A brief excitement this week and then my hopes were dashed: a “tumblehome” hull does not do what its name says it should. You know, like you’re paddling along in your canoe or kayak, minding your own business and watching for kingfishers and great blue herons when Bam! You lean too far to one side and start to go over but the hull’s shape “tumbles” you “home” to an upright position.
It would be *such* a cool name.
Sadly, according to my non-resident naval expert, although a tumblehome hull seems like it has its centre of gravity lower in the water, its narrower-on-top shape is actually less stable than a flared hull in many sea conditions. My highly technical take on it is that once it starts to go there’s nothing to stop it, whereas a flared hull’s less-rollover-prone shape gives you one last chance.
But even though a tumblehome hull is an almost criminal waste of a nomenclature opportunity, a point which I’ll be taking up with naval authorities shortly, it did get me thinking about stability features in general. Once we “take on a list” on any given topic or in any area of our lives, what can keep us from capsizing with a giant sploosh?
If we enjoy a drink, what can keep us from getting drunk?
If we enjoy sweets, what can keep us from pigging out? If we diet, what can keep us from becoming anorexic?
If we get interested in something, what can keep us from becoming obsessed with it, even to the exclusion of all else?
If we see multiple possibilities in and for every situation, what can keep us from freezing with indecision?
If we think we know what’s true, what can keep us from setting up camp in Conspiracy Theory Land?
If we think we know what’s right, what can keep us from becoming dogmatic?
How do we get the human equivalent of a flared hull: Something that helps us right ourselves when we’re off-kilter instead of standing idly by as we go over?
Maybe many factors, but I think diversity plays a huge role. Not external diversity, or not directly, but internal diversity. A diversity of thought that quietly, even subconsciously, points out the limits of all good things as well as the limits of our knowledge and experience.
And how do we get this diversity? By reading? By travelling? By living in different places? By trying new things, learning new things, seeking out new experiences? By exposing ourselves to views we’re pretty sure we disagree with? By listening to people we don’t much like? By living in families and communities with people we trust and/or simply can’t avoid? By making friends of different ages, genders, backgrounds?
Yes. Any and all of these.
Finally, we can hang out with people who are less tippy than we are, less prone to capsize their ship of self. Especially when it’s an acquired capability, there’s always a chance their stability will rub off on us.
With thanks to M. Saker, Rear-Admiral (Retired).