Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Nothing Beats an Actual Experience

In 2000 or 2001 (sorry, I can’t recall which), I remember watching a year-end prediction segment on CNN. One of the futurists involved in the segment prognosticated about virtual travel and tourism, and how in the near future it would replace actual, physical travel. She ended by saying something to the effect Before long, people will be saying Oh, you’ve actually been there?

I remember shaking my head in disbelief at that conceit.

You can read all the books and articles that you want. You can look at all of the photo essays that you want. You can do as many video and virtual tours as you want. But nothing compares to actually being there (wherever there is) or doing something (whatever that something is).

There is no comparison.

There is no approximation to actually feeling the wind on your body. To having your feet on the ground. To seeing and breathing. To feeling the sweat on your skin and the pounding of your heart. To tasting the local food and drink. To hearing the unfamiliar sounds of another place.

Let’s say you’re fascinated by martial arts. Until you get on the mats, you’ll never really know what the techniques feel like or what they take to perform, regardless of what you’ve seen or read.

Or consider the famous torii of Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima in Japan. You’ve probably seen photos of it. But until you’re there and see it with your own eyes, you can’t appreciate the its simple beauty and majesty.

And, yes, I’m speaking from the experience in both cases.

I admit that not everyone is able to travel to so-called exotic destinations. Not everyone can, say, take tango lessons in Buenos Aires or go rock climbing at Red Rock or even the local gym. But you can’t equate almost being there or almost doing something with actually being in that place or actually doing that something.

It’s not the same, no matter what some people tell you.

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