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Sailboats and Narrative

February 13, 2015

About 2 days ago my oldest son expressed an interest in joining the Merchant Marine. He wants, I think, to spend enough time in the Merchant Marine to at least make First Mate, perhaps even Master. While doing that, he’d like to learn to sail. His probable long term goal is to buy his own sailboat or motor sailer. He’d live aboard the vessel and charter it out for blue water cruises. It’s an interesting idea and one that is doable if he’s willing to put in the time and effort. i believe he is.

Today, he told me the city of Newport Beach, CA purchased all the private moorings in its waters and then declared private moorings illegal. He’s really annoyed. While I don’t know the reasons the city made such decisions, the conversation led to some interesting observations, largely because of his comment that boaters, especially live aboard boaters “deny the narrative.” So, too, he noted, do farmers, hunters and fishermen. That sounds good, especially if you’re of my particular political persuasion but it doesn’t answer a vitally important question: is it true? I think it is.

Narrative isn’t simply the story, it is the telling of the story. It both reflects and is the view a person has of the nature of reality. If your narrative is that people need to happily stay put, work at a regular job and depend upon government or an employer to live any kind of meaningful life (or even to survive), a person who kills, catches or grows all or most of his food is not all that likely to believe you. The same is true of a person who quite literally has the ability to pull anchor and head off for almost any port in the world. It’s even more true of a person who has a computer and any kind of connection to the ‘net. Depending on how much “stuff” he or she wants or needs, much of what people take for granted as being essential suddenly become relatively or even completely unimportant. More than a person who complains about the current system, such people are a true threat to the narrative because they serve as living examples that it is possible to live a full and fulfilling life outside the system. This threat to the narrative is not simply a threat to what I see as a nonexistent conspiracy to enslave citizens. Rather, it is a threat to the most basic and fundamental view some people have of the world. Most people are unable to tolerate such a threat because it doesn’t just suggest there is something wrong with their conclusions. It suggests there is something wrong with them.

If we accept that narrative both reflects and is the view a person has of the world, we can see how widespread is the resistance to any challenge to the prevailing narrative. Regardless of the narrative you challenge, political, economic, social, religious or philosophical, you do so at your own risk. If you serve as a living example of how one can live a life independent of the world the narrative portrays, you constitute a particularly odious threat to the narrative.

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