Humans have the capacity to take momentous accomplishments for granted, reminds Claude Singer of the Brandsinger consulting firm:

While cruising across the Atlantic in 5 or 6 hours at 35,000 feet, I sometimes think of the sailing ship Mayflower, which crossed from England to Massachusetts in 1620 with 102 passengers—about the typical number for an Embraer jet or an early 737. Passengers set sail on September 9 and didn’t set foot on land again until November 11—nearly 10 weeks at sea.

The Mayflower passengers were stuffed in the ‘tween deck—an airless space less than five feet high—and instead of a few hours with a boring salesman, they lived for 65 days smashed among chests, children and chamber pots. The Mayflower passengers lived on slimy water from the bottom of casks and showed signs of scurvy—bleeding gums and bad breath.

When the Mayflower passengers sickened and vomited in the rolling seas, one sailor cursed and laughed at them, boasting that he’d be casting half of them overboard before they reached the terminal…er, the New World. As it turned out, that sailor died of an agonizing disease and was himself the first tossed overboard.

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