Thai Cave Rescue insights

All of us rejoiced when all 12 boys from local Wild Boars football club and their  25-year old coach Ekkapol Ake Chantawong were rescued from the caves in Thailand where they were trapped for 17 days.

This rescue operation spanning over several days and involving experts from several nations also saw death of the Thai navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who swam through miles of dark water to deliver 13 oxygen tanks for the trapped boys & their coach. He ran out of his own oxygen on his way back. His death made the world realize gravity of the situation.

Saman Kunan (By <span title="must have been published or publicly displayed outside Wikipedia">Source</span> (<a href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Non-free_content_criteria#4" title="Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria">WP:NFCC#4</a>), <a href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saman_Kunan.jpg" title="Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Saman Kunan">Fair use</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57906593">Link</a>)
Saman Kunan (By Source WP:NFCC#4, Fair use, Link)

Best of the divers, experts and innovators (including Elon Musk) from all over the world united to rescue these boys and it was moving to see this rare display of humanity and solidarity. I was following this recuse operation keenly and I read a lot of its coverage on social media as well as through the international press.

One photo that caught my attention along with its quote is posted below – he is John Volanthen. There is a Wikipedia page in his name now, there wasn’t one when this operation was taking place.

John Volanthen
John Volanthen

John Volanthen is a British cave diver who is passionate about diving and one of the leading rescuers in the Thai cave rescue operation. He also happens to be an IT consultant. (Ahem!) With reference to this Thai cave rescue operation, this is what he said –

“I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”

~ John Volanthen

This resonated with me deeply and I knew that I had to write about this here. I had written a longish, concluding article titled Connecting meaning & calling in the three-article series related to calling and meaning back in June 2016. If you’re interested, please go through the original article. This small piece is worth recalling –

And there are ample examples when people sort of enjoy what they do, but feel their work is meaningless since they cannot see how it helps others or how it makes world a better place.

Excerpts from: Connecting meaning & calling

In case of John Volanthen, his passion (calling) is diving & he is finding purpose (meaning) in rescuing the boys. It helps that he is among the best divers in the world – and he was indeed up to the challenge, one of the toughest challenges! Isn’t it more like flow – High challenge & high skill? I could see so many real life stories unfolding that exemplified what I have been writing here on My Zen Path.  The boys in the cave meditated as guided by their coach Ekkapol, who also happens to be a monk (can’t put former monk here – for me, he is a practicing one). They practiced hope, and it grew stronger. The boys and their coach Ekkapol – who was the last one to come out of the cave, displayed unparalleled grit and survived with little food and low oxygen levels. John Volanthen chose what to do with his gift of diving. It is miraculous to see all of them coming out safe in a near-impossible operation, but it consisted of several resilient, heroic efforts from all involved – from the international team of rescuers to those young boys themselves.

Interestingly, not all those who helped during Thai cave rescue operation were as skilled or gifted as John Volanthen or as valiant as Saman Kunan, many of those were common people like most of us, but they were moved by the cause of this rescue operation. Coming back to the calling and meaning connection, here is another recall from the same article discussing story of a New York barber, Mark Bustos –

You don’t need to be exceptionally gifted or exemplary in your own profession to make a difference.

Excerpts from: Connecting meaning & calling

There are plenty of such stories of common people contributing in whatever way they could to this Thai rescue operations that warmed my heart. I won’t write any more of my comments  but rather share those heartening photos with accompanying tweets or text, I think they’re self-explanatory and worth more than thousands of words that I might have used here on My Zen Path. Do watch these photos –

Size of fight in the man, not size of man in the fight - smallest rescue team member.
Rescuer: Size of fight in the man, not size of man in the fight – smallest rescue team member. #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
#ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Drilling Water: #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Farmers: The government offered money to help them but they said they didn’t want any, seeing the boys safe is the reward #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
#ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Farmers: #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
#ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Pumping Water: #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Nest collectors: They collect bird nests and sell them for living. They are very good at climbing so they contacted the army asking them if they could do something. They did a very good job! #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
#ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Humble Transport: #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Massage: These masseurs do a free massage for the rescue team after working so hard to get the boys out. #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Noodles: This family sell noodle for living. That day stop selling noodle and decided to give it free for the rescue team through steep & wet road. #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
She is the owner of the washing store,doing free-washing the rescue team's clothes.
Laundry: She is the owner of the washing store,doing free-washing the rescue team’s clothes. #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)
Ice-cream: He drove more than 200 km just to give ice-cream to the rescue team. #ThaiCaveRescue Heroes (PC: @duduang2)

What is most uplifting that these are all common, real people and their real stories that we are are fortunate to witness.  🙂


Featured image & other photos –

The featured image used here is from News18 Creative by Mir Suhail, I am using it here with gratitude. Thank you for such a lovely illustration Mir! The other photos used here are mostly from my twitter timeline, I have credited the source wherever possible, but it was difficult for some photos. I am using all these photos with gratitude. The purpose is to drive what I have been writing here on My Zen Path, since many of these stories exemplify all that so wonderfully.