Diving Through Darkness

Photo courtesy of MADLAWMEDIA

Are you nuts? That’s a death wish! This is a phrase I am oh so familiar with, yet as crazy as it seems, it has never crossed my mind.  The reason I hear this phrase all the time is because I am a blind diver. I haven’t always been blind, but for the past two years I have had to look at life with a much different perspective.  I’m saying this because about two years ago I had detached retinas in both eyes due to diabetic retinopathy and I lost the majority of my vision.

I have always loved the ocean, and my main focus was exploring for megalodon shark teeth. The bigger the tooth, the better. So, each time I found a tooth, I was always looking for one bigger. I credit my love for shark teeth to a good friend of mine, Mr. Mike “AKA The Shark Tooth fairy”, who inspired me to keep diving even after I lost my vision. Ironically, when I became a certified diver, I had to learn to dive without being able to see because I accidentally left my contacts back in the hotel room. I had no idea that I would one day lose my vision. So, you see it’s crazy how things fall into place when we aren’t even aware of them at the time.

I’m saying this is because when I dive for megalodon shark teeth, I’m diving in black water. When I say black water, I literally mean the water is pitch black and vision is zero.  Black water diving is virtually braille diving. My friend, Mr. Mike, once told me that all I had to do was feel for the shark’s teeth on the ocean floor.  He said if I could master that skill, I would become the best black water diver ever.

Photo courtesy of Matt Jackson

I admit I was a little nervous the first time I dove after I lost my vision, but once I was in the water, I experienced the most tranquil feeling of floating abyss. I soon realized that I felt at home down in the big black hole, and began to feel my way around the ocean floor. There was no fear or danger of encountering some creature, just peace and tranquility along with the excitement of hopefully finding that special meg tooth. It’s all about feeling for the triangle shapes and of course sometimes I get fooled. But, the real heartache is watching the video footage afterwards with my buddies and seeing all the teeth that I missed while down there. Believe me, I’ve left some monster teeth on the bottom of the ocean for those of you brave enough to follow my trail.

Photos courtesy of Matt Jackson

I was once told that the key to happiness was making other people happy, and little did I know that a shark’s tooth could bring such joy and happiness to a child. Do you remember that excitement as a child when you saw something for the first time that maybe you had only seen in a book or on television? Well, that’s the blessing we get when we have the annual shark’s tooth hunt in Beaufort, South Carolina for the children. My good friend, Mr. Mike, that I mentioned earlier started this hunt for the kids many years ago. He told me about the annual hunt after I met him, so I immediately wanted to hop on board to help out with the event. Every year, we place thousands of shark teeth on the beach and in the water for the children to find. This is the one time of the year that the children get to experience what it’s like to find a really big megalodon tooth. The looks on their faces are priceless. Their excitement of finding a tooth that came from an actual shark is both thrilling and heartwarming. It’s so rewarding to be a part of this hunt, and their finding a tooth reminds me over and over of the first time I found a tooth. It makes me happier now to see someone else find a tooth than me finding one myself.

Photos courtesy of Matt Jackson

We Found 2500 Megalodon Teeth!!!! (Shark Tooth Frenzy Hunt) by Modern Goonie

On the other hand, it’s not all about sharks and salt water when it comes to diving. Sometimes my adventures lead to finding other interesting things. As a matter of fact, I work with a team that consists of two best buddies and myself. We are currently working with local, state, and federal law enforcement officers. From grenades, guns, cars, and possible murder weapons, you could pretty much say that our team has experienced it all. You might also say that our team is dysfunctional, but we get the job done. One buddy is hard of hearing, the other is color blind, and I of course I am legally blind. We all get along well and feed off each other’s strengths. We act like brothers, and although we are not brother’s by blood, we are brother’s by heart. Our adventures have been nothing short of interesting. We enjoy helping out law enforcement officers whether it be finding a missing weapon, a piece of equipment or anything else needed to solve a case.

Photo courtesy of Matt Jackson

We have had to dive in some not so pleasant areas, but our mission always outweighs the not so pleasant circumstances. At the end of the day, our greatest reward comes from finding the missing piece of a puzzle and giving closure to a family. Being able to be a part of helping others is a wonderful feeling. We persevere until we are told to abort a mission. And, although we aren’t always successful, we must tell ourselves that we gave it our best shot. We are always up for a challenge and people that know us, know we mean it. Whether big or small, we will tackle it with everything we have and not leave any stone unturned.

Photo courtesy of Matt Jackson

If you were to ask me if things were different and I could have my vision back, would I take it back? I would have to say no. Losing my sight has been a blessing.  I have learned more from being blind that I would have ever learned being able to see. People have encouraged me from all over the world, and I have impacted more people’s lives than I could have ever imagined. Let me pause here and say that reading this has only given you the "elevator pitch" version of my life. My life has been made into a documentary that is linked below. I was asked to make a documentary, and it was never created for fame or money. It was done to inspire people like me with disabilities to have hope in their lives and to never give up on their dreams, no matter what. Mr. Mike was the one who once told me that the key to happiness was making others happy. So, I would like to leave you with these words, "when it seems like things are happening to you, they are really happening for you”. God Bless!

Modern Goonie Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/c/ModernGoonie

“Diving Through Darkness” by MADLAWMEDIA and Modern Goonie

One Response

  1. I wish to put out a very large congratulations to this man who dives blind. He is a strong advocate for those of us who are handicapped and still dive. Reading this story brought tears to my eyes and I can’t congratulate him enough for what he is doing.


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