In the 80’s I worked in search and rescue on the ocean. Many afternoons I would arrive on my shift, pick up the binocular to search the horizon, only to see something that appeared to be a title wave heading straight for the harbor. The first time I saw this I panicked, shoved the binoculars into a lead officer’s hands and urged him to take a look. The older seasoned officers all chuckled and explained the vision was an illusion created by cold and hot air meeting. It was a reflection of the water in the mist, making it appear to be a huge wave coming right at us.
No matter how many times I saw this spectacle over the years I could’t get over how real the illusion appeared. I’d keep my eyes on the mirage to make sure it was not in fact a rogue wave set off by some middle ocean earth quake, but the image always faded as the upper air level cooled. This taught me that I couldn’t rely on my five senses and must feel my response to things to navigate safely or properly in life.
Years later I was once again with my dear friend Harrigan when she began telling me the latest findings on why the Titanic sunk. Apparently, after years and years of research, the scientists, oceanographers and investigators have discovered that on that fated evening the water conditions were prime for this very sort of illusion. It was a clear night without a moon, so the stars were sparkling in the ocean, making it impossible to see where the sky and the water met.
As the Titanic made it’s way full steam across the North Atlantic ocean, the temperature drastically dropped 30 degrees, creating a shelf of very cold air on top of the warmer air, causing light to pass between the boundary of the two. This created the same mirror effect that I used to see on the ocean in California; a mirror image of the water reflected high into the sky, blocking the vision of what lay behind that mirage…an iceburg the size of another steamer.
For years the Titanic’s surviving officers and look-out crew, as well as the crew from the SS Californian; a potential rescue ship that stood only eight miles away, were scrutinized for the deaths of more than 1500 people aboard the Titanic. All their accounts were the same…no one saw what was right in front of them. “How could this be?” The masses and judges jeered with vindictive criticism in their voices. Those held morally responsible all died with the guilt of not knowing themselves why the Titatic hit an unseeable iceburg that was right in front of them.
Our five senses allow us the awareness of less than 5% of what actually exists right before us, and often that five percent is skewed.
Life has a way of urging us to rely on something other than our five senses to navigate. When we feel our way through life, instead of believing eveything we see or hear, things go a lot smoother. Our feeling sense is our sixth sense, and it is the most reliable.