Swimming On An infinitesimal Scale

Courtesy of WOWSA, swimming backstroke looking up towards the sky in Huntington Beach, California.

When we swim in ocean and the swell are large and the shoreline is unseen in the distance, it is easy to feel how infinitesimally small humans are in the grand scheme of Mother Nature.

In an office, in school or at home, we view the world on a human scale. We have created a society where sizes are scaled down to our comfort. Buildings are easy-to-climb stairs, couches are easy to sit on, and the world’s images and news are brought to use by televisions, computers and mobile devices. We fit. Our size is accommodated to society; we can see eye-to-eye with those things and people around us.

But put us in the ocean and the scale changes. Proportions do not easily compute and the relative scope of our perceptions radically change.

A mile in a car on a highway is much different than a nautical mile swimming.

A meter-high mound of sand on the beach is much different than a meter-high wave in the ocean.

Leaves blowing off trees in 25 knots winds is much different than swimming against a 25-knot wind.

The ocean humbles us; the ocean reminds us of our human size on a planetary scale.

But when there is a lunar eclipse, we are reminded again of our infinitesimally small scale. To view yesterday’s lunar eclipse during a very early morning ocean swim was something all together.

After swimming past the surf, we swam backstroke as the ocean swells lifted and dropped us ever so gently. Swimming backstroke with our eyes gazed up towards the slowly moving lunar eclipse was instantly humbling and profoundly magnificent. We were immediately reminded of our ephemeral and evanescent existence relative to the world around us.

We felt tiny, infinitesimally tiny. But at the same time, we felt at ease and totally comfortable being in the marine environment that we so enjoy.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones