What I Said to the Dalai Lama
Well, not yet! But much to my delight, my May trip to Dharamsala with Street School Journeys inclides the possibility of meeting him if he is in residence and it suddenly struck me that I need to have something to say…because I suspect, “Howzit!”, won’t cut it. Nor will, “Thank You!” And I guess he gets a lot of, “I am your biggest fan”, so what do I say should I meet the DL himself ?
Perhaps I should say, ” Thank You for your words, they got me a world record!” Because they did. It took me 2 years to get from 186m (the cave and altitude world record) to 221 and the all time reecord because I was petrified of my build up dive.
A quick history of how I dived – I always made sure that before I did a new depth, I had done a dive that has the equavalent decompression. This made sense for me because then the only unknown would be the depth – I would have already proved I could manage the physiological impact. The problem was the only place to get an equivalent dive was at Badgat, a flooded asbestos mine…and the only place in there to find anything sub 100m was after a 3min swim at 100m and then a 6 to 8 min swim down a narrow decline shaft which petrified me! A handful of people have been down that incline, only one had ever gone to the end. It is narrow and silty and the perfect trap for a deep cave diver. It is also far away from help. If something goes wrong there, you solve it yourself or you stay there until they can find someone who can retrieve your body.
I tried that dive (to a mere 160m, so not even deep), 6 times, most times turning around before I did the swim into the dark tunnel. There was just something about that dive – it petrified me beyond reason. Turns out I was right to be petrified if that dive – it almost killed me! On my last attempt to reach 165m I became stuck on the guide line at 152m. I almost didn’t make it back. The only way I had even found the courage to get into the water was reading How to Die and Live a Better Life. Somewhere in that book, as I read it leading up to dive day, I finally made peace with my biggest fear – dying. I remembered the sense of calm as I read. I remember putting the book down in my tent and spending the day before the dive laughing and doing those last minute things that always need to be done. I remember the perfect balance of fear and faith as I dived and then, when I realized I was stuck and that this might be the dive that killed me, I remember the calm! No fear! Just calm! It would have been easy to die there, it was more difficult to live – that took effort. For some reason I chose to live and 4 months later I had the Guinness World Record.
I made it out, 7 minutes late with practically no gas to breathe and 20min of diving to get done before my backup gas could be reached and I knew, just knew that 221m was mine! There was no longer anything to fear.
Without the Dalai Lama I wouldn’t have found my courage to live, really live – to do even though I lived in fear! It is a lesson I am reliving as I realise that my next biggest fear that I have been avoiding isn’t death, it is rejection. It is loosing everything and everyone by being my self and once again, imagining the DL himself is some how there, holding the space, helping me find the balance again. Because you have to accept that fear before you can really live and that is what I learnt from the Dalai Lama.
So perhaps when I meet him I will say, “Thank You for holding the space! Thank you for being a light that helped me find my way into a greater life. Thanks for helping me find a way tobalance fear with desire and joy and dreams! Thanks for my world record and for making me laugh on those days where it all seems to hard! And Thanks for showing me that fear can be accepted without giving in to it!” Maybe! We will see! Words have a way of finding themselves in these moments!
What would you say to the DL himself if one day you got to meet him ?