Same water, different water. It’s all in the perspective.

Published by Peter on

There’s a metaphor in here somewhere, but I’m still trying to figure it out.

This morning, while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas, I went whale watching. Before leaving the harbor, the boat paused so we could see a few natural formations at the end of the point.

This is at the very tip of the Baja California peninsula.

I did not take this picture. NASA did. Find it here.

On the west side: the Pacific Ocean. On the east side: The Sea of Cortés.

When you’re sitting on a boat right there, at the tip, the water on one side looks very similar to the water on the other side. The distinction between ocean and sea is not noticeable. There’s even a window where the water flows back and forth from ocean to sea.

It’s like they don’t even care the ocean water is leaking in. Someone should plug that up.

So the distinction between “the Ocean is on that side, and the Sea is on this side” seems kind of arbitrary and contrived. Like it’s a PR campaign by cartographers to keep their field relevant.

Then the guide told us about the beaches that are right there. A break in the rocks creates a sand throughway from the sea to the ocean, with a beach on each side.

The sand throughway. This is Lovers Beach, on the Sea side.

On the Sea side, easily accessed by water taxi (but inaccessible by land) is “Lovers Beach.” Very swimmable, with plentiful sea life for snorkelers to enjoy.

Walk through to the ocean side, though, and you’ll find yourself on Divorce Beach. It’s called this, apparently, because it’s not safe to swim in the ocean water. Rough surf and rip tides have led to a number of tragic outcomes. As the guide told us, “Easy to get in the water. Not easy to get out.”

Both the sea side and the ocean side are beautiful. They look very similar. And yet. The sea side is friendly and safe, and the ocean side is dangerous and rough. You wouldn’t know that unless someone told you, or you were already expert in assessing the safety of beaches.

So if you’re going to go into the water, make sure you’re facing the right direction. And if you’re not sure you’re facing the right direction, maybe stay out of the water.

What’s the metaphor here?

I’m still in search of a metaphor appropriate to this post. There’s one in here somewhere. I can feel it, but I can’t quite identify it. (Forgive me. I’m on vacation, after all.)

Perhaps it’s about listening to experts who know where the dangers lie. Perhaps it’s about things that look the same but have differences you can’t see. Perhaps it’s about the wisdom of cartographers.

I’ll leave it to you to find your own meaning in it this week. I’d love to hear what you make of it! Drop me a note with your thoughts.

In the meantime, here is a whale tale.

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