104. Jill Heinerth – Into the Planet: Lessons from 30 Years of Cave Diving

Jill Heinerth is a cave diver, underwater explorer, filmmaker, author of the memoir, Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver, and producer of the documentary, We Are Water. She is the first Explorer in Residence for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and for over 30 years, she has worked in film, photography, and exploration. As an explorer, Jill documents deep ocean environments and other places where humans have never been, making fascinating contributions to climate change and geology. Jill is a recipient of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, granted by the RCGS for her lifetime achievement.

Jill joins me today to explore the role of cave divers as the hands and eyes of scientists. She shares some of the biggest fears she faced in her life and explains how fear can be transformative experiences. She illustrates the experience of cave diving and how she prepares for a diving mission. She underscores the importance of water and describes how we’re already fighting wars over water supply, and what we can contribute as individuals in response to climate change. She also shares her writing process, reveals the most challenging part about having her book written, and explains why it’s essential that we run towards, not away from, fear.

“Fear is genuine, no matter the source or expression. Whether it’s a dark cave we’re swimming or of our own making, there are strategies to employ to deal with that fear.” – Jill Heinerth

This week on The School for Good Living Podcast:

  • How Jill’s relationship with water began and how she transitioned from her career in advertising to become a cave diving explorer
  • What sump diving is and why it’s the most dangerous form of diving
  • What it’s like to cave dive, why it’s not for amateurs, and exploring “The Pit” in Mexico
  • Photographing the cover of Into the Planet and surviving a near-death experience while diving in The Pit
  • What discovery learning means and how failures can become gifts
  • How a terrifying night became a transformative experience for Jill and why experience is the best teacher
  • How Jill prepares for an exploration mission and why she chooses people who have fear to become part of her team
  • Jill’s contributions to science as a cave diving explorer
  • Climate refugees in the US and why we’ll start fighting wars for water
  • The differences a person could make for climate change
  • Shooting Under Thin Ice and consulting for James Cameron
  • The most challenging part of writing, publishing, and marketing Into the Planet
  • What it’s like to write vulnerable and emotional experiences into a book
  • The power of running towards fear

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Jill Heinerth

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