Before I became certified to scuba dive my life was much different than it is now. At the time I had just completed another stretch of probation and house arrest. All of my friends were bikers and most of my time was spent in unsavory locations with similar people. It was just a matter of time before I ended up in jail again.
I was not even remotely concerned with other people, their safety, their rights, or anything else about them. People were a genuine obstacle to my goal of self-destruction and they would need to go down if they were in my way. I trusted absolutely no one until they first proved themselves and even then I was still skeptical and guarded. Animals were my only comfort because they are pure instinct and can be easily understood if even the smallest effort is made.
I was a complete enemy of the environment. I washed the grease from my hands in a bucket of gasoline and then dumped it on the ground. My cigarette butts can be found all over this continent and I threw a few in the ocean, rivers, and lakes too. I did as I pleased and could not care less about pollution or garbage.
I did not give a damn about my own health either. I smoked, I drank, I did drugs and just figured that I was not going to live forever so I might as well enjoy what time I had. My Grandfather and Mother both died in front of me due to smoking related diseases, but that still did not deter me. I had multiple embarrassing and legal events due to drinking but continued anyway.
It is nothing short of a miracle the way my life has transformed since I began diving. I stopped drinking in 1995, I stopped smoking in 2007, and things just seem to keep getting better every day. I have met an entirely new and different class of people to associate with and enjoy a safe and healthy activity with them. I have made many truly good friends though this sport and trust my life to them on many of the advanced dives we do together. I have begun to allow myself to trust again and would like to think that others might even trust me too.
I now view people with a different outlook. They are no longer an obstacle in my way but others who are trying to enjoy life just as I am. I make an effort to not cause injury, mental or physical, but rather try to understand and accept. I no longer view differences as a reason to fight or remove from my presence. I still prefer animals over most people and that will probably never change.
I learned a new word too. It is called conservation! I am now appalled by my previous attitude and actions. I am not a “tree hugger” by any means but I have made some serious changes and will now even go so far as to pick trash left by others.
I began to value my health and now consider it my asset. I get annual physicals, go to the dentist regularly, and take better care of myself. I know that I still have a ways to go with diet but I am on the right track.
All of this may seem like no big deal to the average reader of this, but I have not been in trouble with the law in over 20 years, I have not needed to hit another person in anger for the same amount of time, and I now have real friends rather than mere acquaintances. These are monumental achievements in my mind and I am an overall better person today. I look forward to the next 20 years.