If I could count on my hands, the number of times people have asked me why I want to do technical diving, I’d need to use my toes! The reasons to not do it are apparently many:
- Why do you want the added risk?
- Diving is all about fun. Why would I want to dive if I have to pay attention to all these extra little details?
- What’s the point? A wreck at 60ft isn’t that different than a wreck at 160ft. Plus, all the good stuff is shallow.
- It’s too expensive!
And so on.
While I can’t speak to the reasons others in the technical diving community do what they do, I can speak for myself and, I imagine that a few of my reasons will be shared by others.
While scuba diving in cold water with heavy gear is no doubt a physical activity, for me it is also overwhelmingly mental. It requires I remain calm under pressure. It asks that I maintain a level head. It pushes me to pay attention to the smallest details, details that relate both to myself and to others, and it forces me to face some of my deepest fears.
That last part is key.
When I dive, I face my fears. More than that, I push myself to new levels of personal achievement. I am not talking about doing a daring deep dive, or an ego-driven wreck dive, I’m talking about pushing oneself to the next level, not unlike an athlete does in training. Afterall, to become a faster runner, you have to push yourself to run faster, if not daily, weekly. Scuba diving is my “running,” not least because it involves being in control of so many different factors, a challenge I have grown to relish. In fact, some of my best dives were the ones that felt the worst because I had to push through some sort of fear, or maintain control and a level head. Those were the real successes.
Thus, technical diving is a level up for me, an additional mental challenge. A way to force myself to become a better diver, to remain calm and level-headed under additional pressure, to get better at dive planning, at risk assessment, at assessing my own mental state and the states of those around me.
This ties into the second reason I do it. To learn. Growing up, my parents always encouraged a sense of curiosity. They were academics and so, questioned everything. They taught me to do the same thing. Keep learning. Keep exploring. There is no limit until you impose that limit on your own mind. Thus, to stick to what is known has never been possible for me. I always want to know more. Once I had learned to dive, I wanted to learn to dive better. This led from Open Water to Advanced, from Advanced to Rescue, from Rescue to Divemaster. And so it goes.
And finally, there is the pure joy of diving. I dive because I love to dive. I love dipping beneath the water and encountering a world I could not even have imagined. I love the unpredictability that yes, also terrifies me. I love the life I encounter. I love the feeling of being in the water. I love that I get to meet so many people. I love the obsessive nature of other fellow divers. Technical diving doesn’t just open up another world of diving to me, but it opens up more opportunities. Perhaps things I will want to consider in the future: rebreather diving, cave diving, deep wreck diving.
If you ask me, the more pertinent question is why on earth wouldn’t you want to do technical diving?