The Rejected Connected
"“I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. (The) last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.” John Volanthen
What is the activity that engages you on such a level that when you’re doing it, time stands still? For one person it might be skiing; another doing a jigsaw puzzle. it doesn’t really matter what it is other than it engages you to the point where nothing else matters, and for a time at least, the voice(s) inside your head quieten and you can just be.
Some call this state Flow, or Presence. I call it Connection.
I found it for the first time atop a remote mountain in the Victoria High Country, back home in Australia. Lying alone under the stars, with no shelter and little food; a calm came over me as I realized I was OK; that you could take everything away; the running water, the electricity; the roof over my head, and I’d be OK.
Looking up at the endless blanket of stars, I imagined what I must look like from above; a tiny spec on the planet; meaningless in the context of where I lay, on a spinning ball of dirt and rock and water; hurtling through space…
The calm gave way to a feeling I can only described as like being electrocuted…
In an instant I was everything, and nothing; and I’d never felt so alive.
Over time I realized it was the stripping down, the removal of things that make life easy and safe, leaving me feeling raw and vulnerable, that brought me into this state. And the fastest and only way I could achieve this state at the time was through a wilderness experience. Through leaving behind the familiar, the secure, and venturing out into the unknown…
So I went.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d spend the rest of my life chasing that feeling, that connection.
Most artists go unrecognized.
The majority of athletes don’t take home the gold or appear on magazine covers.
Friends and family wonder when they’ll grow up, and get a real job…
I explained my life prior to my accident to a financial advisor once and he sat back; looked me up and down and said...
“So, you were a bum!”
Rarely, if ever, are we rewarded for chasing our connection…
In terms of fitting in, in gaining approval from others, you’ll more likely be rejected.
I’m sure that’s how John Volanthen (who along with fellow British diver Richard Stanton discovered and then led the boys and their coach out of Tham Luang cave) felt many times in his life as people questioned how he chose to spend his time: deep underground, underwater, in conditions most of us would see as simply pointless and terrifying….
John was simply chasing connection; what made him feel alive, which is partly why this quote from him resonates so deeply for me:
“I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. (The) last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”
I know exactly what he means.
Many years ago, I realized that I’d spent my whole life preparing to survive those two days trapped beneath that boulder on Hinchinbrook Island.
Every time I ventured out, every time I challenged myself to survive, to endure, I built capacity; I built resilience. Eventually, the time came when I needed it….
I believe we’re heading into a time where finding and chasing our connection makes us more valuable; not less.
The world doesn’t need another cog in the machine; it needs people like John Volanthen and Rick Stanton doing crazy shit; like Elon Musk putting it all on the line to figure out where we’re going to go as a species. it needs people like you. It needs you connected to what drives you; fueled by divine energy, or God, or whatever you want to call it.
It needs you not looking to fit in, but to stand out.
It needs you connected.
The cave rescue has affected me deeply. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must have felt for those boys and their coach as their flashlight batteries died and their food supply dwindled. The days upon days of total darkness…
What it must have felt like to see light in the water as John and Rick approached, and then surfaced…
The closest I can get, and trust me, it’s a long, long way away from how I imagine it was for those boys, is how I felt when I saw Chip Jaffurs being lowered on a long line upstream from me on Hinchinbrook Island. On how he approached and asked me if I was OK. On how the others soon arrived: Dany Portefaix and Bill Johnstone; while Tim Kestevan flew the chopper and Greg Beer manned the winch.
One thing I can imagine is how grateful those boys are for those who serve, so that others may live. As am I.
RIP Saman Kunont.