Why Mankind's Perspective Changes In The Open Water

Why Mankind’s Perspective Changes In The Open Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Photo of Lewis Pugh during his Seven Swims In The Seven Seas For One Reason is courtesy of Kelvin Trautman.

When Lewis Pugh promotes and encourages the expansion of Marine Protected Areas, we are reminded how different and separate our lives are on land – and how remarkably similar and connected we are while in the open water.

On land, we all lead distinct lives that we only view through our own senses and experiences. Over mankind’s history, these differences have occasionally led to disagreements and problems.

But in the water, our normal human perspectives become limited and our senses warped by the marine environment. We are the foreign visitor; we are the alien minority, the terrestrial intruder whose earthly experiences are left on the shoreline. Our hearing becomes limited and the sounds we hear are inexplicable to us. Our tactile feel is essentially eliminated as our limbs slide through the aqueous matter. Our sense of smell and taste similarly become nearly irrelevant. Through goggles, our vision remains but we see other marine life that are natural denizens of the deep, leaving us to feel inferior and entirely subordinate to the water temperatures and conditions.

So our innate skills and well-developed talents – so obvious on land – melt away and become immaterial. Our dreams and hopes – so palpable on land – retread to the recesses of our minds.

Our world and our perspective of our marine environment become simultaneously more limited, more confined. At once, we are placed in a position where our fundamental human differences on land are immediately overwhelmed by our experiences in the marine environment. As those differences disappear, our commonalities become more apparent and obvious.

While our dreams, views and opinions on land are profoundly sustaining and drivers of our actions, our limitations in the water makes all of us closer in spirit, mind and body. It is those powerfully binding sensations and perspectives in the open water that make the open water swimming community so tightly bound. Our differences in culture, background and language on land dissipate just as quickly as our basic human commonalities come to the forefront in and under the water.

These are the subtle ties that inherently bind the global open water swimming community and it is a wonderful thing.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association