“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
On a visit to London several years ago we rented a flat with a lovely view of the Thames. Each morning, as the sun rose, low slung skiffs would silently glide up the placid brown river, the oarsmen keeping time with one another in a delicate dance as their boat bellies skimmed the water.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that modern rowing competitions originated in London, among the city’s watermen. These men ran what we would call water taxis, ferrying passengers and goods from one shore to the next in an era when there were fewer bridges. The first race was sponsored in 1715 and over time the prize purses grew quite large, sometimes subsidized by owners of the grand houses which lined the river’s shores; they often held viewing parties.
In 1829 the first Boat Race between Cambridge University and Oxford University took place and it has been held annually ever since. Great Britain took the lion’s share of the rowing medals in the 2012 Olympics. Its long oaring tradition certainly helped. Even the Duchess of Cambridge rows; she practiced as coxswain for a charity sponsored event. Something tells me she already knows quite a bit about teamwork.
In team competition it’s often the crew that has learned to best work together which brings home the cup. Each individual member has to bring his or her A game, to be sure, but then once in the boat, set aside individualism to be in sync with, no better nor less than, the others, all under the direction of the coxswain, who directs the crew.
I asked myself: To which team would you like to bring your A game this year? What cause would you like to put your muscle toward? Whom can you join, and help? “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
How about you?
Main photo credit: Photograph taken by Michael Reeve on the English Wikipedia project (en:User:MykReeve), 30 March 2002. CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=610502}