Two Oceans

If you look out at the ocean, you’re actually looking out at two oceans. One is an ocean of water, the other is an ocean of air.

Yes, we live in an ocean all right – what we call the atmosphere. It’s not as heavy as water, but it’s heavy nevertheless – with a total weight of something of the order of 5.7 quadrillion tons. Here at the bottom of the air ocean, there are 14.7 pounds per square inch pressing down on us – just like at the bottom of the water ocean, where the weight is greatest. Just as you can feel water as you rush your hand through it, you can feel air as you do the same. And just as fish can swim through water, birds can “swim” through air, and humans can do so using technology.

I was always bummed out as a kid that I couldn’t fly just by flapping my arms. But little did I realize that I could fly – through water. That’s what fish do thanks to their fins. You could say they’re flying instead of swimming. Meanwhile the bottom-dwelling sea animals are walking on the land – i.e. the ocean floor – just like we’re walking on the bottom of the ocean of air.

It is said that our evolutionary ancestors evolved in the ocean of water, and then evolved to adapt to air. So we actually come from both oceans.

And the ocean of air – like the ocean of water – is the ultimate life force. It holds our oxygen. It generates the water cycle. It blocks out the sun’s harmful radiation. It prevents us from dying of extreme heat during the day and extreme cold at night. This “thin blue line” is what distinguishes our planet that’s teeming with life, from the desolation and lifelessness of the other planets of the solar system, and probably of the trillions of other planets throughout the universe. (If there are trillions of stars there’ve got to be at least that many planets orbiting them.)

So next time you go to the beach to look out at the beauty of the ocean, be sure to appreciate the beauty of both of them.

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