Does Virtual Adventure Count?

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I had to go out of town for a couple of days so Lisa stepped up again with another great blog post. I think the heat has been getting to her but you be the judge.

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.

Pillars of the Earth - A great read.
Pillars of the Earth - A great read.
As a younger kid, I played outside all summer long with the boys next door. We built forts, rode our bikes in the undeveloped area around our houses, hunted slithery slimy crawly things and I learned that girls don’t get to take their shirts off in the summer but boys can. Thanks Dad.
As we grew up and our relationships were pointed out as “unusual”, I spent less and less time with the boys and more time in my room reading. This was in the pre-cable, pre-video game, even pre-video cassette days. My parents were very much home bodies, adventures meant traveling any more than 40 minutes from home. My adventures came from books. I loved Madeline L’Engle. She brought me Meg Murry and Charles Wallace and their adventures bending time and space. I loved the Wizard of Oz, and Alice. Obviously I had a penchant for fantasy but I settled for a good Nancy Drew mystery here and there too. Don’t give me something realistic like Huck Finn or Call of the Wild. Not interested. As my tastes matured, I began a lifelong fascination with historical fiction. It started with books that have anything at all to do with Tudors or with British history in general. The first gift my husband gave me when we were just dating was a copy of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. It was perfect.

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.

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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?

Ewan's Adventure
Ewan's Adventure

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!

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