Facing Your Monsters

I believe in monsters.

I’m pretty sure they aren’t mishapen beings climbing out from under the bed, hiding in the closets of 8-year olds ready to snatch them in the dark. However they do go bump in the night –

How many times have you been awakened by the monsters of life rampaging through your being? Laid awake in the darkness of the night while the problems that surround you chase sleep away – praying for relief as the “what-if’s” claw at your psyche…

There was a time in my life when my business was falling apart, we had just doubled our mortgage by moving to a big house, and my boy – my amazing kid – had his appendix rupture and infection spread through his body in an effort to kill him. We had no medical insurance.

Oh yes, my friend, there are indeed monsters.

Kym told me a story about what many of us consider a monster. One that he met at the bottom of the ocean – many times. Here’s what he told me…

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Captain Kym has lived a life of adventure. Starting when he was very young learning how to dive, he has lived a life on the ocean, the place that he loves. He would work salvaging wrecks, or moving boats across the ocean, or whatever he could to pay the bills, and then he would enlist volunteer “hands” at the local dive shop to come out on his boat with him and help him hunt for sunken treasure.

He laughed as he told me about the rookies. As the boat moved through the water toward the dive site, a rookie would often approach him asking with wide eyes “do you think we’ll see any sharks?”. Kim laughs and tells me how they “blow holes” to look for the loot.

There is a rig that hooks onto the back of the boat, a pipe that fits over the propeller, then takes a 90 degree turn down into the water where it transitions into a hose. After anchoring the boat with four solid anchors, this pipe is put into place, and the engine is revved, but instead of the boat going anywhere, it sends a high pressure stream of water down that pipe. The diver on the bottom holds the end of the hose against the sand and the water stream “blows” the sand away. Kym said they would blow a hole about ten feet in diameter, and maybe 8 – 10 feet deep.

All kinds of little worms, and fish, and “bugs” come up in the sand that they are blowing away. This brings the fish to feed, and the fish feeding brings sharks. So Kym is in the hole, working the hose in 6 inch visibility because of all the sand in the water, and sharks would simply come out of the gloom, crash into him, or skim by millimeters from his body. But he told me you couldn’t really tell the rookies that, it just freaked them out.

So he initiated a couple of the newbies…

He and a rookie would go down with metal detectors and start scanning an area together. Swimming side by side while sweeping the metal detectors over the sand as they moved. Kym would see what he was looking for, hold up his hand to signal for the rookie to stop, and then signal that the rookie should watch him. Kym would start slowly moving toward the tail of a shark sticking out from the rocks – acting like his was completely unaware. As he approached the tail of the sleeping shark, he would then act like he had a blip on his metal detector, go through the routine to check to make sure (like he had found treasure), then drop the metal detector and grab the tail of the shark with both hands.

At this point in the story he had to stop the telling and laugh at the memory of the eyes of these poor rookies as Kym stood on the bottom trying to hold the shark. This is obviously a fond memory for him…

The sharks first reaction is to try to escape, then the shark tries to bite what’s holding it, so it’s quite a wrestling match for Kym for twenty seconds or so, but as soon as the shark was pointed away from him, he’d let it go and off it would swim. Kym said that those adventures would usually help the new guys find peace with the sharks, realizing they weren’t really monsters trying to kill them. Maybe it prepared them for working on the bottom when they were blowing holes.

Facing your monsters – deliberately walking up to them and taking them by the tail. Staring down the dangerous things in your life… that’s an interesting thing to think about.

I’ve found that when I run from monsters, they grow. I’m so afraid to face them, so afraid to turn around and really understand what it is that’s coming to get me. I can hear the footsteps, and feel the breath of the “what-ifs” hot on my neck – fueling the fear in my mind. And as I run, the monster grows.

It’s amazing what happens when I turn to face them. I’m talking about everything from replacing the brakes on my car to my boy nearly dying from infection – when I finally face the fear, and turn to look my monster in the eye, it diminishes. It’s not as bad as my nightmares made it out to be. I am actually more capable to deal with it that I had imagined.

You know what? So are you.

But I think a lot about standing on the bottom of the ocean, holding a shark by the tail, facing fear and the monsters and realizing…

Realizing the solution to all of our monsters is pre-packaged in the courage we all have in our hearts. If we will only face our fear and turn to look at the monsters that chase us.

Then we grow. Then we face bigger monsters… and grow again.

……………………Postscript……………………..

Kym is a good guy. He introduced me to Bill, got us (Roxanne and I) into treasure museums and showed us where to find treasure along the coast line. We stood on a rise overlooking the ocean, and he pointed out where the waves were breaking over two reefs, and said “all of those spanish ships sunk between those two reefs”. A line like that, knowledge like that can really capture your imagination. (the first reef is only about 200 feet out in all the ocean shots in this video)

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In fact, he told me that a guy was walking along this shore, where this couple is, one day after a storm, and looked down and found 138 gold dubloons sparkling in the water. Each coin was worth about $1,000. Not bad for a days stroll huh? See what I mean about capturing your imagination?

He spent a day with me, taught me a ton, sat down for a video interview (I completely screwed up the audio so I can’t use any of it. I’m so sorry that I can’t share that with you), and showed me a jade phallus that he found off of the coast of India. There’s something you don’t see every day.

So big thanks to him. The world is full of amazing people. Captain Kym is certainly one of them.

Talking with Kym was a blast – he’s lived a life that most of us read about in books. Many of his stories were amazing to listen to. He should have someone ghost write a book for him!

……………………………………………………..

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