Position: 37°35′49”N 0°58′48”W
Our neighbours’, Michael and Karen’s, dog Albert fell ill a few weeks ago. Albert is a King Charles spaniel. He was distressed and in pain. His back legs had failed him, and he couldn’t walk. Michael asked me if I’d be willing to drive Albert and him to the vet. Of course, I said.
Albert was kicking up such a ruckus that Michael had to hold him in his arms. Albert showed his appreciation by sinking his teeth into Michael’s earlobe, drawing blood. He’d never done anything like that before. As Michael and the vet consulted, I circled the neighbourhood. The initial diagnosis needed another opinion. An opinion in Murcia. Fifty kilometres away. No problem.
Not wanting to drug Albert before the other vet had seen him meant Michael had his hands full in the back seat. My job was to drive as fast as possible without getting arrested. It was the height of the pandemic and the roads were empty. Besides, we were dealing with an emergency.
The final diagnosis was something akin to doggy multiple sclerosis. Albert’s nerves lacked enough fat to keep them working properly. Being sensitive of stomach, Michael and Karen had kept him on a low-fat diet. But his diet lacked some essential oils and that led to raw nerves and spasticity.
The good news is that after three weeks of fish oil supplements, doggy Valium, and regular exercise Albert is returning to his old self.
Survivor & Collaboration
I’ve always had an issue with the American Western myth of the lone hero rescuing the town. It’s a myth that perpetuates. It permeates American culture. Take Survivor, the TV show. As a franchise it’s been incredibly successful, and its spawned dozens of imitations. As a model for survival, however, its winner takes all concept stinks. Which is why I’ve never sat through more than a couple of episodes.
The idea of landing on a remote island and living off the land using only your bare hands holds no interest for me. Some people aspire to such things. I don’t. Back in the 18th century, malcontent sailors (and mutinied captains) got marooned. Literally cast off the ship on a deserted island with nothing but sand flies and scrub to live on. Most didn’t survive long. For me, dropping an anchor with a freezer full of brews is far more attractive. Providing of course you have enough fuel, water and tequila to ride out Armageddon – or at least a pandemic spike or two.
You see, survival requires collaboration. And collaboration is more than cooperation. Collaboration, by definition, is the act of working with someone to create something. You can cooperate by doing nothing. Kind of like Mitch McConnell. But nothing of real value is created from passive cooperation. Creating real value begs for collaboration.
Collaboration is hard. It’s messy. It requires empathy and subordination of egos. That’s why collaboration is easier during a crisis. When your survival is at stake, you really need other people’s help. And you’ll set aside trivial things like who’s team you support. It’s just not that important.
Sailing communities, especially long-term and liveaboard sailors, understand this. Our lives aren’t all beer and beach umbrellas. Sometimes it really is about survival. Sharing tools, know-how, and supporting each other is part of what makes the community stronger.
Sometimes all that’s needed for successful collaboration is a car with a willing driver and a couple of band-aids.