People drive around in Mercedes cars or BMWs and the whole point seems to be having that very expensive hood ornament that you can push into other people's faces.
How silly! Who would dedicate their lives to earning enough money to guarantee an existence of brand fulfillment?
But, then, on further reflection, I begin to see the point. Status is incredibly valuable. Put in the plainest terms, if you have status, you live longer. (Read about the Whitehall Study. It's fascinating.)
So if status grants you a longer life (and all sorts of other benefits in terms of happiness and access to high-quality mates and so on and so on) then of course people will go to great lengths to pursue it. And a BMW badge on the hood of your car is what evolutionary biologists would call an honest signal of quality. You can't just gin up a luxury car in your garage. You have to buy one, and they cost a lot, and so having one is a difficult-to-fake signal of your status in the society.
Not that dedicating your life to earning enough money to drive a fancy car isn't an ugly trap. But there is an unarguable logic to the trap.
And all this has anything to do with sailing....how?
|Motoring towards the Caribbean side of the Canal. A vast field of anchored shipping, all waiting to get through|
Suddenly, we were cool.
Yachties when meeting each other almost never ask the normal first question of land life - What do you (or did you) do for a living?
That would be grotesquely poor manners in the life afloat. Plus the answer would usually be too dull for words, anyway.
But yacthies meeting each other do typically ask about each other's program. Where have you been? Where are you bound?
A lot of sailors in the Caribbean are just starting out. So when we tell people about where we've been, we find ourselves suddenly rocketing to the head of the sailing hierarchy.
Both in the Alaska work boat world, and among the highly-accomplished sailors whom it has been our pleasure to get to know since we left Alaska, we've noticed that there is a strong correlation between ability and humility. The most accomplished people don't have to spend time letting you know how good they are.
I hope that we follow that example and don't spend much time trumpeting our accomplishments. But for all that, Alisa and I both noticed how...good...it felt to be held in esteem by new acquaintances. We had a version of social status that we were unused to. And it was a very pleasant elixir. I wonder if we weren't just noticing the feeling of our blood pressure going down.
Whether or no, I think that's all over now that we're on the Pacific side. Most of the boats here are about to jump off on very large trips indeed, on some of the greatest adventures that it is possible to have on your own boat. And we are, once again, just another boat in the pack.
Which is fine with us, of course. We'll fall back on that Hiscockian thing of leading a life that has you thinking well of yourself, rather than measuring yourself through other people's opinions.
|An early touchstone of commonality between our line handler Denise and the Galactics - Denise likes Tin Tin, too!|