Monday, May 19, 2003

You, too, might be suffering from the bends. Have you been spending too much time doing boring stuff? Stuff that's really a struggle for you? Scuba diving without following the rules? It's all relative, really.

When you are at sea level, the air pressure exerted on your body is 14.7 PSI (pounds per square inch). Dive down 33 feet, and the pressure doubles. Every 33 ft, the pressure increases by 14.7 PSI. Essentially, the same thing happens to me when I run errands. I go to the post office (33 ft depth, 14.7 PSI). Then I go to the bank (66 ft depth, 29.4 PSI). Then I do the grocery shopping (99 ft depth, 44.1 PSI). If you'd been scuba diving all that time, you might have to spend some time decompressing. Scuba divers sometimes have to make "decompression stops". These are periods of downtime, for the purpose of giving their bodies time to adjust on the way back to the surface. If they did not make these stops, they would have to spend time in a decompression chamber. Likewise, if you spend too much time running errands, doing boring stuff, or otherwise stressing out over keeping up, you too might have to spend some time in your personal version of the decompression chamber - for me, it's usually time spent on the Internet. Some people seem to catch a cold as a way to have some guilt-free time off. One way or another, you are going to "decompress".

Wouldn't it be better to build those "decompression stops" into your daily routine? Most of us can probably think of ways to renew our resources before the end of the day.

Any good scuba diver knows that you've got to be careful. The rest find out the hard way. The thing about diving is that you are not made to live under water! Your body adapts as best it can, but the longer you dive, the more depleted you become. The deeper you dive, the shorter the time you can spend. Your depth and elapsed time determine your level of depletion. If you were to think only in terms of how long the air in your tank will last in this situation, it could have serious consequences. You may need to start your ascent long before your tank is running low.

The same goes with the person who thinks that just because they CAN (I'm still breathing, aren't I?), they should push themselves to carry on when a situation is clearly depleting their resources. They may be able to get away with it - for awhile. And of course, we are all going to do things that are going to deplete us from time to time. That's life. But awareness - knowing what your limits are (and being considerate of those limits) - will reduce or eliminate the need for a "decompression chamber".

As usual, I teach what I most need to learn. But I am starting to recognize that decompression - AKA "downtime" is going to happen, even when I don't want it to. Because at a certain point, downtime will just happen. It's either that, or the bends!