A Bit About Your Host Donny, #2
The Dream is Reborn
Early in 2016 I was planning to return home to Europe to visit family and friends. I planned to visit in the summer for a couple of weeks. The truth is, I didn’t really want to go back, but felt obligated since so much time had passed. I got as far as buying my tickets, but something went wrong on the travel agent’s website and I ended up with no money and no tickets!
During the extended hussle with China Southern Airlines, trying to get my money back, I suddenly realised that if and when I got my money back I should use it do something special, something life-changing and creative, rather than visit a past I was happy to have behind me. I had been in Taiwan for nearly two years and in that time I had accomplished what I earlier thought would impossible….taking back control of my health, overcoming my anxiety, turning the tide in favour of sobriety rather than addiction, I had arrived at an unknown place and didn’t know what to do with my new-found health and focus!
While waiting for that money it didn’t take long to remember the dream I had once had of becoming a freediver. That was it. I had reconnected with the child with the romantic dream and it became my dream again. I went online and searched for freediving courses in Asia and the first thing that came up was Freedive Gili in Indonesia. I did a bit of research, checked out the reviews and within a couple of weeks I’d booked my flights and my acccomodation, and first two freediving courses.
The setting for my induction into freediving…Freedive Gili!
What happened at Freedive Gili is a story for another blog post, but lets just say, I wasn’t a natural freediver. After a few ups and downs (excuse the pun) I eventually passed my SSI level 1 + 2 courses.
The important thing is that I had fallen in love. I had suspected many times in my life this was the passion for me, and I had lucked out. I had found my passion and now nothing was going to keep me from going as far as possible with it.
Returning to Taiwan my head was spinning with ideas. I needed new gear, diving buddies and a place to dive. It didn’t take me long before I discovered I had lucked out again with my location. Ninety minutes travel from my city lay a small coral island called XiaoLiuQiu 小琉球. It was one of the best dive spots in Taiwan. Tropical warm waters, crystal clear water, surrounded by extensive coral reefs and with a thriving sea turtle population. The first time I went there I couldn’t believe this little freediving paradise had been sitting under my nose this whole time!
A freediving paradise just down the road….XiaoLiuQiu 小琉球
Through the first half of 2017 I trained for freediving, found a small band of buddies and just immersed myself in the activity in any way I could. I dived whenever I could, but if I couldn’t, I’d be doing dry training, reading about it or thinking about being deep in the silence of the ocean, freefalling like a snowflake on a windless day.
I knew from very early on that I wasn’t in this to improve my snorkelling skills. I like a bit of fundiving, but what drew me deeper and deeper, was the depth. I had started to get serious about getting good, so I booked my next courses. This time I would head out to the Philippines to do my Aida 3 & 4 with Freediving Planet in Moalboal.
The Freedive Café is Born
I was an early adopter of podcasts. For 7 years I had been enjoying them. I’ve always been a massive nerd, especially for physics, history, health and spirituality. The Rich Roll podcast was especially supportive during the time I was transitioning from the old life path to the new one. I loved the long-form interview format. No rush, no bullshit, no trying to appeal to a mass audience, just the person and the story behind them. I had often thought I would love to have my own podcast one day but I wouldn’t have anything to talk about, haha.
As I lay on bed one day it suddenly occurred to me that just about the best podcast ever (for me) would be a Rich Roll-style long-form interview podcast with freedivers. Upon the realisation that nothing like it yet existed, I wondered what was to stop me from doing it myself? Well, I imagined a complete lack of interest from top freedivers would stop me pretty quickly but I thought, what the hell, I’ll get in touch with some of them to test the waters.
The incredibly hi-tech setup which produces the world’s finest freediving podcast 🙂
I sat down and complied a list of all the freediving personalities I could think of. Then I went to the official websites of competitions and looked at the athletes listed there. This way I came up with about 75 names. I started sending out emails about my prospective podcast and invited the athletes to come on the show and talk about their lives (still with no idea how to actually record and produce a podcast).
To my surprise (and horror), I started receiving replies almost instantly. Before the first day was out I had about 10 top freediving athletes signed up. Shit, now I was a podcast host, but how the hell does one go about making a podcast anyway!?
I’ve always believed that anything a person wishes to do is within their reach. However lofty the goal, the only thing needed is to imagine what the first step would be, and apply oneself to taking that step. The second step becomes relevant, and clear, upon successfully taking the first. If you don’t know how to do something, learn how to do it, acquire that skill. Our capacity to be creative and succeed is without bounds. With unbending faith in this simple belief, we can achieve anything we wish to and in due time, stand next to our heroes.
The Freedive Café’s first guest….Timothy Oehmigen
I set to work learning the ins and outs of the podcasting world. I used my skills in website design to build the website. I dug out my old Zoom H1 recorder and plugged it into my Macbook, and started figuring out how to get the best out of this most basic of equipment. It was all I had but I was going to make the best of it.
What I remember most about this time nearly 6 months ago (feels like 6 years!) is just how excited I was. Exciting because everything was sincere. My passion for this thing, the intention to spread knowledge about freediving and entertain other freedivers like myself.
In mid June I recorded the first interview, with German athlete Timothy Oehmigen. Man, I was nervous. I get nervous anyway talking to people I don’t know but here I was, way out of my depth. Thank god Tim had lots to talk about and made my first ever podcast hosting experience a success.
Happy, healthy, passionate Freedive Café host….
Thank you, this is just the beginning….
Over the last six months I have grown into my role as host of the Freedive Café. The show has evolved gently in the right direction, becoming a much tighter and well organised beast. I am becoming increasingly more confident and capable of engaging in conversation with my guests and leading them in the best direction for an episode. I have learned so much from my guests and the other contacts I have made through the show, I feel so blessed to see my dream of becoming a great freediver supported in this very unique way.
More than anything, I am astounded by the constant messages I receive from fans telling me how much they love the show. I was full of doubt when I started this crazy thing, but the support I have received from my little tribe of listeners has put all that doubt at rest and paved the way for another year of amazing interviews and learning experiences.
So that’s how The Freedive Café was born. It’s changed my life and I’m so happy to have everyone on board this crazy ship with me. I don’t know where we’re going, but I know this just the beginning.