High on Adventure




Column and head-scratching photos by Steve Giordano

Did you know that about half the people you encounter in a day's time have an I.Q. of less than 100? That could explain a lot about the sort of day you're having.

Of course, the other half has an I.Q of more than 100. That stands to reason, since 100 is the average. One hundred is considered normal mental acuity for whatever your age might be.

So I suppose the sort of day you're having could depend on which half of the population you spend your time with. Many automobile drivers are in the lower half - the troglodytes.

  Three-legged Halloween costume  
What's wrong with this picture?

Troglodytes is a Greek word, still in common usage, to name people who creep into holes, or caves. They're not well-acquainted with world affairs, nor do they subscribe to community values.

The troglodytes among us creep out of their holes and into their cars. They drive like they're chasing down mastodons for dinner.

They're not, really. They're just driving to Costco or somewhere for a side of beef or a roasted chicken, but their hunter-gatherer Stone Age genes think they're in hot pursuit of a beast when they're behind the wheel of a car. You see them every day, turning across three lanes of traffic when they spy a bison or some other four-legged prey duck behind a building.

Fossilized palmetto palm
Fossilized palmetto palm, 50-60 million years old,
near Bellingham, Washington

The earliest known cave dwellers were French. That's not a reflection, necessarily, on the French people of today. It's just that stone tools a half million years old were found in a cave on the French Riviera. Older stone tools have been found, but not in caves.

In fact, the Stone Age began 2.5 million years ago, and ended, for most of us, 5,000 years ago with the Bronze Age.

  Bicycle graveyard   Dead deux-chevaux  
Bicycle graveyard, 10-15 years old
Dead deux chevaux, 40-70 years old

The Stone Age keeps on going for some of Earth's peoples, and it's from them that scientists learn about early lifestyles of the poor and unknown peoples of the past. Present day Stone-Agers live in New Guinea, Australia, and Brazil.

  No stone stacking sign   Walk your bike sign in snow  
Uh, OK...
...if you say so.

In some respects our Stone Age ancestors lived healthier lives than we do today. The reason is that their bodies and minds were in tune with their lifestyles. Their biology evolved and harmonized with the tasks required to stay alive.

  That evolution took place over a few million years. The lifestyle changes of the last 5000 have happened too quickly for our systems to adapt. In fact, humans haven't changed much in 35,000 years, and we're not likely to change anytime soon.  
Short garden hose
Troglodyte brainstorm

It's mainly during the last two hundred years, since the industrial revolution, that we've bunched together in huge groups in the name of human progress. Our society and institutions keep evolving, because our intellects have improved by leaps and bounds.

  High heel swim fins   But our biology can't catch up with the demands. That's where stress comes from. We haven't even adapted to electricity yet. But we love it. We want so much from ourselves and life that we even stay up impossibly late just so we don't miss anything and get a few extra things done.  

Some scientists suggest that we should adopt Stone Age ways to stay more in tune with ourselves. That might be pretty difficult. In early Stone Age time, only a few thousand people lived in all of Africa, and another few thousand in Asia.

They lived in groups of up to 50, and stayed with that group all their lives. Imagine spending your entire life with one small wandering group, and probably never seeing strangers.

Free tires

In the city, we encounter different groups of at least 50 people all day long. Your office might have 50 people you deal with, but you have lunch with another group of 50, grocery shop with yet another group of 50 and maybe go see a movie with a few hundred more.

We deal with groups of strangers all day long. No wonder we're stressed. We're always on alert to make sure the behaviors of others don't get into our personal space. All those troglodytes make us nervous.

Last Supper serving guinea pig
Guinea pig for 12 - The Last Supper
painted on the wall of a cathedral
in Cuzco, Peru by Marcos Zapata

About the Author

  Web manager Steve Giordano, past president of the Society of American Travel Writers, is a veteran ski and travel journalist & photographer whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, books, radio and television and many places around the Internet. He's written numerous travel books. Steve is the designer and technologist of HighOnAdventure.com and was the online and guidebook editor of SkiSnowboard.com. He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association and can be reached at rsgiordano@gmail.com.   Steve Giordano