A proper sailing craft like the ship the Polynesians developed makes a near-perfect metaphor for the larger powers we gain through culture. It gives our malleable genomes, imaginative minds, and clever hands the power to transform even the strongest forces in our environment—wind, water, current—from threat to opportunity. Let the wind rise to a howl and raise a great sea; we needn’t stay home or become flotsam, for we can change tack, trim sail, and become what amounts to a different vessel. To the Lapita looking out from the eastern tip of the Solomons, a vast ocean before them, such a boat would offer something like a new set of legs. Tiller in hand and new isles in their minds, they could press on in their journey around the globe.
It’s enough to move even a Max Planck geneticist. Ana Duggan, telling me of these boats in Leipzig, confessed she was by nature not the sailing type. But this bigger boat we were talking about—just the idea of that boat—seemed to rouse her inner mariner.
“If someone pulled up to shore in one of those and said, ‘Look at my big fancy boat. I can go far,’ ” she mused, “I’d get in.”"
It’s not perfect, but this winter is pretty dreamy. Living with a wonderful man a few minutes’ walk from the Mediterranean. My days are filled with writing, dancing, eating as much tahini as possible, and sunshine. Sorry for the lack of updates. Come visit.