Books, Boats and Bonding
Some of you may remember a popular book from several years back entitled Bowling Alone. It described the negative impact on society created by suburbs, automobiles and shopping malls, to the detriment of happy, random encounters with neighbors, or relationships with shop owners. The book also cited fewer people joining service clubs, leading to less sense of community.
I’d suggest the heavy use of electronics exacerbated this problem, giving people online communities instead of real ones. The COVID pandemic has, of course, only intensified this issue. For one, people ignore the actual people next to them – not even a nod of acknowledgement – to stare at their phones. For another, while you can feel connected online, it’s often to people you don’t actually know well. You don’t deal with them in real life and they wouldn’t necessarily be there for you like a real friend would. Online communication can also lead to behaviors that nobody would allow in face to face interactions.
Many of us have countered this by creating more actual groups, whether in book clubs, at church, or through hobbies like boating and golfing. I belong to three book groups, which help me feel connected – even though, for now, it’s all through Zoom. I’ve also served on numerous nonprofit boards of directors, which often provide that sense of community. And we are sailors who have discovered that boats can be a strong link to others, whether past or present sailboat owners.
My interest in sailing has also driven my art, as sunsets over the water have become a favored theme. Like this painting, they often include sailboats. Rather than a realistic portrayal – I have a camera, after all – my paintings show how it felt to be there. The sense of serenity and awe, watching the changing colors of the sky reflected in the water and on the boats’ masts, is what I want to convey.