Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friends

As Tim mentioned in a previous post, I lost a very good 4-legged friend in recent days. Reminiscing about the unconditional friendship that dog gave me for many years led to general thoughts on the subject, and the fact that so much of what appeals about cruising to sailors is the development of friendships. I've been thinking a lot about the issue since then.

Sailing has opened up the door to more friendships for us than any other activity we've been involved with and I've been turning that thought over in my mind trying to decide exactly why that is. In the aviation world there's a huge amount of arrogance, some justified I suppose by the amount of work required to attain the various certifications and hours of experience, and in the motorcycling world an enormous amount of testosterone, neither of which are conducive to the kind of quick, easy friendships that last a long time. Enter sailing, and within 4 months we have a long roster of friends that would spend the day helping us fix our engine in 100 degree heat, just for the asking and a few bottles of the brew of choice. There's no ridicule because your skills aren't as good as the tenants in the next slip, in fact, only an excessive amount of encouragement and acknowledgment that "we've all been there before" Laughter is in abundance, and solid advice flows as freely as the rum and coke. People look out for each other and each other's boats, and when they ask how you've been they genuinely want to know. Going to the marina always means a good dose of "Cheers".

So why is this? At first I thought it was because sailing can be a humbling experience...you know the idea of not being able to properly control a machine going a whopping 4 knots. But aviation can also be humbling, and I've been humbled more times than I care to think about on the various bikes I've owned over the years. I suppose it may have something to do with the fact that both aviation and motorcycling tend to draw the severest of the Type-A personalities, but I threw that idea out fairly quickly because so many sailors are also pilots and motorcyclists. After a lot of mulling over this for a week I felt like I was still where I began.

Well...not quite, maybe, because I did manage to come to the conclusion that some things are just better not explained. Friendship in any walk of life is a mystery, and the gift of it, (and the giver), is something not to be taken for granted. It involves trust and caring and empathy and giving and it's most brutal enemy is neglect. The passing of my good buddy Itchy Dog has left a lot of people who loved him hurting, but it has done one good thing. It's made me thankful for each of you I call friend. Good hunting Itchy...

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