Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inspirado: Jacques Cousteau

“Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong down an immutable course.”

If you know me, you know my obsession with all things nautical. Fitting with this theme is my admiration of Jacques Cousteau. It wasn't until very recently that I picked up his book The Silent World at the downtown library. Published in the 1950's, The Silent World  recounts Cousteau’s adventures when he and his crew were testing the first “aqua-lungs" (underwater breathing apparatus predating SCUBA technology). 

I started reading it and I can’t put it down. It's filled with these wonderful adventures, real adventures, real exploration and really, really almost stupidly dangerous experiments that could NEVER be done today. My favorite section is in Chapter 4 where Cousteau and his diving partner Frederic Dumas take it upon themselves to test the bodily resistance of underwater explosions. So here are grown men, 60 years in the past and under 100+ feet of water, setting off grenades and just hanging around for the subsequent explosion. All for the sake of just finding out what happens. Sounds completely insane when you think about it. I can get behind that.

More than the subject matter, I'm very fond of the tone of the book. It reads like part report summary and part diary and in (I find) a very humble voice. Cousteau never belabors the point. He's telling you what happened during his dives but not in a way that's overly clinical. Not in a way that you forget people are involved. It struck me while reading this book that by 1953 when it was published, Cousteau had been diving for almost 20 years. Twenty years is a long time to do one thing. I haven't even done the same thing for 5 years yet. But diving is what he loved and when you find something you love...that's just what you do.  

The quote above is from the first chapter in the book where Cousteau describes how it was when he first looked through goggles underwater. I like this quote because it really hit home for me. So for that, and for all the wonderful adventures and beauty of the ocean that he brought back for us to enjoy, Jacques Cousteau truly is Inspirado.

No comments:

Post a Comment