Monsters have better fish to eat
04 December 2017
Monsters have better fish to eat. Interview with Aldo Jansel
ELLEN: We’re in Tarifa, sitting in a courage camper. We met here, because you had this crazy dream to go swimming to Africa. It’s 15 kilometres and the question is: why do you want to go swimming to Morocco?
ALDO: I had many reasons to swim to Morocco: one of them was fear. I was afraid of swimming in the ocean, the other one was swimming for toilets in Mexico. And we did it!
ELLEN: Ok. Now, it’s Friday morning, eight o’clock and you’re standing at the shore of the ocean. What are you feeling at such a moment?
ALDO: That was the best moment of the day I think. Even better than when I reached land. The fish looked as startled as me, they were looking at me and wandering why I was there and I touched the rock and then the swim starts. That moment was the most intense, the most nerve-wrecking that I felt in a long time. It was there that I was facing my fear, all of them: fear of failure, fear of not being strong enough to swim and fear of what everyone would think of me. I think we cannot live imprisoned to our fears. The other day also, before my training, I went to swim at night. Which was another big fear that I had and because at other swims it is required that you at night. And I just couldn’t see myself starting at night. So one day when I bought my wetsuit I went to playa chica at eleven at night and I was very afraid. And I just put on my wetsuit and my cap and then I went into the ocean. And as soon as I got away from the shore I realised there was bioluminescent plankton in the water. So I felt like the boy in ‘The life of Pi’ movie, swimming in bioluminescent plankton. And it was a beautiful experience again.
ELLEN: And when you overcome your fears and you’re afraid of monsters and then you meet light, literally. Do you know what you did to overcome your fears? I mean, you had the conviction ‘I want to overcome my fears’ but what are your tools to overcome them?
ALDO: As far as the fears, the monsters that we manufacture in our minds, the sharks, the whales, the jellyfish, which was also a big concern of mine.
They didn’t show up and I think we just tend to exaggerate them in our minds. And I clearly thought at one moment that a shark kills, I think, only six people every year through shark attacks. So I think that if I was going to be one of them that day, I would be very unlucky. And the odds were in my favour. And if I was going to be that one of six persons then I believe so much in my cause: ‘swimming for toilets’, that I would be okay with dying that day in the ocean. I think the monsters in our minds, they never come when you don’t exaggerate them. We just tend to think so much about ourselves and the ocean was so big, I was such a tiny spec there and no animal came to harm me. Nature humbles us, I believe. And we think we’re so important and we’re so special and that if we go in the water that some animal is going to come and bite us. But we’re so insignificant that no animal came to see me or bite me. And they have better things to do and better animals to eat.
ELLEN: They don’t think you’re important. It’s just your ego that’s telling you that you’re really important.
ALDO: Exactly, yeah. So we are not any more important than all the other beings and there was no monster in the end so I think we just have to not think about this. Not exaggerate them in our minds. We must have an idea of what the fear is or what the dangers could be, we prepare for them, if it’s possible. If not we just have to accept them. But once you face your fears, amazing things happen. Like the bioluminescent plankton, like the blessing of having swam across Europe to Spain. My suggestion, my plea to everyone is to please face their fears, because amazing things will happen. I feel humbly nothing. I feel very good, knowing that I’m just a tiny spec in the ocean.
ELLEN: It’s a big meditation of letting go of a lot of ego I think. Well, at the same time, reaching Morocco is ego driven, like your ego wants to prove you can reach this goal. And this is interesting, right? Because on the journey you lose your ego. It becomes one meditation.
ALDO: Yeah, I’m sure I wouldn’t want to swim to Morocco if I knew that I could do it. So in a sense I wanted to prove to myself that I wanted to do it, because I didn’t know that I could do it.
ELLEN: So in a sense this is ego, right? That you want to prove something, that it’s a competition or ..
ALDO: .. a challenge, and a metaphor for what I want to do very soon. Which is to tackle a big problem, and the swim is going to further be with me as a lesson that at one arm stroke at a time, I can get to Morocco. At one tiny step at a time I can get to my goals. So that was also a lesson that I wanted to take away from this swim.
ELLEN: Did the good cause help you to do it? Was it necessary that you had a reason to go swimming, instead of just overcoming your fears?
ALDO: I think it was good to show the cause for the toilets in Mexico, because when I am swimming, I am meditating and I am thinking about a lot of things, including the toilets and including the sanitation and so it was good to show that it was good to swim for this cause as well.
ELLEN: What is your fascination for sanitation?
ALDO: When I’m swimming, I think about the cities and the sanitation that they have around them and if they’re dumping sewage in the ocean water that I swim in. I just can’t help it, and you see plastic bags and trash… and you see almost no ocean life, no fish, and I wonder why and I want to study if that’s related to pollution or not and how we could medicate this.
ELLEN: And what is your solution for the sanitation problem?
ALDO: I believe that we must use waterless toilets and I think that is going to change how we look at the ocean.
ELLEN: Dry toilets? They don’t use water?
ALDO: They don’t use water, they don’t send sewage into the ocean.
ELLEN: So you are going to build a business, right? Around the dry toilets? How does this swim relate to your business goals or your ideas?
ALDO: Not to fear bankruptcy, not to fear failure and to just go one step at a time and always be focused on my objective. And I think that whatever challenges, I will find a way as in the swim. I’ll be able to manage and prepare for them. I think I just must do and cannot be afraid of this goal, don’t be afraid of this business project that I have.
ELLEN: Yes and don’t exaggerate your monsters.
ALDO: Yeah, don’t exaggerate the monsters.
ELLEN: Because they have better things to do.
ALDO: Yes they have better fish to eat 😊.
ELLEN: Okay, thank you.
ALDO: Thank you.