Scenes of Unseen Sea-ings
"I see," said the blind man.
The "sea" by its very name suggests visibility. But truth be told; the sea is mostly invisible. In fact, most of what we humans experience whether on water or on land, we do not actually see.
Experienced sailors often understand this fact. Maybe because many have developed a sixth sense for reading water, waves, sails, sky, boats and their accompanying traits, tendencies and eccentricities. Their intuitive and instinctive understanding of these interacting elements gives them a distinct survival advantage. No matter how confident and comfortable sailors are at sea, human navigators often resort and rely on more and more instruments to not only measure what they can't see, but also to confirm and maybe even reassure their instincts.
After recently watching a TED TALK video on how we can't see much of what we experience, I began relating the topic to the sea and sailing. It wasn't long before I realized that much of sailing invisible.
Sometimes we need to see what isn't observable.
If you have ever skippered a boat for any great time and distance, you may have realized much of what you have experienced is invisible.
- You trim your sails on wind you can't see.
- You can read and interpret your sails' telltales and see a modern meter that measures boat speed in knots per hour, but the wind is still invisible.
- You can trust a depth meter as you maneuver your boat over enormous depths or shallow depths, but you can't see the depth.
- Often even if we can see the bottom, what we see is often distorted.
- You can't tell a tear in your sail see. Gravity.
- And then you can see what you want to see...imaginations often make us see mirages, visions, distortions or even hallucinations that aren't visible.
And what is even more amazing is the fact that we often act on what we can't see. We sailors act on faith on so many things...that our boat and rigging will not fall apart, that our charts are accurate, that our skills and knowledge will get us to our destination. It's amazing what we can and can't see.
Any person with eyesight can witness waves, but no one can observe their actual force. Of course, the effects of wind on the water can be seen in ripples and waves, but the breeze or its actual strength can't be seen any more than a person's thoughts can be read. You can watch water movement, but the force behind it isn't any more obvious that gravity. If you are swimming and get caught in the undertow or the riptide, you can feel the force on your body, but it isn't always felt until you are in it.
Years ago I remember reading a story about a father's boarding a crowded subway with his three young children. The man, deep in thought, barely noticed his kids' restlessness and wanderings around the car. Unbeknownst to him, they had started to disrupt the calm and quiet of the other passengers. Some of the other adults were becoming visibly and increasingly more uncomfortable. Some even became annoyed by the father's seemingly oblivious attention to his family and to their discomfort. The father wasn't reading the signs. Finally, one woman politely asked the man if he could see his kids were disturbing people on the train.
His immediate response:
"Oh, I am so sorry. Come sit beside me, kids. ...I am so sorry, we just left the hospital where the doctors told me my wife has terminal cancer. And I was thinking about how I was going to cope and what I should do next."
Shocked by his response, many of these passengers might have initially concluded he was an irresponsible and ineffective father. But his private disclosure more than likely vaporized any assumptions about his parenting skills. When he shared his invisible truth, he was no longer considered inconsiderate of his fellow passengers. The passengers then saw him differently even though he was simply only being himself.
The present moment changed immediately for all those paying any attention to his family. Their assumptions were wrong. They had seen something that wasn't real. And with their only instrument, their own life experience, they did not possess at that moment the ability to see beyond what was another person's experience.
Maybe some of those subway riders had some moments of self-reflection and realized what they had experienced wasn't true. Maybe some realized first impressions often are misleading and untrue. Maybe their day or life changed because of that realization. I suspect few if any actually apologized for their incorrect assumptions, but my guess is some of the observers realized their prejudgements affected their experience.
Sight may deceive what you think you believe.
Just because something is invisible doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
No one in human history has ever actually seen any of these invisible forces:
- magnetism and polarity
- tidal forces
- solar or lunar rays
- infared, ultraviolet, cosmic rays, gamma rays, radiation
- sun's UV rays on sails and skin
- centrifugal and centripetal forces
- decay or deterioration
- water temperature
- air temperature
- heat / cold waves
- electricity and electrical waves
feelings / happiness / fear
- thoughts / beliefs / behavior
- intuition / common sense
- touch / taste / sound / smell
- trust / faith / loyalty / hope
- love / human magnetism / empathy
- selfishness / kindness
- ability / limitations
- meaning / interpretation / judgments / assumptions
- motivations / motives / rights / laws / privileges
- dedication / commitment /
- courage / evil / prejudice
- heaven / hell
- gods / spirit / soul
- ideas / thoughts
- truth / understanding / acceptance
- and countless more!
Invisible Motion Sickness
Eyes don't give us insight and understanding
See what you see when seeing and perceiving at sea (regardless of the season):