The First Rule of Scuba Diving

A few years ago I was feeling complacency in my life and really felt like I needed to introduce some excitement into my life. I came home one night from work and announced to my wife that I had just enrolled us in a scuba diving class that was starting the following night. I’ll never forget the look of confusion and terror that came across her face at this announcement. Looking back her reaction was probably quite normal considering I had never expressed an interest in scuba diving before and had not even mentioned that I knew what scuba diving was. This coupled with the fact that we were living in Idaho at the time which is not necessarily known as the scuba diving capital of the world probably didn’t help matters either. I have no idea why I chose scuba diving nor can I explain how I thought this change would be the solution to my feelings of complacency. I will give my wife credit, she went along with my rather unorthodox suggest and attended the classes with me.

Scuba diving training consisted of several classroom lectures followed by several sessions in a local swimming pool where we were introduced to the basics of handling equipment and could see practical application to what we were learning in the lectures. Finally after all this training we would be taken to a local fresh water lake where we would demonstrate our knowledge and be certified as scuba divers. We came into the classroom and sat down. After welcoming everyone to class the instructor began his lecture by unveiling the first and most important rule in scuba diving, “Don’t forget to breathe”.

I was expecting him to tell us why James Bond always spit in his scuba mask or how we can arm ourselves against an attack by a large Hollywood shark and instead I get “don’t forget to breathe”? The instructor went on to explain that people have been programmed that when they get underwater they are supposed to hold their breath. You have to retrain yourselves to instead focus on the most basic thing – inhale and exhale. At the time I did not realize it but what this diving instructor did was unlock the secret of the universe. It’s not just the first rule of scuba diving; it is really the only hard and fast rule of life. No matter what happens in your life, no matter how badly things are turning out; you need to remember this one rule “Don’t forget to breathe.”

Last night as I sat in the stands at Chase Field and watched Dan Haren dismantle the Chicago Cubs with his arm and his bat I saw Cubs fans moaning and groaning. They began talking about curses and the bad aura that follows this time.

Last night I sat in these same seats and watched as the Chicago Cubs absolutely destroyed the Arizona Diamondbacks. I watched as each pitcher brought in for the Diamondbacks gave up hits and runs to the point that I expected the grounds crew to come out and install a revolving door at home plate to relieve some of the traffic problems the Cubs were having at home plate. I listened as fans and local sports talk radio announcers lamented about all the problems plaguing the 2009 Diamondbacks. They complained about the lack of hitting, the lack of pitching, the lack of conditioning, the lack of proper coaching, the lack of fans in the stands and the lack of anything else they could think of. Callers began demanding players be sent to the minor leagues or released. They talked about how coaches should be fired and how front office staff should be relieved of their duties. All this on the basis of 20 games of 162 game season. After only 12 percent of the season people are already asking for wholesale changes to the organization.

I appreciate their frustration and applaud their passion but really is this the best idea? Does 12 percent of anything accurately describe the outcome? There is a lot of baseball left in the 2009 season and there are a lot of positive things that should be pointed out. After an abysmal start at the plate for many of the players we are starting to see things turning around. While the Diamondbacks scored only 3 runs last night they did manage to get 8 hits against the Cubs ace. The batting average for most of the players is starting to trend upwards; another positive sign. With the exception of Yusmeiro Petit the starting pitching has indeed been a solid unit. In defense of Petit, he has been asked to fill in for Brandon Webb which are some pretty big shoes to fill. The bullpen which has at times looked horrible also has its bright spots. Chad Qualls, Tony Pena, and Juan Gutierrez have all looked very good for the most part. That’s not to say everything is perfect. Reliever Jon Rauch is still struggling and I cringe every time I see him come out of the bullpen but if Bob Melvin and get Rauch some confidence by putting him in situations where he can get some success even Rauch can become a serviceable member of the bullpen.

The key to all of this of course is to relax and not look at each of these games as the most important game of the season. The players and coaches are well aware of the expectations that have been put on their heads and each person is trying their best to make the team successful. Things are going to turn around; there is too much talent in this clubhouse not to succeed; it’s just going to take time for all of the pieces to start to click. So my suggestion would be for all the Diamondbacks fans to take the advice of my scuba diving instructor and “Don’t forget to breathe.”

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