Satellite Maps, Panic Attacks, and a Healthy View of Self

I have an odd fear that can only be explained by the undeniable frailty of life.

I am afraid of the blue on maps.

More specifically, the vast blue on satellite images as can be seen on Google World or Google Maps.

If I drag a little too far over with my mouse, or accidentally zoom too far in, in the wrong direction and find myself in the middle of the ocean, I get an eerie, almost panicky feeling, and will try to return as quickly as possible to the land, to terrain, to familiar places that – even if I haven’t visited – I can call by name. Stumbling upon foreign countries becomes amazingly comforting in these situations.

The ocean is big. It is unfamiliar. It has names, but with no real lines, no real boundaries, those names are so vague and broad they almost lose their meaning. On satellite images the ocean strikes me as raving mad with waves bigger than mountains, “bigger than Bakersfield,” as my husband said. Waves that aren’t really waves but are lines that reflect the depth of the sea. Caverns and pits deeper and darker than any deep or dark I know. Except maybe the dark of my soul. And all drama aside, that may just be one of the reasons I divert my eyes as I quickly navigate back to dry land, all from the apparent safety of my computer screen.

That, and of course, the confrontation that I am quite possible the smallest, most insignificant thing on planet earth and that if that blue could take up an entire computer screen for several minutes while I desperately scroll, the ocean could very well swallow me without a blink.

I don’t fear the beach (where my feet can feel warm -albeit unstable-in the sand.) I mildly fear wading or even swimming in the ocean, but more so for the seaweeds and creatures with which my feet could meet. I’ve flown over the ocean and taken a boat ride across a stretch of ocean without any panic attacks. But I still remember how my insides catch in my throat every time a plane I am in has to cross the gulf or when I stop looking at scenery long enough to realize below me and all around me  is more than I have ever known.

This could be an irrational fear.

I hear statistics say I am more likely to die from a coconut falling on my head than from a plane crashing into the ocean (and I imagine a boat sinking, or even a tsunami, doesn’t climb too much higher on the risk scale.)

You really could say fearing a picture of the ocean then, is only that much more irrational, even crazy. Not near as justifiable as fearing the ocean itself.

But there’s a part of me that believes the cringing, the trepidation, the intimidation could be a good sign. Enough so that I would do well to think about it more than the every so often that I find myself lost on a map.

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the LORD on high is mighty.”
– Psalm 93:4

Or in other words…

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
– Hebrews 10:31


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