Rowing, Cookies, Camaraderie, Rum!
I was excited when Lori (a friend in a virtual-writing-neighborhood) offered to take a look at a work-in-progress I recently posted about. I don’t have a critique group at the moment, but here was Lori offering to give the idea a fresh pair of eyes as I attempt the next major revision.
This kind of generosity, helpfulness, and encouragement in my writing communities made me reflect on my keelboat trip after Christmas. I had never met any of the men whom I was to travel with, and had only talked to the captain on the phone. I wasn’t sure what the trip was going to be like. They didn’t know me from Adam, and I didn’t know them at all. I didn’t know anything about keel-boating. This was my first re-enactment. How would they react to my mistakes? What if we hit a rough spot, and tensions rose?
Would I be a modern day Jonah, and get thrown overboard?
Within minutes, as I helped load the boat with tents and poles and water and gear, my anxieties eased. Humor and laughter helped. Being useful helped. And I gained confidence when Captain Ed and No-Nose tutored me on the fine points of survival:
- (1) keep a three-point connection to the boat at all times (e.g. two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot);
- (2) row in sync with the man in front of you (as a general rule);
- (3) have fun–we’re here to have fun.
Okay, I could handle that. And when the captain accepted my required 2-dozen cookies, and put them in the keg, I knew I was a crewman. From that point on I began to relish not just the journey, but a new camaraderie with the crew.
As we talked and rowed, I discovered we were a motley crew. A marine, a sailor, an engineer, a teacher, a statistician, a blacksmith, a preacher, and me. Despite our differences, we committed to our task, and every man put in the necessary ‘umphh’ and ‘grunt’ to accomplish our goal. We did hit a few rough spots–lost the push poles, lost an oar, raked a tree-top in a vicious bend. But they did not throw the odd new man overboard.
The diversity was delicious–like a keg-full of all kinds of cookies. The captain dispensed those cookies to us, passing the small keg around for each mid-morning or mid-afternoon break. The cookies, as a special delight, were critical–you expend a lot of energy rowing for an hour. To wash them down, we had a shot of rum. Good rum. Rum that warmed your insides again, and renewed your rowing gumption.
What could be better with cookies than a hearty beverage distilled from molasses, and shared with a crew who share a passion, who row together toward a common destination?
I realize, now, how critical a ‘crew’ is to a pursuit. Regardless of who serves as fellow sailors, all contribute if their goals are aligned–if they row together. But the rowing is a necessary part of the journey. With the rowing comes the delights.
That’s my keelboat crew. And that’s my writing community. I’m still rowing, and going to row and write onward. I hope that whatever passions you pursue, you have what I am blessed to have: rowing, cookies, camaraderie, and rum!