Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leaves You Satisfied... and Wanting More

The problem with Laser sailing (at least for me) is that every time I go sailing I come off the water feeling satisfied with my day... and yet... and yet I still want more.

I guess it's not really a problem. It's a feature.

But the observation got me pondering about the different kinds of experiences...

First of all there are the bad ones. Like breaking your leg, poking yourself in the eye with a stick, getting stung by a bee, or listening to Barry Manilow. Nobody ever says after doing one of these things, "Hmmm, that was fun. Now I wonder if it would be even more fun to poke the stick in my other eye?"

Then there are two kinds of good experiences: the ones you are quite happy to experience once and be done with it; and the kinds that leave you satisfied... and yet wanting more.

In the latter category are such things as having sex, drinking beer and playing sudoku (not necessarily simultaneously.)

Most people don't say after having sex for the first time, "Hmmm, that was OK I guess. Well I've done it now. No need to do it again." No, most folk think, "Wow! Why didn't anybody explain it was this good? When can I have some more?"

Beer, in some ways, is even better than sex. Nobody expects you to stick with the same brand of beer your whole life. Nobody calls you depraved if you drink three beers every day in different places with different people. Nobody thinks it weird if you have a beer on an airplane. It leaves you satisfied... and yet wanting more.

Sudoku... well, I wouldn't say it is better than beer or sex. But I am always satisfied when I solve a sudoku puzzle... and yet I always want to do another one. I guess it's not for everyone though.

But there are some good(ish) experiences that do generate that response of, "Gee, that was pretty OK, I guess. I'm sort of glad I did it. Don't really feel the need to do it again though." In this category I would place such adventures as watching the New England Patriots play at Gillette Stadium, visiting the Great Wall of China, and staying a weekend in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a very fine city if you like that kind of thing. It has a lot of history and museums and stuff. It has a rather fine old cracked bell with my name on it. It has some major professional sports teams, including a baseball team that lost to my favorite team in the World Series last year. It has a sandwich containing steak and melted cheese that some people say they like. It has a couple of rivers. It even has a Laser fleet. Tillerwoman and I spent a weekend there a few years back. It was good. But it left me with no urge to repeat the experience in this lifetime. Not at all like sex, or beer... or even sudoku.

I have to say that the sort of sailing known as "cruising" is in the same category as visiting Philadelphia for me. By cruising I mean going for a sail on a boat of length in the 30-50 foot range on which you cook and eat and do washing-up and sleep and shit and pee with a group of close friends and/or family for a period of more than one day and in which you attempt to sail from point A to point B and perhaps back to point A without racing other boats and with no other purpose in mind other than to enjoy going from point A to point B and perhaps back to point A and to do some boat maintenance along the way.

I've done that. I had a friend who was a serious ocean-going cruiser who had crossed the Atlantic in his boat a couple of times and retraced Viking routes etc. etc. He took me and some other friends out on his boat one weekend. It was very kind of him. It was an interesting(ish) experience. I learned a lot, such as what a winch looks like when you take it to pieces and how to shit on a boat. But it didn't leave me wanting to do it again. Any more than I particularly want to see that bell in Philadelphia again. Been there, done that.

Laser sailing, on the other hand, is more like sex or beer than Philadelphia. Even an iffy sort of day like the racing last Tuesday evening leaves me satisfied... and yet wanting more.

So I went sailing again on Wednesday. But that's another story for another post.

Honey... are you in the mood for a bit of sudoku?


Baydog said...

I'm covering my ears and saying La La La very loudly. TMI

Is your name really on the Liberty Bell?

Baydog said...

I should have read it first.

Pass? Cool.

harrymvt said...

And I'd always thought that "Pass and Stow" were instructions!

Baydog said...

Pass and who?

Harry Martha's Vermont: You'd always thought?

Time to bone up on my American history.

harrymvt said...

@Baydog: I grew up in the town in PA where the Liberty Bell was hidden from the British during the Revolutionary War. A full-size replica sits in the church basement where the original was hidden, so I first read "Pass & Stow" at a very young age.

Incidentally, my British wife grew up in the same town as Tillerman, and had the exact same reaction to seeing the Liberty Bell: "Bell, cracked, fine, good -- next!"

Tillerman said...

Good for Mrs. Harrymvt.

The whole liberty bell story told to American children and gullible American tourists is, sadly, a myth. Historians seriously doubt the tale that it was rung in 1776 to call the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence, on account of the fact that the steeple in which it was hanging was in such bad condition.

O Docker said...

What has always fascinated me is that some of us seem to absolutely need competition while others don't. I think you either have the racing gene or you don't.

I've had some pretty good times racing keelboats. I just don't need to be racing to be happy in a boat.

Sometimes I like just noodling around, with maybe only one sail up and no particular place to go - something I think would drive most racers nuts.

For me, there's something magic about just being out there, just making a sailboat go - something very primal that I still don't quite understand.

If I ever figure it out, it's going to make for one hell of a blog post.

Baydog said...

Which town, Harry?

O Docker, I agree with you. Just getting out there is often the most important thing. But nothing gets your blood pumping like a screaming reach on an E-scow with the chute up, weaving in and out of rowboats that are anchored within the racecourse, crabbing with chicken legs tied to the end of a string.

Tillerman said...

I agree with you Docker. I like noodling too. Noodling on my Laser doesn't drive me nuts at all. But I also like sleeping in my own bed on dry land after a spot of noodling.

Baydog - Mrs Harrymvt and I both come from Grantham in the county of Lincolnshire famous as the place at which both Sir Isaac Newton and "that bloody woman" went to school.

EscapeVelocity said...

I take it you are not referring to noodling in the catfish sense?

I don't need to be racing to be happy on a boat when it's a nice day and I'm by myself or with friends. When it's fifty degrees and pouring rain and I'm with a bunch of random strangers I probably don't want to be discussing the meaning of life with, then--well, I wouldn't be there if I weren't racing so I suppose it's sort of hard to say.

Tillerman said...

You've Gotta Be Nuts To Noodle For Catfish.

Baydog said...

I've seen a clip of noodling for catfish and that is completely insane shit.

Tillerman, I'm sorry. Who is the bloody woman?

WV: Oventic. Noise a wind-up kitchen timer makes.

Tillerman said...

"That bloody woman" was a phrase used by many in Britain, including (out of her hearing) some of her colleagues in government, to refer to the grocer's daughter from Grantham who served as the UK Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.

harrymvt said...

Baydog: Rhymes with "catcher."

Back on topic, I started sailing on an old 15-foot English racing dinghy (class unknown), but never had the urge to race (especially in circles). I've since moved on to a keeled sloop, currently just day-sailing, but plan on cruising eventually. All depends on your temperament, I guess.

P.S. Mrs Harrymvt told me she prefers to be called English, rather than British. :)

Tillerman said...

Oh god Harry, don't confuse all your fellow United Statesians here. It's hard enough for them to tell Brits from Canadians from South Africans from Australians. Once you get into explaining the difference between Great Britain and The British Isles and The United Kingdom their eyes start to glaze over. And they never seem to understand that British and English aren't the same thing at all. When I really want to blow their minds I try and convince them that Venezuelans and Canadians are Americans too.

Pat said...

And do you explain to them the tax status of businesses on the Isle of Man or Channel Islands?

Or is that reserved for sailors who swot for an International Certificate of Competence in Yot Finance?

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