I was listening to the news over the past few days, hearing about the tragic implosion of Titan, the submersible vessel that had been attempting a descent to the ocean floor to see the wreckage of the Titanic. A tragedy in which the billionaire adventurer who owned and operated the vessel, along with his four paying guests, had all lost their lives. One of peripheral stories in these reports had to do with an acquaintance of the submersible’s owner, who had been offered the opportunity to buy passage aboard this ill-fated voyage. Fortunately for him, of course, he had turned the invitation down.
Apparently, there had been ignored warning signs that the trip aboard Titan would be an especially dangerous one, stories about prior equipment malfunctions, of dicey engineering and safety standards. How much of this is true, and who should bear the burden of blame, will undoubtedly be parsed by government agencies and various lawyers. As they always do, history and opinion will make their judgements. Who was unlucky, who was deceived, who was reckless, who was blinded by privilege, led astray by ego, condemned by hubris, or just victim of fate.
Whatever the case, no matter what misfortune or foolishness was at play, my heart goes out to the brave and adventurous souls who descended into the wild depths in a fragile, claustrophobia-inducing tube in search of something wondrous. Perhaps most of us are more likely to pursue it in the form of snorkeling, stargazing, or an off-the-beaten-path road trip, but which of us hasn’t dreamt of some remarkable adventure? It seems such a human thing, to me, this willingness to risk everything in the pursuit of a grand experience, something to ignite our souls and validate our lives. It’s the reason human beings have looked down from the peaks of mountains and from the surface of the moon, and gazed out in awe upon the wreckage of past misadventures resting in the ocean’s trenches.
I can’t help but ask myself if, given the needed connections and financial resources, I would have said “yes,” or “no” to that offer of a seat onboard. I don’t have to think too hard, though. The answer would have been a hard “no,” for the same reasons that I would not leap (so to speak) at a chance to dive off a skyscraper in a wingsuit or go on a bar crawl after dropping acid in Juarez.
I might have been sorely tempted, though, to have been aboard that sub. I have always loved the idea of secret doors, hidden passageways, coded messages, sealed tombs, and maps leading to buried treasure. To see something special that few others have seen. I just don’t really like the idea of risking life and limb along the way. I used to do a bit of scuba diving, and I suppose I’ve had an adventure or two over the years, but the most dangerous thing you’d likely find me doing on any given day is defying my family doctor’s admonition to watch my cholesterol. Still, there is a little spark of Ernest Shackleton or Amelia Earhart buried somewhere deep inside me. In all of us, no? Possibly in a sealed chamber, never to be opened.