More than two years into the pandemic and it’s still influencing our lives, upending plans and jostling our expectations. Just when things look like they’re becoming more normal, it flares up again in some new way, place, or form. It’s tiring, and I’ll bet you feel “pandemic fatigue” from time to time. I know I do.

It’s not surprising. COVID disrupted the modern world and now we’re trying to settle back into a norm for our time. We were thrown into a pandemic “marathon” without warning, preparation, or choice, yet impressively, the dive community has stepped up and pressed on. By the middle of 2020 divers were getting active again, shifting to local diving where travel was closed. AWARE events ticked back up, and 2021 saw this trend continue. As I’ve mentioned before, last year diving brought more PADI Torchbearers into our ranks, helped protect the shortfin mako, and boosted local economic recoveries just by going diving when we could. As I said last month, 2022 is shaping up to be even better. Recovery isn’t evenly spread yet, but it is happening.

The Home Stretch

Notwithstanding, we now face the hardest part – the home stretch. In actual marathons, runners say that the last 10 kilometres/6 miles are harder than the first 40 kilometers/20 miles (a marathon is 42.2 kilometers/26.2 miles). It’s when they “hit the wall” both mentally and physically. For many of us, that’s how it feels now. Occasionally, we may want to quit, but now especially, we must not. We have to see this through and come out with the pandemic in our rear-view mirror. We need to continually find the mental edge to break through our walls because saving the ocean can’t wait for the pandemic to end. Restoring local economies where livelihoods rely on tourism – especially dive tourism – can’t wait for the pandemic to end. Now more than ever, we have to keep pacing ourselves, actively rehydrate, and draw upon our “intestinal fortitude” and courage– all without stopping.

Will It End?

To add to the difficulty, sometimes it feels like we’ve gone from asking, “When will it end?” to “Will it end?” If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t actually know how long our “marathon” will be. We know it will end (all pandemics end), and we’re nearly sure most of it is behind us (respiratory disease pandemics historically last about two years), but we’re not sure when things will finally, really, feel more like what we were used to.

three scuba divers at the surface

This Too Shall Pass

I am not resigned to pandemic anxiety and tarry, and personally take solace in the timeless Persian adage, “This too shall pass.” If we keep moving forward despite our fatigue, saving the ocean will pay us back with a preferred future for us, our children, and their children. And, seeking adventure helps us endure now. The pandemic doesn’t follow us underwater; diving’s a badly needed respite from which we surface refreshed, “rehydrated” and ready to continue forward, finish the race together.

Saving the ocean, seeking adventure, and sharing both are goals worth running towards – so let’s keep going together.

Good diving,

Drew Richardson

PADI President & CEO PADI Worldwide

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