"From the Desert to the Sea, to All of Southern California." - Jerry Dunphy

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shaking Hands with the World

Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" is a seminal book for many baby boomer's. I confess I never read the book, but I am familiar with its premise. One day when I am less anxious or able to explore, I will sit and read the story of a man's journey across this country as youthful optimism turns to a weathered realization that things are not always as they seem. The disappointment is inevitable in any story, but what matters for my purpose here is the journey, the physical act of exploring. I am thinking back to my previous post, "The Wireless Home", in which I wondered if our kids even see their country as they travel through it. The enemy is not technology but the sense of adventure which its omnipresence diminishes. There is no discovery in a video game or a movie. The only way to really discover something is live and in person, exposing all your senses to the mundane and magnificent.

At the age of 15 I stood in front of the Grand Canyon looking out at the vast expanse. I never understood what my eyes saw until I leaned over the rail and threw a rock down into the canyon. I was a kid doing a kid thing to test the reality before me. I required all my senses to discover how deep and real it was. I did not comprehend the size until my rock landed many seconds later far below me. I'll never forget how long that rock took to land. I then shouted out into the canyon to get a sense of its width as my voice echoed off the canyon walls and back to me. No photo, no IMAX movie or video game can replicate that moment. It is the same impulse that makes us skip a rock across a pond. Or walk the rails of a neglected train track in Gallup New Mexico. Exploration is how we shake hands with the world and life.

Kerouac's book takes you many places to meet a variety of characters. When you are finished reading it I imagine wanting to rush out the door and discover world, for yourself. Video games are fine, but they can never do that for you. Lets not park our sense of adventure and the discovery it brings. If you're "On the Net", get off and get"On the Road" and shout at the world, throw your own rock of curiosity and shake hands with the world.

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