Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cousteau: True Explorer

Jacques Cousteau was a rare breed. He was a true, honest explorer of the Columbus or Cortez mold. It is important that we and our children are able to distinguish between the contracted explorer of the 21st century and the true explorer – just in case we want to grow another crop. Here is the difference:

The contracted explorer is selected by a company or a government agency to fulfill their vision.

The true explorer has a personal vision of exploration and he finds a way to fund it – but it is his expedition and his alone. No one gets into an argument over what he does or how he does it. It is exclusively his.

A great example of this was told in a book written by a modern true explorer - Clive Cussler. Although a well known writer, Cussler funds his own expeditions. On one expedition, as related in his book Sea Hunters I, Cussler found at one point that he was fending for himself in the elements when everyone else had retreated to shelter. Cussler finally joined the group and raised his hand before them. "See this hand?" he asked them. "Well, you'd do well to take better care of it next time, because this is the hand that writes the checks."

The contracted explorer is safely paid a salary and he has few if any personal resources wrapped up in the expedition.

The true explorer risks his personal worth on his vision.

The contracted explorer is not afraid to die in his quest, but his death honors the larger objective.

The true explorer is also not afraid to die to achieve his goal, but his death and his goal are both indelibly the same. The true explorer defines himself by the expedition that came about by his own reasoning and his own dogged determination and he was able to achieve his goals from the energy and creativity he found only within himself. In the end, the expedition is his life and his life is his expedition - they are inseperably one.

Thus was Jacques Cousteau. He moved every man into the frontier of the sea - an expansive region that is much larger than the nearly inconsequential land masses onto which we all now find ourselves fearfully crowded and huddled together. Soon mankind will take the first permanent steps to fill that great void that lies empty before us, and it will be by his clear vision that we proceed. Long live the memory of this great, true explorer.

Jacques Cousteau died on June 25, 1997, and is buried in the Cousteau family plot at Saint-André-de-Cubzac Cemetery, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France.