January 24, 2024 8 min read 3 Comments

My DDC? Construct / Is it what it should be?

First, let’s tackle the local diving report. I have a very small sample size to draw upon but the report I got was encouraging. Joshua and crew braved a cold, rainy Friday morning last week to run offshore and do some spearing off of his sweet, recently acquired 26 foot Glacier Bay. The water was too cold for most of us locals (mid 60s). They did bring back a nice cooler of mangrove snapper, and a lobster. They also reported lionfish on all three of their drops. I do believe we see more of that invasive species during the winter months. Easterly winds this week should allow for the water to clear and as the wind subsides towards the weekend, the diving may actually be decent to good before the next cold front rambles through. 

Speaking of rambling, It’s been a little while since I wrote and the world hasn’t fixed itself yet. You may want to grab a snack and/or drink if you’re going to stay with me until the end, I feel a long rant coming on.  I’m asking myself why a long rant now? There are several reasons. Besides not writing over the holidays it’s been too long since I’ve blown bubbles so my gills are parched, which alters my sense of sanity. Plus, I’m sitting at home with a nasty head cold, or the flu or Covid… Do we really care anymore? Also, Jessi and I had the pleasure of escaping with the entire immediate family and significant others to Arizona last week. It was refreshing to graze upon the grass on the other side of the fence and BE the tourist! The variety of topography, grandeur of the landscape and stunning sunsets rebooted my soul to a certain degree. The Grand and Antelope Canyon cannot be described or portrayed in words or pictures. Arizona's natural beauty is a must see. I had no idea there were so many shades of brown!

The DDC in the above title stands for Disbelief, Desensitization, Compassion? To me those three words are a good microcosm of my reality as a diver, and as a human. This disbelief, desensitization, compassion ‘construct’ has been growing for a while, but I believe it’s reached puberty over the last seven or so years. I know I’m in the grasp of the DDC and I think most of us are. It could just be a personal thing though, I’m really curious to get some feedback on this one. Let me try to convey my thoughts here… I’ll start where my head is the clearest. In the water!

That would be on a dive at the northwest corner of the second reef (Anchor Eater) during the summer of 2017… The year of the massive red tide. The same site where I had my epiphany 30 years prior to run dive trips off of Marco to show people how cool the marine life is out here. This dive, I was literally crying in my mask. The sight of watching all these critters behaving erratically as they suffocated and struggled for life absolutely gutted me!  I was in disbelief. My mind was reeling, yet I put on the bravest face that I could, and downplayed what was going on to the passengers aboard as they didn’t grasp the full reality of the situation. After locking the shop doors that evening, I sat down alone on the big bench and gazed out the window at the slanted angles of light coming through from a setting sun. My thoughts melted into the sun rays as the full scope of our (humans) negative impact on Mother Earth settled in. For 10 minutes or so I cried like I never have before (or since) in my adult life. I think I even went fetal position during my bawl. 

I couldn’t let myself wallow in disbelief so my emotions turned to anger.  I was angry at everyone of us! At the time I was ashamed to be a member of the human race. I realize now that desensitization was not only present in that moment, but it had been percolating for a long time. For years I had seen many pictures and video clips of canals full of dead, floating fish and beaches littered with suffocated, decaying fish. I knew it was happening, but the bull’s-eye of the red tide was well to our north. I was desensitized, l felt sorrow and sympathy for those that were harshly affected by it, yet until it was in my face I didn’t comprehend the harsh reality of the situation. 

I was in full-blown disbelief and desensitization mode while trying to displace my anger. Anger rarely serves one well! It took another's act of compassion to pull me out of my melt down and allow me to breathe and wipe away my tears.  I don’t remember if Jessi asked him to call or if Paul just coincidentally shouted out while I was traumatized. Either way, his dinner invite (Paul D, not bible Paul) lifted my spirits out of that deep dark hole. We ate, I vented, we jammed some Rush and my world was in a better space. Thanks for your act of compassion Paul and Debbie… If you didn’t feel better about yourself then, you should now! 

That is my DDC experience from a divers perspective, now my (our?) DDC experience from a human perspective. Personally, I feel that I have moved past my disbelief. If you’ve read my newsletters for a length of time, you know I have been expressing my disbelief for many years now. It’s not that I can’t believe what is happening to us as a society. It’s that I can’t believe our lack of proper responses to the adversities facing us. 

Perhaps the most poignant example of our ineptitude is how we’re dealing (not dealing) with climate change. At this point in my rant, I’m sure there are no deniers of that still reading. However, I’m appalled at how many deniers there still are. What kind of a world do we live in? All the scientific evidence and recent environmental extremes points toward a warming earth due to human impact yet we’re too entrenched in the system to step outside of it, see the big picture and make necessary corrections. Hey now, that sounds like a lot of compromise, I’ll do whatever it takes… As long as my bottom line isn’t affected. The facts keeps mounting yet we seem mostly ambivalent to the prospect of the earth not being able to support our existence for much longer. Apathy is easier than effort, it takes much less energy. The prospect for our (humans) future is dim and scary. Once I wrapped my head around that, desensitization is naturally the next step. 

Paying any attention to our political situation will help move you through the desensitization phase. Actually paying attention to any media at all will hasten that inevitable progression. Many people believe that we are not in harms way at all, so they are desensitized to scientific evidence and pretty much anything that would infringe upon their current way of life. Many of us that believe we are in peril feel helpless and desensitize ourselves from all the disinformation flying around and the people spewing it. The chasm between the left and the right is growing wider and there is no middle ground, it’s all eroded. Hopefully, for the world's sake, it’s just the USA that has become a flawed, divisive political system. How do these sayings go? Government by the politicians for the politicians? United we stand, divided we soar?? I’m definitely desensitized to politics and politicians.

How are we doing on the other major issues? Gun control and mass shootings. Certainly desensitized there; the NRA is a shell of what it used to be and there have been so many mass shootings that they don’t even make the headlines anymore. How about racial prejudice? To me it seems like a lot of us were just pretending to not be racist and now we’re tired of pretending. So let’s ban and burn history books. Let’s redesign our political system and electoral maps to make it more white, I mean right. We see less media coverage of police brutality against black people. Are we desensitized to it or is it happening less frequently? No, I’m not advocating police defunding. Anyone who truly believes that the blacks should feel fortunate because we brought them here, educated them and taught them skills should be sold into slavery!

The list (and the divided sides) goes on and on, and likely will forever, however long that may be. Those of you that have read me know that my tone is rather upbeat for delivering such a dire perspective. That’s because I have graduated from the desensitization process. That qualifies me to take the next course: learning how to be compassionate. It’s not going to be easy, this is a graduate level endeavor. I don’t believe there are any college courses on how to be compassionate. I was about to write; there is no book titled ‘compassion for dummies’. Figured I should probably check the internet first and low and behold Amazon offers: 'Self- Compasssion For Dummies' by Steven Hickman. Yeah! I have a starting point!!  

Compassion? I’ve been contemplating the word compassion for several days now. Can we learn compassion? It certainly seems to me that there was more compassion amongst ourselves when I was younger. It's impossible for me to imagine what the world will be like when (possibly if) Gen Z'rs are saying: 'Back in the good ole days'. According to Webster’s 'Compassion’ implies pity, coupled with an urgent desire to aid or to spare. Okay, that seems reasonable, essentially put others needs in front of my own when possible. I find myself thinking that not everyone is worthy of my compassion. Upon further thought, a better way to look at It is; not everyone is worthy of me acting upon the compassion I feel.  

Rebirthing my hope for humanity must start with me being more compassionate to the rest of my fellow humans. I wrote that as a topic header a few days ago while laying down the outline for this short novel. Now I think that’s inaccurate and I’m switching it up. I’ve relinquished hope for humanity on the whole but I will strive to be compassionate towards humans. More people than not are deserving of compassion. We are all victims to a certain degree. All of us were wrongfully hurt or harmed in someway during our lives. Many were harmed to a much greater degree than I and they deserve my compassion. 

At this point compassion powers hope. I don’t have hope for humanity, but I can foster hope for humans. I’m not responsible for humanity and in the end there’s only one human that I’m responsible for. Me!  The same is true for you! So let’s find and foster our compassion and be the best us that we can be! Besides Stephen Hickman, there are other ways of learning compassion. Paul (Bible Paul not Paul D.) is full of compassion. I’ll have to consult a higher authority (Greg) but it seems to me one of the main themes of that book has to do with the beautiful benefits associated with being compassionate. Don’t get me wrong, Paul D. is as compassionate as humans come!

The saying ‘It is what it is’ is a very de-powering phrase. Let’s find compassion and change that: ‘Make it what it should be’!!!

As Always… & Now More Than Ever
Live Love Dive. —Jeff

3 Responses


February 22, 2024

Great thoughts and words, Jeff!
I love it. “Make it what it should be!”
Let’s all choose compassion and ignite it in others. 🙌🏻❤️ Love you, brother!

Ray Gorsline
Ray Gorsline

January 24, 2024

We miss you guys! I love reading Jeff’s articles, especially about compassion. My mother taught, scolded and even demanded that we not only hold the door for someone, but we were to do it for the next 5 who followed…compassion and recognizing the needs of others was drilled into us at an early age!

Hope to see you soon!
Ray, Mary & The Boys

John Blake
John Blake

January 24, 2024

Wow that was powerful. I am so happy and proud to work for you.

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