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To be a Cave Diver...

I've never been a big fan of documentaries. I think, for my generation at least, being forced to watch them at school gives them the reputation of being educational and thus ‘uncool’. Similar to how reading a GCSE textbook for recreational purposes is just not the done thing. Anyway, after a recent trip to some caves in the Brecon Beacons I thought I'd give this new documentary film a try on Disney+ . It's called ‘The Rescue’. It's the story of the 2018 rescue mission in Thailand. If you can remember, it's the one which saw the children of a junior football team, together with their manager, trapped inside a cave.

While the documentary may have got off to a slow start (possibly my short attention span), by the end, I was completely blown away. What’s interesting is that the focus of the story isn’t so much on the trapped victims themselves, as the attempt to rescue them. Throughout the documentary, you see these senior officials and state authorities call upon all the relevant professionals to get into the caves; engineers, Thai Navy SEALS, the US Pararescue, etc…

However, an answer emerges from the most unexpected of places. Unlike most rescue missions, this was something that required specialist knowledge and experience in the relatively obscure recreation of ‘cave diving’.

A small crew of unassuming volunteers from the UK rock up, introduced to us as cave diving ‘hobbyists’. At first glance, they don’t seem to inspire much confidence in what is a national state of emergency. Seeing the volunteers arrive in t-shirts and flip-flops, the local authorities are baffled as to how these part-time cave divers are the only group of people in the entire world capable of carrying out this delicate rescue operation.

What blew me away was that each of these cave divers admitted to having their own set of social challenges growing up. Some recalled being bullied in childhood, failing at team sports, last to be picked in the playground, emotional challenges and antisocial character traits. One admitted to being somewhat ‘different’ from other people. It seems as though their emotional constitution provided the perfect temperament for their cave diving abilities to thrive. You hear one of them recall how the narrow underwater passages served as a refuge for his mind; a quiet space for his curiosity to wonder unchallenged.

Unfortunately, I don't suppose these kind of personality traits will ever be encouraged on a LinkedIn profile, but as we can see, for some jobs it may prove critical…

One can’t help but wonder how our own childhood experiences have shaped us into the individuals we are today.

Happy new year! :)


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