Alison Wright is my hero.

We met as I was nervously running through safety checks on my buoyancy control device, waist deep in the Red Sea, moments before a 150′ dive to a scuttled freighter off the southwest coast of Jordan. I was scared shitless.

Alison tapped my shoulder and asked to by my dive buddy. It was the first time we’d talked more than hello, day three into a press trip of the Hashemite Kingdom. She was representing National Geographic. I was on a stealth assignment for the Ottawa Citizen.

She said I looked like I knew what I was doing. My OCD-inspired safety check had obviously attracted her. But when she said she’d been advised not to dive because her inner organs were in a mesh bag, it didn’t make me feel any better. She’d been in a terrible bus accident in Laos just over a year earlier and, despite having survived and then climbing Kilimanjaro, she was uncertain about the depth and that going so deep could make her “implode.”

So I watched for it. Every ten feet or so I did the universal OK finger sign and she casually but clearly replied in kind. And as the inky hulk of the freighter took shape in the depths below us and we explored its hulking girth, disorientingly on its side and out of context, I got used to Alison. She hadn’t been worried for a second. And we surfaced together.

Now she’s written a book about the ordeal that nearly cost her her life but gave her a new perspective and confidence. I admire her because she lives in the moment, and I’mn grateful for whatever it was about me that made her choose me when she needed someone to look after her.

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