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Myth or Truth

Is anyone familiar with the tale of Magellan's ships? It is one of my favorite stories. It illustrates to us just how powerful our perception is, how potent our mind. Essentially, it demonstrates how our understanding of reality dictates what we see and understand to be true. Here is how it goes...

“When Magellan’s expedition first landed at Tierra del Fuego, the Fuegans, who for centuries had been isolated with their canoe culture, were unable to see the ships anchored in the bay. The big ships were so far beyond their experience that, despite their bulk, the horizon continued unbroken: The ships were invisible. This was learned on later expeditions to the area when the Fuegans described how, according to one account, the shaman had first brought to the villagers’ attention that the strangers had arrived in something which although preposterous beyond belief, could actually be seen if one looked carefully. We ask how they could not see the ships…they were so obvious, so real…yet others would ask how we cannot see things just as obvious.”

It's hard to imagine not being able to see a large ship out in a harbor. Did the natives really not see the ships? We can never know the true answer, but it is an interesting myth to ponder.

For me, this legend reminds me that I may not always be able to see or understand what is going on around me. It's humbling to consider that I may completely miss something due to my own inability to process the information. It's a good reminder that there are many things going on around us that we may or may not be aware of. Also, two people sharing the same experience could have a completely different understanding of the same experience.

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