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Vanity on Full Display

The stack of C-cards which got really big really fast and then slowed as the years wore on was all stored in the cordura binder of my original logbook. They just sat there, in the dark.

A four-inch tall pile of plastic chips - most of them redundant - that I never look at or think about.

Then I got these picture frames. Had cause to order one for something else... but it cost just as much ($5) to order five of them.

I've been on a kick, you see, of mounting or displaying all the old bric-a-brac and garbage I've carried around with me over the years. I've moved an awful lot, you see, so most of my keepsakes have, by habit, always simply lived in boxes that have gone with me from place to place. But I've been here, in Mexico, longer than anywhere else I can remember since my childhood home. Maybe it's time to admit that there's roots here?

And then I've got these extra picture frames...

I thought it might be funny to fill one of them with all my useless instructor cards... the shit that I've never issued a single certification for. All the "boat diver instructor" and "marine wildlife identification" and such. So I got out my old, tattered binder...

And as I started sifting through for the dumb ones I found that when I held others my head would be full of memories.

The Night Diver class when the work buddy I'd talked into learning how to scuba dive and I, with maybe 30 dives combined between the two of us, got separated from the group and scared the fuck out of the instructor.

How my Advanced Nitrox card was the only one that rode in my wallet for so many years.

The pride of getting a CCR Cave card like that imbued me with superpowers.

The annoyance of having to cross-over to certain agencies to work.

The hundreds of first aid classes I've taught.

And ever so slowly... my cynicism cracked.

It isn't just a four inch stack of rubbish. It's the resume of half a lifetime spent doing something... something idiotic, yes... but something that's been so meaningful and so fulfilling to me and the people I've been lucky enough to cross pathes.

A flight of whimsy that became a hobby that became a passion that became a career. My wife, my home, my job... they all sprang from that moment I thought, "I should get my scuba licence."

I've got a lot of scuba licenceses now. So many of them represent weeks or months or more of my life working and sweating and worrying and getting the crap kicked out of me in a variety of ways. So many of them represent thousands or more dollars spent trying to learn how to do something stupid better or teach people how to do something stupid.

Each of them represents a step in the path - my path. Plastic paving stones leading to XOC-Ha. Each of them a font of memories.

The project evolved, as I thumbed through them, from "frame full of moronic cards" to "moronic cards as a backdrop to one or two meaningful cards" to "mostly meaningful cards" to, finally, "there's no room really for bullshit cards except to fill in a little square of space here and one here... and also I need a second frame."

I'm glad they're not sitting in the dark in a binder anymore. I hung them in the garage. So now they can fade into the background in a different format and I can go back to ignoring all those rich, glorious memories again, but up on a wall now.

Because it's just as hard to appreciate things you see every day as the things you never see.

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