The Big 150: 1, World- What event do you think impacted the world the most?
Oh, wonderful. I’m so happy to see we’re starting out this journey with something easy. What event do I think impacted the world the most?
I’d love to say the Industrial Revolution, but I don’t think that’s what had the biggest impact on the world if I give myself a few extra moments to think. It would be easy for me to say the IR because it feels like an easy given and it is, admittedly, the first thing that pops to mind, but sitting with the question for a few minutes led me to an answer that predates the Industrial Revolution. My brain is exploding, so buckle up.
I remember living in Dublin and visiting the National Museum of Archaeology. While I did enjoy visiting several times to see the bog bodies (I promise this is not a post about the bog bodies or how I took everyone who visited me to see them), I was enthralled by the Viking boat on display - a hollowed out tree that served to bring Vikings across the seas to the Irish coast.
Irish history aside, seeing that ship in person got me thinking: could the invention of the boat have been the event that most impacted the world?
Now, it should be said that living in Ireland changed me - I miss it terribly, think of my little one bedroom flat in Rathmines almost daily, and am constantly checking flight prices to go back (they’re pretty cheap for mid-January FYI) - but it also got me thinking of why it took living in another country and seeing a Viking ship to make me think of the invention of the boat as the most impactful event.
You see, I grew up in a small town in Southern New Jersey where high schools and summer camps, alike, have Native American Indian names. I remember visiting my little town’s cemetery, located in the dead center of town (pun intended), and using a crayon and paper over Princess Indian Anne’s grave to learn how to make a grave rubbing. Huh.. that seems a little morbid in retrospect now that I’m writing it given we were in elementary school, but I digress.
So, why bring up the story of the time I went grave rubbing on a stranger’s tombstone when I was 8? Because I spent many a number of times as a kid going out in canoes with friends at Camp Inawendiwin or Matollionequay or on friends’ boats at the Jersey shore. I literally rowed in a boat many mornings in college as stroke seat on the crew team at Villanova, own both a SUP and a kayak, and yet it took seeing a Viking boat at the Museum of Archaeology in Dublin to make things click.
If the boat had never been invented, think of all the lands that would never have been invaded, the people who would not have faced oppression. There would have been many injustices that perhaps wouldn’t have come to fruition. That being said, without boats, oppressed people facing hardships in their own countries wouldn’t be able to seek asylum elsewhere. The world would not be as globally connected as it is now, and even goods wouldn’t be able to be shipped overseas. Living in Dublin and shopping at my local markets in Rathmines, most of the groceries I purchased were imports from other countries in the EU. (Shoutout to Spanish olives, Italian pasta, and good old Frank's Red Hot. This is not an ad.)
The Pesse Canoe is the oldest ship to ever be recovered. It’s believed to date back to 8000 BCE, during the Mesolithic Period. It’s apparently on display in Assen, Netherlands at the Drents Museum, so I’ll now be redirecting my flight searches to the Netherlands instead of Dublin (and here’s to hoping Team USA defeats the Netherlands on Saturday in the World Cup… USA USA USA!). I never knew I’d have such an interest in water vessels and cartography, but here I am. Makes sense, though. Although I didn’t spend much time in the Map Room at boarding school because it had a weird reputation, I secretly loved passing by and sneaking a peek at the beautiful maps on the walls.
Yes, I have gone off on a few tangents, and, yes, there have been so many impactful events in the world. But I can’t help but think that without the boat, we wouldn’t have the other modes of transportation we have today. Boats made it possible for people to venture out into the great unknown, to fish and provide for their families, to travel and live beyond their own lands. We were a world separated by oceans that became a world connected by boats, which grew into a world connected in an infinite number of other ways. I can't help but think that the first person who asked 'what if we could fly in the sky above' was inspired and setup with the ally-oop from those who asked and then answered the question 'what if we could cross the seas?'
And yes, I also acknowledge that the tools created to make boats were incredibly impactful because how would you even make a boat without them?! But I don’t really want to play the ‘let’s keep researching’ game because that’s a rabbit hole I can’t afford to go down at the current moment because my brain would love to do that instead of the other responsibilities I have on my list for today. So I’m going to dock this ship instead of letting it set sail. (Sea what I did there?.. and there?)
And just in case you think I don't appreciate tools carving wood, let me direct you to this dreamy bed I drool over all the time that I saw in Cork like once. It was carved, it is beautifully smooth, and it is wood. (Also, I love Cork. This is me manifesting living there one day.)
In my introductory post for The Big 150, I said maybe we’ll learn something along the way, so here is today’s lesson: boats have and will outlive us all, and the older you get, the more surprising interests you’ll develop… and you’ll also realize that those kids who hung out in the boarding school Map Room were onto something.
Also, without boats, we wouldn't have Jack and Rose and the great debate on floating door sizes... or the Titanic Museum in Belfast, complete with a carnival ride.
lots of thoughts & nautical knots,
ICYMI: The Big 150