For the longest time, since coming into this body, I never knew my 'original' reason for incarnating in the first place, but after having a discussion with a friend - I think I now know.
You see, I'm not really interested in sea life, because that would be having an interest of what's inside my own home - to me, sea life is 'mundane'...an everyday sort of thing.
I'm more interested in mankind's relationship with me.
I'm interested in maritime trade, exploration, even naval wars - all these things involving mankind's involvment with me. I suppose you could say I've always been curious in a child-like way regarding man/mankind...observing his coming and going...the carrying of goods for his fellow man. His fighting of wars over my waters. His desire for exploration and travel.
"W. H. Auden's 'The Enchafed Flood' sets out the elements of the Romantic attitude to the sea that Melville typified. Every man of sensibility and honor desires to leave the trivial land to go voyaging, which is the true condition of man, and the sea is the place where 'the decisive events, the moments of eternal choice, of temptation, fall, and redemption occur.'"
This is why I have an interest in ships and maritime history - because it's about mankind's relationship to me. His struggles, his victories, his boring days, and days of excitement. The loss of life, the 'purity' of life so aptly summed up in a short statement by Alan Villiers:
"At sea, like that, you see the utmost 'innards' of a man - what he is made of. No subterfuges, no pretense of city life, no masking of real intents and real character will pass here; you see all."
Some might wonder why I am of male gender, when many refer to the Sea in the female gender (Mother Sea for example - because the sea literally gave birth to life on Earth). Well, the answer to that is quite simple:
"In all the casting back to him, the sailor has been many things: ruffian, Jack Tar, expendable article, able seaman, exploited worker, epitome of masculinity. In Melville's gaze, the sailor, detached from the ignoble land, voyaging on the infinite sea, is the most worthy of men: a seeker of truth."
"In order to get his ship from port to port, the sailor-truth seeker, or even the mere, unadorned square-rigger seaman, needed the established masculine qualities: fatalism; stoicism; physical courage; acceptance of a strict, cruel hierarchy; anger as an enabling response to fear; a self regulated domesticity. The corollary is that when square-riggers, and the seamen who sailed them, disappeared, so did a resevoir of traditional masculinity. These values began to seem more and more antique, unnecessary, even unhealthy and harmful. Because the sea is pre-eminently the realm of men, it came to seem less necessary and more remote as well. When we lost the wind ships and their seamen, we began to forfeit the sea itself."
*All quotes, except Alan Villiers, from 'The Way of A Ship' by Derek Lundy
It's like having an out of body experience in a way. It was a way to understand Man - but at the same time, I could not be far from the sea (myself)...in the sense of a soul wandering too far from its body. I had to live on the coast and out at sea - but that was entwined with my identity as well - the identity of being a ship's captain.