2020 has been a difficult year for everyone – much harder for some people and in some areas than others – and probably most of us will be glad to put it behind us. But, 2021 is going to be a much better year for society in general and divers in particular. If you’re a diver, it’s important to think this way because PADI and diving are built on optimism. As American author and activist Helen Keller said, “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to human spirit.”

Ironically, 2020 gives us a lot of reasons to be optimistic about 2021. The world wasn’t ready for COVID, but humanity did what it always does – stepped up. Globally, more than 50 vaccines were developed/are being developed at a pace and on a scale never seen before, without abandoning scientific rigor. Although the pandemic is still spreading rapidly in some areas, we learned (and are still learning) to cope with it, slow it and treat it better. In some areas, transmission is so low that life is almost normal.

But most importantly, in 2020 COVID didn’t stop us from seeking adventure and saving the ocean. We leveraged mobile devices and communication tec to stay connected and engaged with each other and PADI dive shops and resorts. Thousands of divers/soon-to-be divers continued their education with PADI eLearning. Despite travel restrictions, where able and following COVID protocols, thousands of PADI Divers and Pros went (and still are) diving – discovering local diving, participating in Project AWARE eventsstanding together to save the ocean, and participating in PADI training.

With the first vaccines now coming online (and so far proving far more effective than originally hoped), without question we’ll have more ways to be diving and advocating for the oceans in 2021. Beyond PADI courses, PADI Dive Centers and Resorts already have dozens of in-person and virtual dive events planned based on what’s open, available and appropriate where you are. Be sure to check PADI Adventures TM to see what your local PADI dive shop has coming up. Stay plugged in to Project AWARE’s campaigns, and, look for some PADI eLearning holiday promotions to help start the New Year right.

Trend analysts currently project that a sense of normalcy will start to return for many of us around the middle of next year, with the pandemic largely over by the end. But, as I pointed out in April, the main reason to be optimistic about 2021 (and beyond!) is that COVID-19 proves that we can save the oceans. Humanity has stepped up and is turning the tide on a disease threatening all of us. Our responses have not been perfect or uniform by far, but even that is encouraging – because it shows they don’t have to be – they only have to be enough. As PADI Torchbearers like you and me raise the world’s awareness of environmental crises, the pandemic shows that humanity can and will step up to redirect our course to a more favorable future, and we don’t have to do it perfectly. We just have to do it.

As a we look expectantly into 2021, for all of us who love the oceans and are passionate about being their ambassadors, here’s important reminder in the words of radio host Larry Elder: “Optimism. It’s not just a mind-set, it is a behavior.” In other words, we have to put our optimism into action.

Seek adventure. Save the ocean.

Drew Richardson
President & CEO PADI Worldwide

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