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?