Perspective

Crossing an ocean on a sailboat gives you plenty of time to sit, read, and think. My current book, Fabric of the Cosmos, is an excellent book to read on a crossing because each chapter is so profound and mind bending that you will need to sit around and think to mentally digest that one short chapter.

Ironically, the chapter I read today is about perspective and space. What is space? And what determines what a space is? What determines who is moving in a space?

A wonderful example given in the book is about a person on a boat (very fitting as I sit here 500 miles out to sea) who drops a coin. The coin falls straight down and lands on his shoe. Therefore, the boat, sailor, and coin, are all stationary and it is the sea that is rushing past them and not the boat rushing through the sea.

This concept that we are stationary and the world is rushing past is so apt at explaining what it feels like to be on a sailboat crossing an ocean. You sit in the cockpit or maybe you stretch out on the deck, but you are always on the boat. Everywhere you look, you see waves all the way out to the horizon with nothing else in view. You are alone in the center of your visible world. Clouds appear on the horizon, some move away, some move towards you. Day in and day out, the view is always the same and you are always sitting on the boat looking out at the exact same waves.

We left land about 15 days ago and spend a significant amount of time ghosting across the doldrums (I recommend avoiding the doldrums if you are in a hurry). The doldrums live up to their fame: totally calm with the ocasional whisper of wind. Sunrise and sunsets were amazing times when the sky and sea blended together into a surreal pastel painting. It was hard to believe that it was real! But it was there before your eyes and visible uninterrupted in all directions.

After so many days, especially after days of hardly moving, you really do feel stationary. You exist at the center of your visible world and other items come and go from it. Cargo ships will appear on the horizon and then disappear just as quietly. Clouds will grow, rainbows shimmer, and then the blue sky will return, but you are still in the center of this world that doesn't move.

From our perspective, we are just sitting here waiting, waiting for the next island to enter our visible world and approach the bow of our boat so we may anchor near it. Eventually, we will raise anchor and the island will drift away as a new landmass will approach us, begging for us to explore it too.

Are we crossing an ocean or are we waiting for the ocean to cross under us?

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