I want to go to Torres del Paine national park in Chile. The park is within Patagonia and was unmapped until the 1930’s. The landscape is untamed and beautiful; filled with teal-colored lakes, rushing rivers, glaciers, tower-shaped mountains, and fjords. A trip there would be amazing but not likely to happen any time soon. So, I sit down in front of my computer in my sweats with a cup of coffee, turn on Pandora, and do a quick search on Bing. I type in “torres del paine national park” and up pops everything I could possibly want to know about the park. Pictures-so many gorgeous photographs, maps, the current weather, travel advice, hiking trails, hotels, information on the locals, what animals inhabit the park, blogs from people who have been there, the best local food, etc., etc. By the time I am finished I know everything about Torres del Paine national park. I am an expert who has seen all of the best sites and listened to all the local sounds. I have an understanding of the culture and people and have even purchased some souvenirs. Then I turn off the computer and go make dinner.
What an amazing time to live! We have access to the world from our own living room. But it is also causing us to lose out on so much. I feel that our involvement in the “real world” is getting smaller even as our access to it increases! So much can be done online that we really do have little reason to leave the house. We have the head knowledge but, often, not the personal experience. To get out into the world and participate in it for yourself is such a different experience than to just learn about it. Of course it is more difficult and costs more (and not just monetarily), but that’s kind of the point. To experience something for yourself changes you. It creates new sensations, feelings, and memories which, even if negative, at least they are yours! Near or far, I want to be involved in the world. I want to wrap myself in the experience to feel the heat, taste the air, struggle up the difficult hills with my own two feet. I want to overcome the obstacles, wipe the sweat from my eyes, allow the cool fresh air hit my cheeks, and struggle to communicate with the “locals.” I want to abandon myself to the experience! My own camera records those sites that are already permanently burned into my memory.
Then I can go home to upload the pictures and blog about my experience so other people sitting in front of their computers in sweats with a cup of coffee can read about it and pretend that they have been there!
Question for you: What is that one place that you long to see in person?