Wise words from an 85 years old Jacques Ives Cousteau:
"I think we find true happiness when we step out of ourselves, when we give to others. Unhappiness is self and happiness is others. It's indisputable. Only by extending yourself can you grow. Through friendship, love, sharing, or through knowing... It's a matter of making yourself a mere vehicle moving toward others, and not a vehicle from others to yourself".
The complete text:
LCA: Captain Cousteau, what activities and expeditions have you accomplished that have left you the most intense memories, the strongest emotions?
JYC: I've never tried to categorize them like that. Simply, some things have given me more pleasure than others because what I saw and experienced was superb, extraordinary, unbelievable. I keep especially astonishing memories of two expeditions: Antarctica and the Amazon. I left both places feeling that I had barely grazed the surface of the subject... From the helicopter over Antarctica (where I stayed for two years), I could see mountains that were more than 700 kilometers away just as clearly as if they were right next to me. What a feeling of infinity! One thing that is certain is that I have never been able to disassociate substance and joy. The moments when I succeeded in the most important activities... are therefore also those when I was happiest.
LCA: What philosophy pushes you toward exploring the planet and everything that lives on it?
JYC: What interests me is simply direct contact with people. Not just to learn about their life but much more than that: to join them, to live in their community, to be like a brother. I think we find true happiness when we step out of ourselves, when we give to others. Unhappiness is self and happiness is others. It's indisputable. Only by extending yourself can you grow. Through friendship, love, sharing, or through knowing... It's a matter of making yourself a mere vehicle moving toward others, and not a vehicle from others to yourself.
LCA: Has your philosophy been changed by time, by activities, by encounters?
JYC: Forty-five or 50 years ago, my thoughts and actions were doubtless much more violent. That may be one reason many tribes or so-called " primitive " peoples are governed by old people. They are right. My way of thinking has also changed since I met Jean Hamburger, a fellow member of the Académie. He was a doctor who was famous for have done the first kidney transplant, and also for his talents as a writer of philosophy, as a teacher and an artist. His ideas about the consequences of our divorce from Nature struck me and convinced me that we must face up to realities, understand that the path humanity has chosen will be a difficult adventure, and that we have to work hard to carry it off successfully.
LCA: Are you confident that we will?
JYC: Our ideas are making inroads. I can see it, notably in places that used to be hostile, like certain global economic meetings or symposiums, or even the World Bank. More than a few people are beginning to argue against the rule of the marketplace. In two or three generations, we may see concrete results.
LCA: Are you going to continue working in this direction?
JYC: I can't stop. If I stopped, I'd be done for. As long as I keep going...
Jacques Ives Cousteau
Extract from Chantiers de l'avenir (Paths of the future), June 1995: Birthday: A Young Man of 85