When I was a kid we had D&D, also known as Dungeons & Dragons, a role playing game where fantasy reigns and you build your character by killing things, finding gold pieces, and using magic.
I eventually figured out that I was spending all of my time thinking about a world that didn’t exist, and that it was hurting my ability to live in the real world. I figured that I had to face up to the struggles and trials of life to grow as a person. I was 15 years old when I quit playing the game and joined reality.
It seems that fantasy is becoming reality for our culture. We can make “friends” by simply clicking a button, be a Navy SEAL via joystick, and avoid awkward conversations by texting. In a fantasy game, ethics are a relative concept as you choose to be good one day, and evil the next. You can do anything you want with no fear of the consequences.
But in the real world, consequences are happening. We are losing touch as a species. We are inventing ourselves into a creature that no longer belongs in the world.
I listen to students on my wilderness trips talking to each other; “what are you going to do when you get back to the real world?” and I have to snicker. Real to them means what they’re used to, the easy life for many of them, rooted in whatever the media is selling and technology allows to increase comfort and decrease connection. With a decrease in connection with one another and the planet, we have increased human inequality and abuse, and environmental degradation.
Wilderness is not easy. You’ve got bugs. You have to be patient and deal sometimes. And when you’re ready (yes when YOU are ready) nature shows you more beauty in one fallen leaf than can be found in all the paintings in any art museum in any city. Once a person is witness to this, they won’t be able to go back to callously treating one another and the earth as a “resource” and will instead see it as home, perhaps for the first time.
Today begins our official “Get Real, Get Outside” campaign. We can each do our part in little ways. Leave the artificial world behind every day, even if just for a few minutes. Put the cell phone down for 15 minutes and go outside in bare feet, any time of the year. Smell things like dirt. Look at beach sand close up. Make a real friend by doing something for someone.
We welcome your thoughts. Please join us. And for a great article on how our ancestors avoided money check out http://libcom.org/history/hunter-gatherers-mythology-market-john-gowdy