Monday, April 25, 2011

Breathing Underwater: Guest Blogger Kyle Scanlon

Photo courtesty of Atmo at Wildquest
I love how quickly things can come together when they are meant to be.

I am so excited to share someone with you. Kyle is a community worker in downtown Toronto. What first impressed me with Kyle is that he not only gives of himself, but also
to himself.

A few years ago I accepted that "Love your neighbor, as Yourself" truly means- love yourself the same as you love everyone else.

I used to shine all of my light out, never taking any for myself-
and seeing this in others has inspired my passion to 'help helpers'.

Kyle's commitment to a yearly trip (last year he went to Rwanda to see gorilla's in the wild!) that feeds his soul- partnered with his contribution to his community made me want to share, share, share him.

He has graciously offered this learning piece- Thank You Kyle, as the week in Bimini progressed Kyle proved to be a gentle, fun and deep thinking soul. Here is what he took home from our trip to Bimini:

In Bimini, I expected to see dolphins, but I found so much more.

On Day 1 of my trip to swim with wild dolphins in the Bahamas, I found myself in a torturous position - my face planted solidly into water while I tried to breathe.

Yes, I had a snorkel to use, but my brain and my body both agreed that breathing underwater was simply a bad idea. As I tried to force myself to take slow deep breaths through the snorkel, I continually began to hyperventilate, and panic, and I would have to lift my head up out of the water and relax before trying it all over again and again.

It was incredibly frustrating. Dolphins were swimming with us, below us, and all around us, but I was caught up in my state of panic and could barely appreciate the presence of the dolphins.

After panicking, I then made matters worse by berating myself for my inability to overcome my fear. That too distracted me from any chance to appreciate the experience of having so many dolphins so close. I wondered later in my room, "Would the entire trip be a waste because of my fear?"

But in the following days, I soldiered on, every day at every opportunity, I would willingly put on the mask and snorkel and drop down into the ocean with my head underwater and panic all over again. Each day I fought myself because I knew there was a chance of seeing dolphins again and I was not going to miss out again. I would be ready.

Day 5 - our last day - brought us up close and personal with a pod of bottle nose dolphins and finally I was able to let go of the panic and simply breathe deeply and calmly, and watch the dolphins dive to feed.

One dolphin came up to me at eye level and slowly circled me. I circled with her, keeping eye contact. It was incredible to be in her gaze, to really share the ocean with her, to join her in her element.

This process, I realized, was a metaphor for life. We must sometimes conquer our demons in order to experience beauty and wonder.

When I face future adversities, I will reflect back on my time with the dolphins and how I had to learn to breathe in water, and I'll know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to because of my determination and strength of spirit.

I'll know that wondrous things await, so long as I have the patience and courage to persevere.

Fear can be a gateway to something special, but only if you don't let yourself be held captive by it. That's what the dolphins taught me.

Thank you, dolphins.


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