Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fraternities, Gaggles and Groups

There is something in the human soul that moves it to seek out the company of its own kind, i.e., other humans. This birds-of-a-feather phenomena happens for many reasons.

Sometimes, especially during our youth and/or times of insecurity, we need to belong to a group simply to belong. Being part-of is validating and makes the world seem more friendly. If you were ever the kid not chosen in you know how strong this need can be. As it turns out, there is a bonus value to this kind of association: memories. And, some of these youthful associations last a lifetime. The fellow in the white shirt in the front row now lives in Florida and still manages my pension.

Sometimes we group together to form, well, to form a group. Bands and businesses are often necessary to order to achieve something whether it be artistic or financial. More over, these groups bring us together with others of like interests and, hopefully, together we become greater than the sums of the parts. As a musician, I am fascinated by the geometric increase of substance in the music of a simple duet over a soloist not to mentioin the monumental sound of a full orchestra. Being a single voice in such an effort can be a great source of joy.Family and clans (not to mention gangs) are another common grouping, the old blood being thicker than water thing. Here we staly in touch with our roots, find a place to be nurtured and have a refuge from the rest of the world. Here, too, generations exchange the wisdom of their times. Young men learn from the elders' experiences, and the elders get to serve the young warriors.

The bottom line in all these groups seems to be a basic sense of safety. Think, for a moment, how it would feel to be in one of these groups when the relationship goes badly.

I already mentioned the boy not chosen in. What about the young girl who has the misfortune to be the target of youthful taunting, an act done not in meaness but to make the taunters feel like they belong? What about a band or a business in which members have a falling out. At the very least there is a bad sound, at worst a financial disaster.

Now, take all this and aply it to kayaking:

...and you have it all in one microcosm. Here is a chance to belong to a group and, in my experience, a group almost always composed of fine folks. Here is a chance to belong, to be part of. Here is a place to find mentors...of all ages and to share in an ancient art. Last, and most certainly not least, here we find safety in what we are repeadedly told is an inherently dangerous undertaking.

Now, all we need is a name for a bunch of kayaks and kayakers. Groups is used by Yahoo, and gaggle brings to mind those birds that soil our launch sites. Fraternity doesn't work for me, even though it suggests tight bonding. It also suggests exclusivity. Family may be a bit much. Gang doesn't cut it. Hmmm, I just don't know. Now I have a problem. Perhaps I need to discuss this with others.

Paddle safe...



JohnB said...

Perhaps we should gather for coffee, in mass, with an easel and chart paper and markers and painter's tape. Then we can begin to brainstorm ideas--all ideas go on the paper, when one page is filled it is ripped off and taped to the wall. Now, when the food is served (lunch-time) we can begin to go over the results of the brainstorming session. We eliminate some and leave for further discussion the others.

Now it's teatime, a snack and another cup of coffee (or tea). We begin to refine our list, and have further discussion on each.

Now it's cocktail time—bring on the cold beer, chips and salsa! Now some of the ones that were tossed out earlier, are brought back to life. As the effects of the beer free our minds, new ideas emerge. We return to a brainstorming session, and the process starts over as some of the original group had to leave, and others have joined. We have literally taken over the joint!

Over dinner we begin to realize the futility of this process. Now it’s on to dessert and Irish whiskey, Scotch and Drambuie are also served, along with more coffee.

Our server announces that they will be closing in 30 minutes and we need to settle our tab. The first person looks at it and a gaze comes over their face, and they pass it to their right. A frown appears on their face, and then they hand it to their right. This person exclaims “Ohhhhhhh sh%tTTT!!!!!” as they pass it to their right—it is now back to the first person, seems these three have forgotten to collect from those that have come and gone during the day, but they now have a name for their group. . . .“Ohhhhhh sh%TTT!!!!” which are the famous last words just as that big wave breaks on their kayak They whip out their credit cards, which are reserved for kayaking gear purchases and have the bill split into thirds. They collect the hanging pages of wisdom from the walls and neatly fold them for filing, just as a record of the process. As they walk back to their kayak laddened vehicles, they realize they have just spent 10 hours discussing a name for their group, while parked at 2-hour meters and each of them now have a stack of parking tickets. They shake their heads and say “Ohhhh sh%TTT!!!!” the name of their group.

Silbs said...

That could have been your blog

Alex said...

Great pictures Dick. Hmmm... a murder of crows, a gang of elks, a gaggle of geese, a cast of hawks, a troop of kangaroos, a pride of lions, a plague of locusts, a litter of pigs, a pod of seals, a nest of vipers, a pack of wolves...

Being the good G-style paddlers that we are, I think "pod" is probably the best word to describe a group of kayakers. Of course in Greenland that would mean that a pod of kayakers went out to hunt a pod of seals/whales. :)

Silbs said...

Alex, you are on to something here, but are right about the pod...almost sounds like canabils