. Or just staring at your phone and generally doing nothing.


But there's a bigger aspect, even a healthy aspect of nothing.


You know those folks who meditate. Know what you're supposed to meditate on? Nothing. One is supposed to clear the mind of stresses and emotions and thoughts, let the mind be blank and unencumbered. In theory this is restorative.


Not everyone meditates, but we've all got some sort of happy place where we can free our minds. Some people run or swim or cycle. Some fish or hunt or hike. Work on an old car. Build models. Woodwork or metalwork. Rock climbing. Stamp collecting. Whateverthefuck. We all have something we enjoy where we can zone out, stare absently at the vast landscape or some fine detail, relax, and be at peace.


Obviously, for me... presumably for many of the folks who read anything I write, it's diving.


And with that we can dive (pun only partially intended) even deeper into nothing.


The whole point of diving is to do nothing. At the very least, the most effective way of doing absolutely anything as a diver is to start by doing nothing.


Float.


I have often said that all of diving, at every recreational level, from a 30' reef bimble to the most extreme tech dive conceivable, is simply floating and looking at cool stuff. Ideally that floating should be effortless.


The catch is that it takes a lot of work for it to BE effortless. Training, time, practice, and experience.


This is obvious if you're talking about a rebreather, several stage bailout bottles, a scooter, a tow scooter... getting all that crap strapped to yourself and then being able to, at any moment in the dive, stop on a dime and float motionless in the water... you work up to that.

But even with a single tank on your back. Or just a set of doubles or sidemount tanks.


Even in the configuration you've been diving for the last however-many years... can you honestly say that you can stop dead at an instant's notice, holding perfectly flat trim, and without moving a single muscle nor flicking a fin-tip, not move an inch in the water up-down-forward-backward-left-or -right? Can you hold that precise point in the water indefinitely? Without concentrating all your effort and will into the exercise?


When I say I'm thinking about nothing... that's what I mean. That's some next level "doing nothing."


There are entire classes dedicated to doing nothing. That is basically the entire curriculum of the GUE Fundamentals class. Classes like IANTD's Essentials or TDI's Intro to Tech are frequently used this way. To help divers achieve nothing.


My answer to the frequently asked, "What can I do to prepare for class," is "If you can get some diving in, focus on trim and buoyancy and holding position in the water with a minimum of movement." Because it's less of a zen-koan, puzzle of an answer than, "You can do nothing."


There's a reason the above listed are build-up classes to more advanced learning, that they are so essential or fundamental (depending on your certifying agency), that being able to do nothing is so critical. Because if you can hold perfectly still in the water... everything else gets really easy really quickly.


Cave skills like running a jump... ocean skills like shooting a bag... advanced skills like gas switches... emergency procedures like managing a failed valve... team communications... additional gear management like a bunch of tanks and scooters... all of it becomes easier to the point of perfectible. But none of this can be perfected if you are incapable of nothing. ( <-- Yeah, it sounds like a double-negative, but it isn't.)


As a lifelong, committed slacker I am very pleased to have found a profession where I spend huge swathes of time helping people with nothing.


And here we are, on a day where loads of people are enjoying the fact that they are doing nothing. I invite you to join me in also thinking about doing nothing. Meditate on it, if you like.


You don't have to say it out loud, but be honest with yourself: can you really, truly do nothing?


If not? - Might be a gear thing? Maybe some weights need to be moved around. Maybe some different fins would be better for you. Or maybe your tanks need to be moved up or down your back. - Might be a technique thing? Maybe you need to bend or straighten your knees. Or arch your back a little more or less. Maybe you just need to push your shoulders down and arch your neck more. - Might be some old habits? Like hand finning without noticing. Or keeping too much or too little gas in your wing. Or simply not focusing long enough or recently enough to turn it all into thoughtless second nature. - Might even just be lack of exposure? Like you've just never had someone point out something like "You're dropping your knees." Or had a buddy gopro you while you try to hold still.


If your privately honest answer is, "Yeah, I am jealous of people who can hold still like that." Well, there's a great many folks out there who can help you get to that place. Chances are that if it's something you are clear-eyed enough to take seriously... then you've got it in you to do it.


On the other hand, if you're perfectly content to flail your way through the water like some sort of break-dancing cartoon octopus... may I suggest stamp-collecting as a safer alternative to nothing for you?


Whatever you decide to do, it doesn't really matter. Because remember: nothing is best.


Now, for the rest of the day, or when you're trying to tone out the borderline-insane ramblings of your drunk uncle over dinner tonight, if anyone asks what you're thinking about you can answer very honestly: "Nothing."



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