Monday, April 25, 2011

Disorientation and adaptation

There is a word for this: that feeling of being in familiar surroundings that are somehow not right.  Where there are enough cues to make you feel that all is as it should be, but then there are others that are dissonant and contradict that.  My vocabulary is inadequate to the task of putting the word to it (perhaps one of you out there will help me).

Nevertheless, I think I have described the feeling well enough that you can follow along with me.  This weekend was full of that feeling.

First, I spent days mentally preparing myself for having our home hoisted out of its natural element and propped up on land, on blocks and stands.   And when that happens, life aboard (is that still the right term?) changes dramatically.  I've talked about it before - you can't run water down any of the drains, you can't run the refrigerator (it is water cooled) or the heat pump (also water cooled).  Which means that cooking changes dramatically, and that using the bathroom means a trip down a 12-foot step ladder and a walk across the yard and thru a locked gate.  Also, your days are full to the brim with work, so that you are exhausted at nightfall.  And eating out is the norm (see cooking, above).

Nevertheless, despite the mental prep work, when the actual event happens, there is still disorientation.  Looking forward, you see your bowsprit in the trees instead of over the water.

And the boat is still.  It feels dead, somehow.  And tho it may not make it into your conscious awareness, this troubles you while you sleep.  Which means, of course, that you sleep poorly.

But humans are remarkably adaptable.  Our brains have evolved to assimilate our surroundings, and make them familiar.  My theory is this is so that as much as possible of life is put onto subconscious autopilot, freeing up the conscious for more important tasks.  So after a couple of days, you adapt.  It is no longer remarkable that the sinks are not usable, or that your hands are always dirty and you are always sore and tired.  This becomes "normal", and you really don't think about it.  And then you *do* sleep at nite.

Ah, but then everything changes again.  The boat is picked up and re-introduced to water.  And as valves are opened and systems are brought back online, once again the disorientation returns - the subconscious programs in the autopilot are again no longer valid.

There are people who push adaptability hard - military folks, business people, pastor's families, musicians, cruisers.  They move frequently or travel extensively; they go thru change constantly.  Amazingly, human adaptability is able to make constant change into the constant, and put it into the subconscious autopilot.  These people then undergo disorientation when they cease the constant travel and/or moving - we say they "have itchy feet," or they are "footloose".

For us this past weekend, the haulout was so quickly accomplished that we never reached accommodation with life on the hard.  And yet, going back into the water was still disorienting.

But is is good to be afloat again.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...