Where is that thing right in front of me?

Where is that thing right in front of me?

I hate to make myself an example of a certain stereotype of my sex, but I’m here to confess to having very little spacial sense. Perhaps this is why Master Packer Alan can so impress me with his packing skills. Judging distance seems to be an especially difficult thing. I can look at a piece of knitting and guess with a pretty good accuracy how many inches I have, but get into bigger sizes or units and I’m lost pretty quickly. Unless I’ve looked at my odometer to be sure, you’ll never get driving directions from me that include actual units of distance.

Out on the water, I’m lost even more quickly. You can see things that are so far away, I completely lose any normal sense of where things are. A quick Google search led me to a formula you can use to calculate the distance to the horizon, based on the height of your eye. To figure out the distance to objects at the horizon, however, you have to also know how tall the object you’re looking at is. That would require actually knowing WHAT the object you’re looking at is, for even an intelligent guess at the distance.

(Oh look, we’re close to that lighthouse! We may as well go 20 miles out of our way to get a really good look at it, right?)

For the most part, I can deal with my inability to tell where things really are. It’s not such a big deal. So it looks like we’re about to run right into that marker forever. I really will be able to tell when we’reĀ actually close to it. My real problem is at night. Suddenly that inability to judge distance becomes really, really scary. Actually I was okay at first. It became really scary the night of our great escape from St. Clement’s Island. When Alan turned on the spotlight and shined it on that unlit marker that we really had come too close to for comfort, I got super duper spooked. I avoided steering at night as much as possible after that, and I noticed as I looked around that all the lights looked like they were the same distance away. All of them. Is that the marker that’s close to us, the marker that’s farther away? Even worse, all the lights on land looked just as close (or far away) as the other lights. That really messed with my head.

Any tips for figuring out how to get a better sense of things? That feeling of being so terribly unsure of where I fit into my surroundings as I perceive them is kinda awful.