THE WORLD WON'T LISTEN
SUMI, MY DOLL-LIKE JAPANESE DIVE GUIDE, IS A NINJA. There's no other explanation for her extraordinary powers and her perfect grace.
A group of Italian divers sporting single cylinders are shrieking, staggering and flailing into the shallow water on an uneven, rocky shore. Sumi shrugs on a twinset that is approximately twice her size, clips on a 10 litre stage cylinder and glides through the chaos.
How does she do that?
I'm in Dahab, and one of the pleasures of diving abroad is that you get the chance to encounter divers like Sumi, who are quietly brilliant - not trying to be impressive, not putting on a show - just being.
Thanks to the global power of PADI, anyone who loves diving and wants to travel can achieve both as dive masters and instructors. If you're young and fancy-free, you have the chance to be economically exploited on an international level, with a few Third World living conditions thrown in. With any luck you'll be having far too much sex to care.
Diving has become the international melting pot that hippies in the '60s dreamed about. We are that Great Big Onion: the place where relatively boring and unattractive English boys - the ones who wouldn't enjoy a second glance in their home towns - can become dive guides and have impossibly gorgeous Swedish girlfriends.
Dive centres around the world show living proof that you can become far more interesting in a second language, and constantly demonstrate the magical pulling power of being a diving instructor or dive guide.
If you're a keen diver, running off to find love, have an adventure, dive your socks off and follow your dream is a great idea. Unless you're over 30, in which case you're either having an identity crisis or are suffering from a severely broken heart; probably both.
At 75m, Sumi hovers effortlessly above the reef, and shows me the cave where her boyfriend proposed to her; two people from opposite ends of the world, meeting in Egypt, and falling in love. Brilliant.
How fabulous is it that the pursuit of happiness and self-fulfillment can be achieved with the help of the diving industry! How sad is it that most of the people I come across in the UK diving industry are miserable, downbeat and, frankly, in need of a snog.
In contrast, most of us who are UK divers love the sport and have a merry old time both in the water and out. If you're over 30 and looking for fun, friendship and adventure (while still being able to pay your mortgage) you could do a lot, lot worse than joining your local dive club.
Inevitably there's always a few people who seize upon diving as some kind of authority-mustering and point-scoring exercise.
Instead of enjoying themselves, these people seem to have attached their entire self-worth to their diving. Responsibility freaks and hardcore technical zealots are the party-poopers of the UK diving scene.
The diving is just a tool (but you know how seriously men can take their tools). It is your experience of yourself in the world that will make you happy or miserable. If you're not having a good experience, you need to change what you're doing. Being anally obsessed with your kit configuration, or hostile and superior about which wrecks you've dived, will never win you enough approval to fill that gaping hole inside.
Publishing your own website to prove to the world that you are the best diver in existence will not satisfy your emptiness; nor will breaking records or being on the cover of a diving magazine.
You can stamp your foot, demand attention, denounce your fellow divers as unworthy - rage at the world. But the world won't listen.
Ultimately, diving gives you options: you can behave like a wanker, or you can please yourself.