“I was a vet for 30 years. But there comes a time with any job where you start to feel the need to move onto other things. The reason we go to work every day isn’t just so you can get up tomorrow and go to work again. There are very few people on their death bed who are wishing they spent more time at their desk.
I’ve always enjoyed adventure sports and exploratory stuff. The moment I heard about cave diving, I knew it was the thing for me. I’ve been doing it ever since all around the world. At the moment we’ve got projects going in China, New Zealand and Canada but I’ve also been to Europe, America, South East Asia, Central America, throughout the Pacific and here in Australia too. To go somewhere no one has been before and see something no human has seen is pretty cool. It’s a technical challenge and when I started there was a technical diving revolution with huge advances being made. It was really exciting to be in the centre of that with a new break through every week. It’s also physiologically exploring your limits. If you couldn’t die doing it, maybe we wouldn’t be interested.
That said, as a country, I think our increasing degree of risk aversion is limiting us. I think it’s starting to eat away at how we do things and it’s badly affecting our country’s productivity and human freedom. Maybe this is just a reflection of the human condition and being comfortable but I suspect not. I think it’s something we’re allowing to develop and we need to reexamine our assumptions.
There are a few other issues preoccupying me at the moment. The first and most significant is how we’re going to address emissions control. Climate change is the single biggest issue that we have to get on with. Governance of society is also pretty topical and how our institutions are going to work in order to preserve the civil society we purport to have and seems to be falling down at the moment.
I think the guiding principle of any society should be to give every individual within it the best chance possible to achieve their potential. If you examine Australia currently on that basis we’ve got a lot to do — there is a huge amount of inequality of opportunity.
We should all aspire to be open minded. We’re faced with a flood of information so in an attempt to limit this to what is manageable, it becomes easy to restrict your sources of information to people that agree with you. We need to continuously reexamine our assumptions and attitudes. If you start looking at how you think and the information you take in, it’s easy to conclude that you’re not as open minded as you think. The primary way to guard against this is by getting out there and having discussions with people who have different points of view and hopefully people that disagree with you.
I’m going to be a trader of opinions at s p a c e because that’s what we’re there for. I’m looking forward to some great arguments! I hope that I can challenge myself and everybody there to look at things in a different way.”
*Interview and write-up- s p a c e storyteller, Sian Gooden