The Truth About Mermaids



The Mermaids are doing well.  A lot of folks are reading Watching for Mermaids, and seem to love it.  But one thing strikes me as odd.  No one writes to me about the veracity of all this.  Mermaids, it seems, are an assumed fiction.  Folks either assume I’m writing of a fantasy or that I did see two mermaids and I’m delusional.

Not believe in mermaids?

When you think about it, the only limits to all of us are our own life experience and the scope of our imagination.  What’s beyond that?

I remember watching the show Twilight Zone as a young boy, looking into Rod Serling’s eyes as he looked out at me from the small tube of our black and white television set.  How did he get there, into that box, and then out to me?  I wondered.  It seemed like magic.  Impossible.  But there he was.  Adults understood this because, well, there he was.  But imagine if, back in those days (and even as recent as 20 years ago) someone said they could pull a small piece of plastic out of their pocket while standing, say, by a rocky beach on the Maine coast, speak a number into this lighted gadget, and then be almost instantly connected to, let’s say, a worker standing near a rice field in Indochina.  Could that be possible?   Now we hardly think twice about it.

That’s why in Watching for Mermaids, I led with the Rod Serling quote about how reality is only something created by man to dignify his limitations.

So what is “real” and what is imagined?  My grandfather was a New York City physician whose horse-drawn ambulance driver was the father of one Virginia O’Hanlon, the little girl who wrote and asked the editor of the New York Sun for the truth about whether there really was a Santa Claus.  That letter, the editor’s now famous ‘Dear Virginia’ column responding to her question, has become the most reprinted editorial in the English language.  Why?  Read it again and see what you believe.  Of course, speaking of the unbelievable, you can just ‘Google’ it!

So that brings us to the Truth About Mermaids.   Why has that myth endured for so many centuries — since at least the 15th century, when mermaid sightings were often in ships’ logs?…since Shakespeare wrote of them in A Midsummer Night’s Dream…since Hollywood first made movies and cartoons about them.

As I wrote in one of the Big Red stories (Watching Vastness) in my book, we humans are made up of 72% water, the earth’s surface is about 72% water, we most likely evolved from fish, and as humans every one of us, male or female, came from a woman, having been rejected from a sac of … you guessed it:  water.





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