This summer has been a hot one. Not normal hot, but hot like “I baked a pizza on the sidewalk” hot. As such, our outdoor adventures have been curtailed a bit. While it’s true we had a week long camping trip in June and another long weekend camping in July, the regularity of outdoor activities was out of whack this year. I blame the weeks of triple digit heat indexes rather than my laziness.
My girl is a reader too. A much less specific reader than I was. I can never peg a particular genre for her, she reads what entertains her and it could be sci-fi/fantasy or it could be the young adult fiction geared to girls her age that makes me uneasy and honestly a bit nauseated. I don’t know if the escapism she’s discovering is the same kind I had as a kid, but she has so many other avenues to escapism than I had. Until very recently we had hundreds of satellite TV channels to choose from. I cancelled the service hoping to keep the others in my house from sitting in front of the box. But I failed. We still have Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Redbox…and the list goes on but most importantly it still includes a library card.
So, does a virtual adventure count? Is reading Treasure Island anywhere near as exciting as a day spent geocaching? Would a day scuba diving be of any more significance than reading 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Does an afternoon parasailing, skydiving or taking a hot air balloon ride provide a bigger thrill than reading Around the World in 80 days?
Part of what made me ponder this question is our recent Family Movie Night choice: The documentary Long Way Round.
Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman ride motorcycles from London to NYC via Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia and document the entire trip with helmet cams and a film crew. While it took several evenings to make it through all the episodes, I believe the small one and I agree that by episode 2, we had a deeper appreciation for Ewan McGregor the friend, the man, the guy you’d most like to hang out with in a disco rather than Ewan McGregor, the actor. As we begin to watch the documentary of their second journey: The Long Way Down, riding from John O’Groats Scotland to Cape Town South Africa, I hope that she’s watching and wondering “what if?”. That she’s planning and plotting to secure a friendship like the one Misters McGregor and Boorman share. One that leads to adventure whether it’s in a downtown cafe or in the wild environs of Eastern Europe or Africa. One that takes her to places she’s only imagined from what she’s read or had a virtual connection to. Because I can’t help but answer the question “is a virtual experience a substitute for real adventure?” with a resounding NO!