This epiphany was actually brought on by an innocent observation from my seven year old son, who looked at the speedometer and informed me that the fastest my truck could go would be 120 miles per hour. My response was, "Well, that's how high it'll read, but my truck won't ever be GOING that fast."
And I started thinking about how fast drag racing vehicles go. Which led to how fast TRACK vehicles go. Which is when I realized that people watch Nascar to live secondhand through the drivers going in excess of 180 mph in circles. Yes, there's always the chance there's going to be a wreck. And yes, there's getting to see who actually WINS. But I'm thinking that's not why they watch the same cars going in the same circle over and over and over again.
It's the SPEED they're after. It's a chance to participate in what it might be like to be driving that car, because, lets face it, MOST of us are never going to drive over 120 mph, if we ever make it more than 20 mph past half that.
So I shared my revelation with the other occupants in the vehicle (my husband and both of my sons) to which my husband responds, "Well....isn't that the case with ANY sport?"
And I realized he's right. We watch the football/baseball/soccer/hockey/cheernastics/diving/swimming/gymnastics/synchronized swimming (Fill in your sport of choice) in part to celebrate the astonishing achievements of those few who can actually DO what they are doing, and maybe share in it just a little bit by that observation.
But it doesn't really stop there. It can be applied to a diverse variety of entertainments.
Television and Movies are very much all about indirect participation. We watch them to experience the joys, triumphs, exhilarations, defeats, fear, terror, romance, kinship, etc. Without actually have to endure the physical realness of it. I love a good horror movie--- but I sure don't ever want to find myself in a real one!
The same also applies to books. And that there is a great love of mine. I will joyfully claim my enjoyment of a great story, well written, with words that fly by so fast I don't even realize they're words-- instead, they're images in my mind-- my imagination fleshing out the print.
I find facebook creeps into the blogs more frequently than I would rather-- but I have the wealth of thoughts of over 300 people I consider my friends to pick pearls and rubies from. And my friend Jordan Paul had a status update that illustrates that even online social networks are a chance for us to share in the lives of our friends and family via surrogate:
"Everyone has an audience now. It may just be our "friends", but essentially we're all performing constantly for our "followers". Paradigm shift, ego trip, or just another of the masks we present to triangulate our position in the crowd? This message brought to you by People for Jordan Paul Awareness."
And even though the conversation that sparked these thoughts was over 2 weeks ago, I hadn't finished the thought until today.
I realized that, although I could see all the connections in entertainment that boil down to us indirectly experiencing a wealth of things we'll never actually do in person, the nagging question was moral in nature.
Is a life lived vicariously really a life at all?
If ALL you do is centered around any of these-- are you living?
Another friend of mine was discussing how tired she is of the rants people are doing in their status updates about the president/economy/health reform, etc. The point was, "Stop bitching and DO something about it!"
And I have to admit, I agree with her, though I prefer Mahatma Gandhi's less confrontational way of saying it, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Personally, I enjoy a good book, a good movie, a good baseball game--
But LIFE is about more than sitting there and observing. It's about getting up, getting out and finding what YOU are meant to do.
As my Education Psych Professor was fond of saying last semester, "You never know where you'll end up and what you'll end up doing."
But I can promise, you won't end up doing much of anything if you never get up in the first place.
So I'm off to continue my education, take care of my pets, and enjoy spending time with my children (: