Like a lot of us, as a young child I fantasized being a superhero. Inspired by comic books and television, I dreamed of having extraordinary abilities like flying (sans airplane), superhuman strength, seeing what others can’t see and so on. Beyond this, I pictured myself using these superpowers for good, swooping in to save the day. I’d bet most of us have had thoughts like these.

Superpowers Made Real

When you think about it, diving wonderfully and surprisingly makes these fantasies come true. Our suits look like they come straight out of Marvel, DC or Pixar (but no capes, thank you Edna Mode), and gearing up, we transform from our “secret identities” into people with extraordinary powers. We fly through the underwater world, and thanks to buoyancy, we pick up heavy objects with ease. Unlike mere mortals, we see clearly and breathe underwater. Or, hold we our breaths so long that “ordinary” humans sometimes worry about how long we’ve been down. We can even become mermaids

But, diving has less obvious superpowers that are, in my opinion, more important and significant because they make us better people.

marine life hand signals underwater communication

Personal transformation – Diving transforms us because there is so much living attached to the diving experience. Diving reflects our inner selves and our love of the underwater world and its inhabitants. It drives us to the deeper purposes of sharing diving with others, for their own transformations and so they join us in protecting the underwater world.

Growth and experience – Diving brings out the best in us because in our travels, we discover new magical places, people and cultures. It gives us “x-ray vision” as we learn to see what’s inside instead of appearances. Diving is a bit of a rebellion against human congestion, rewarding us with purposes and delighting us with the sights and sounds of the sea. It heals damaged spirits and frees us from physical challenges, motivating us to share diving with people who want such healing– in other words, practically everyone.

a scuba diver looks up towards the surface in a a clear blue sea

Humility and wisdom – Diving is humbling. Underwater, we’re vulnerable and depend on our gear, training and skills. We’re task-loaded equalizing, reading our computers, controlling our buoyancy, staying tight with our buddies and keeping calm while embracing what’s around us. Our dives are brief, but out of the billions of people on Earth, we are the handful who see nature at work 24-7, giving life to all of us. We are also the ones who see that the oceans have never been more dependent on prioritizing decisions and actions to protect it. Witnessing this codependence, we realize we have choices, and that we must act.

Reconnection with nature – In 2005, author Richard Louv coined the term nature-deficit disorder to explain the costs of human separation from the natural world. Studies suggest that urban people are indoors as much as 90% of the time and average 6 hours+ daily screen time, with some finding 11+ hours. It is damaging. For example, recent studies link excessive screen time with child development delays. As divers, we understand that nature and humanity are inseparable. We are in, and part of, the natural world while diving. When we share diving and help others restore this connection with nature, it is healing for them and the ocean.

two divers collect debris trash underwater

Power and scale – As those who see the need to protect the ocean first-hand, divers have a united super strength for constructive action that contributes to a better future. We realize that no one of us can save the world, but all of us saving a small piece of it can. The PADI diving community is huge, a juggernaut force for good that, through our united individual actions, scales into tremendous power for influence and change. World leaders listen to us, and our collective personal measures as Ocean Torchbearers not only can, but already do make a difference. When we realize that every constructive action – no matter how small – contributes to the whole for a better future, the dive community is monumental and positive force for restoring and protecting the ocean, both locally and internationally. 

Inspiration – Diving inspires us to seek adventure and save the ocean. We dive because we love to, we love the underwater world and we love that diving gives back more than it demands. It’s a “love story” that transforms us with growth and experience, develops our humility, reconnects us with nature and unites our strength. Diving inspires us to share diving with others, knowing that it will make a difference in their personal lives and in the ocean’s health.

In other words, while it’s amazing that diving enables us to wear cool suits, fly and breathe underwater, through diving we literally improve people’s lives and literally help save the world. 

That’s what superheroes do.

Seek adventure. Save the ocean.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

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