Koh Phi Phi Series No. 2: On Diving (a hypocritical title)

My jaw dropped – though no-one around seemed to have had the same reaction – when one of the main speakers of the graduation weekend in my college attempted to inspire the students by saying something like this (I am paraphrasing, though it is close):

‘Always write down your goals. Think about them and write them down. A recent study shows that the 3 per cent of the graduating class that had their goals written in ten years owned 95 per cent of the class’ wealth.’

I looked around with my jaw dropped. No-one else was frowning, interesting.

Why did my jaw drop instead of my hands applauding enthusiastically this brilliant wisdom?

Because to be happy is to first of all to be successful and there is no better measure for success than money. Write down your goals and you’ll be more likely to have a nice house and a big car.

I mean, surely, I got the point the speaker was making – it’s extremely beneficial not to forget what your goals are – yet the illustration of the point made it seem, quite directly, that the only benefit that matters is wealth. Thank you, speaker, for guiding the youth towards what is truly important in life.

Immediately, I started wondering what I myself would have said in that special occasion, in front of several hundreds of young and inevitably confused people. There are few crowds which would appreciate a good piece of advice more. If I had to combine my imaginary speech and the one that was actually carried out, maybe I would look for some sort of statistics about what kind of people from any graduating class made the most friends, visited the most places, and – and this is where empiricism and positivism fail – have lived the most. This is the kind of statistics I would have liked to hear about. Perhaps I should write it down as a goal and in ten years, voilà, I am laughing arrogantly at the rest of my graduating class.

One of the most important and, undoubtedly, the most relevant questions to ask now is why on Earth I have started by blog entry about my trip to Koh Phi Phi with this story. Well, let me and my unlimited blogging cyberspace tell you.

In college – and don’t get me wrong, I received quality education there and made the most amazing friends – I have had simply enough of all that constant ‘networking, networking, success, success’ flow. Instead of following this seemingly vital advice, as you can see, I choose to mock it now and perhaps receive ‘Aha! You should have networked more and maybe you’d have a decent job now’ comments in the future when I’m completely broke – that is, almost like I am now – and full of regrets.

What may I regret? I might regret a conscious choice I have made and am still following. That is, while understanding the importance of networking and being all business-oriented, I have rationally decided not to care about it.

Out of all the places I’ve been to, Koh Phi Phi serves as an incredible illustration of how it is possible, for some of us at least, to have a job and yet manage to lead a life that is not all based on constant heavy competition and a fight for survival.

Here I’ve finally reached the part where I for the first time in this entry mention diving instructors. I mention this fascinating occupation and I can even repeat it again:

Diving instructors, diving instructors, diving instructors.

What’s so fascinating about it?

Well, if I didn’t have my diving (or dying by suffocation in general, to be more specific…and general at the same time) phobia, maybe I could be sharing way more than I am now. Yet I still realise how cool it must be to be seeing astonishingly beautiful parts of our oceans, seas, or – that would be more applicable to Lithuania – lakes.

Apart from that obvious awesomeness that lies in the very essence of a diving instructor’s job, there is more to it. Or, in other words, since I didn’t go diving, I could only notice this part anyways.

There are fourteen dive shops on Koh Phi Phi, and yet that competition and struggle to succeed must have been left somewhere far away from its shores. The air, the sea, and the fruitshakes were indeed refreshing there, but not as refreshing as the chill lifestyle of all the diving instructors I’ve met.

Instead of approaching each other with a sense of competitiveness and rivalry, everybody is friends and occasionally share a join on the beach or on some cool rooftop when the evening comes. There’s no need to ask any of them whether they like what they do. It shows so clearly, and in case it somehow doesn’t, the only possible answer I’ve hear during my stay was: “I love it!”

Now that would be a good piece of advice for any graduating class: to find a job that would make you glow like this.

Some might reckon it sounds somewhat utopian and can only happen on a paradise-like island. Where you’re secluded from the rest of that extremely competitive word and can somehow allow yourself not to care about any occupational struggle. I’d say, yes, maybe. However, why not to try to bring this, as some cynics say, idealistic, approach to the mainland? Yes, the ‘real word’ is harsh, it’s not easy to find a job – I myself will be forced to do that one day – and not to acknowledge this would be just naïve. Nonetheless, since I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the existence of people who love what they do, can survive on what they get, and can’t ask for anything better, I’d like to believe that all this search of happiness that young people in particular have to go through can lead to something real. That happiness is not necessarily hidden at the bottom of the unbelievably blue sea and literally diving for it might not help. At the same time, I refuse to believe it is necessarily achieved together with the 95 per cent of your graduating class’ wealth.

As I say, I don’t want networking. I want to make friends. On Koh Phi Phi I did: I couchsurfed with a diving instructor, then stayed at his friend’s place, who’s also a diving instructor (these words are definitely becoming the keywords of my post and some internet searches, I bet), I lived with him above a dive shop and met a number of his colleagues. All – including their clients – are extremely nice people with passion for life as strong as the heat of that tropical sun (which has left some nonsense tan lines on me as a reminder).

It was so much fun to celebrate the holidays in their company, chilling by the diving centre, thinking how absurd it was for me, a person who’s never dove (diven could be a logical non-native speaker’s guess) to be in that awesome company, and, while having that New Year’s Eve drink, to reflect on what I have now written here.

I have strong doubts I could be a diving instructor myself. If I at least tried diving one day that in itself would be an achievement. However, on Phi Phi I have found a truly great example of how happy one can be with his or her job.

Perhaps mine should be a speechwriter.

3 Comments

  1. The pictures look amazing. You should have hold the graduation speech. I still remember standing next to Xavier and making fun about the brilliant and certainly unique idea of writing down your goals. If I had been the speaker, I would have inluded other statistics “3 per cent of the graduating class that had a yellow bike in ten years owned 95 per cent of the class’ wealth. Or if I had been in a more cynical mood” 25% of the graduating class that wasn’t neither black, latino, gay, female or in other ways abnormal in ten years owned 95 per cent of the class wealth. Think about it!” Hi ho.

  2. I agree with that speaker you had in your graduation ceremony. Always write down your goals. Think about them and write them down. When you wite them down, you remember what you want to achieve in your career, relationship or life in general. It will inspire you everyday until you reach those goals. Let’s see.. I might end up being a diving instructor someday! 🙂

  3. Kooooks įkvepiantis įrašas xD Prieš akis iškyla pirmieji mainai (mano lyriniai nukrypimai apie nardymo mainus darosi beveik tokie pat dažni kaip Paulės apie Rumuniją, chichi x) kur mes irgi nardėm ir ten sutikau pirmąjį gyvą nardymo instruktorių… Kooooks gėris yra būti po vandeniu. Kadanors nuvyksiu į DiCaprio paplūdimį ir nardysiu ten tol, kol mane nudurs kokia nors raja.. Miau x)

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