by Guest Columnist David Beede
Life as Spectator Sport
Music and boats share a lot of parallels for me it
seems. I recall after getting into music as a kid, I began to play guitar and write songs,
yet I was very uninspired by the popular music at the time (Of course now that it's
"retro" I enjoy it.) Then I went to my first folk festival in Boone North
Carolina and was surrounded by dulcimers, and banjos and hammered dulcimers, and music
that had been made up and sung and passed along for hundreds of years, and it changed my
life. I began making music and building musical instruments for the next 20ish years.
Similarly, my first wooden boat festival was a balm to my fiberglass
tortured soul! Same kind of feeling of coming home.
(Caution, here come the ranting part.)
Our culture has this nasty habit of taking many of the activities of
life that used to be participated in regularly by everyday folks and turning them into
spectator sports. You are either a "musician" or you are the audience. We do the
same with sports, humor, dancing, storytelling and lately I've come to see boating
embodies the same dynamics. There was a time, I'm told, (See Howard Chapelle's American
Small Sailing Craft) in communities in proximity to water, that it was not so un-common
for ordinary folks to fasten some planks together and make a skiff and get out on the
water. ('Twas almost the equivalent of teenagers getting their drivers license these
days.) Today, if most of the magazine on store shelves are to be believed, boating is an
eclection of fiberglass, and gel coat and stainless steel and teak bright work and
expensive electronics, available primarily to the moneyed elite.
"Don't try this at home folks! We're the professionals here.
Just leave it all to us, and get out your credit cards."
Nothing pleases me more than to see people overcome this cultural programming and pick up
an instrument and start playing music, or writing songs - or better yet - borrow some
tools and make an instrument and learn to play it, or a boat and learn to sail it.
A more hands on approach to life results in more interested, interesting and fulfilled
human beings with all that that implies to a community. (end of rant.) So get your hands
dirty. As the T-shirts at the community boat building
Just Build It!
(evolved from an email to a friend) David J.