The Other the Merrier

The mast went up on our sailboat yesterday.  My wife and I went down to Hamilton Bay in the morning, did a little more work on the mast light and main sail’s halyard.  While we were working on our boat, there were sailors drifting in and out, working on their boats and sharing requisite gibes with one another.  After a quick lunch we got the mast ready for raising by the crane, where we bumped into Paul.

Paul is a bit of a character.  He is probably one of the friendliest guys I know, with a heart of gold, and some of the strangest views about pretty much everything.  We gave Paul a hand with his mast, and he returned the favour.  Rob, Calvin and Matt stopped by.  The language was colourful, as is wont to be the case when sometimes bull-headed men debate the relative merits of a rope being on this side, or that, of this or that.  I chuckle a lot at the repartee of this rag tag community.  The best line (herein edited) went something like this:  “If we could hook this crank up to your mouth we’d get this mast up a lot quicker.”   Feel free to supply the excised expletives as you see fit, should you decide to use it yourself.

The boating community is sometimes quite quirky, and really rather diverse.  Plumber and teachers, doctors and engineers, social workers and businessmen alike gather at the marina.  A common interest draws together some otherwise utterly uncommon characters.  Being together with such a disparate community is half the fun of sailing.  But it isn’t only the difference, or the otherness of one another that makes these communities work.  We gather together around something that we have in common.  Our differences don’t exactly disappear in our common interest, but they are radically re-ordered.  Community arises in a common cause.

In an interesting way, the marina works contra the current of contemporary culture.    Our computers, to advance one example, find out what we like based on sites we visit and flavour advertisements to our presumed consumer profile.  Technology profiles us for efficiency’s sake, and in so doing upends the possibilities of bumping into advertisements, or articles, or people that are unlike us or our interests.    Many forces herd us into communities of the like-minded.

We are, in my estimation, desperately in need of occasions that introduce us to people, or ideas, or worldviews that are alien to us.  Society historically made use of many institutions to draw together disparate peoples.  This still remains true to some extent, but “the times, they are a’changin,” as the bard sings.  But it is still a gift to rub elbows with people who are different, and for that reason, interesting, if not sometimes annoying.  Of course that interaction is gift times two when it involves a boat, or a book, or a whatever.  Where are some places that you meet characters who enrich your life?


10 thoughts on “The Other the Merrier

  1. Marie Taylor says:

    As always, I enjoyed your blog and made me wish I was a sailor. 🙂

    • agjorgenson says:

      Perhaps you can take lessons? Actually, I enjoy watching sailboats, and boats generally, almost as much as being on them. Part of it is simply the joy of being at the water. Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. diannegray says:

    I’ve had a similar experience recently with the guys who have come in to do the carpentry work on my house. Very expletive and very different from myself. Last week one of the guys asked me why I write if I don’t make a lot of money out of it. From the roof I heard a fellow yell out, ‘It’s called PASSION, you ^##@%!’ LOL – it’s very interesting to say the least! 😉

  3. agjorgenson says:

    That is too funny! There must be some way to massage the “From the mouth of babes…” aphorism. Thanks for this!

  4. Denise Hisey says:

    🙂 When I ride my motorcycle I definitely meet some guys (and sometimes gals, too) with ‘colorful’ language. They are also a ragtag bunch from all walks of life. It’s a great experience fitting in with a group I’d probably never otherwise socialize with. Very similar to your boating community, it sounds like.

  5. shoreacres says:

    This is a complicated issue. You’re exactly right that the algorithms designed by such folksie companies as Google are designed to do only two things: appeal to what we’ve already indicated is of interest to us, and make money in the process.

    On the other hand, much of the delight in life depends on curiosity, discovery, serendipity. Internet “searching” isn’t going to bring us much that’s surprising unless we really work at it, because we’re the ones who set the parameters with our key words. That’s one reason I read as broadly as I do. A copy of “The New Yorker” magazine may have only a page or two that’s of interest, but it still can set me thinking about something I’d never have considered.

    On the third hand – and this is really quite interesting to me – I never, ever, in twenty-two years of boatyard life have heard the kind of language that commonly appears on Twitter, internet forums, in certain forms of “entertainment” and so on. Of course there are plenty of garden variety curse words, and yes, the “F” word gets some play. But the kind of truly despicable language and slurs I see on the internet is horrid.

    In many cases, even though the language and behavior is totally alien to me and might be “interesting”, I want nothing to do with it. After all these years I’ve come to agree with the old wisdom – we need to chose our friends carefully, because who we are will be formed in some degree by who they are. A diverse community is delightful. A community dedicated to degrading those on the outside? Not so much.

  6. agjorgenson says:

    Hi Linda, yes there usually is a third hand! I, too, would say that the boating community – rather like the curling community that entertains me in the winter – is generally a very respectful group of people. What I find most enjoyable about both is that they provide me opportunity to rub shoulders with people who live in such different worlds: I have learned about feed supplements for cattle – to cite one example – from a friend whom I met curling. But I appreciate your concerns about degrading activities etc and find small mindedness and exclusionary activities to be not so much “other” as all together too familiar.

  7. jannatwrites says:

    It’s true that we do tend to associate with people who are like us. There’s not a lot of diversity. We don’t sail, but we’ve talked to people of all ages/professions when we hit the hiking trails. Since we’re all dressed in clothes we don’t mind sweating in and hiking boots, there are no cues really to indicate that we are different – this comes out in discussions had over water breaks or creek crossing.

  8. agjorgenson says:

    It is true. There are a thousand different ways to meet people who are different. It all depends on your willingness, or not, to reach out a hand, or to step out of your comfort zone. Good on you for making the effort!

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