Experience

When I was in high school I had an English teacher that was a little bit off.  We all joked that he was crazy, but really he had just done a lot of drugs and had some weird experiences when he was younger.  The majority of his classes would end with him rambling on about how he almost killed a guy while on acid.

One of the lectures that has stuck with me since then was about how we experience things.  He tried to start a controversial debate by saying that he had no idea that the Earth was round because he had never seen it from far enough away to know.  He said that just because someone else took a picture and made the measurements to see that the Earth was round, he didn’t fully believe it because he would have to take someone else’s word for it.

He went into a few other examples like how he didn’t even know if the sky was blue because he couldn’t see it right then.

This of course started a bit of argument with the students because we all knew that of course the Earth was round and the sky was blue.  As high school students, most of us didn’t get the point that we shouldn’t base everything we know about something someone else tells.  He really just wanted to get it through our heads that if we really wanted to understand something, we needed to experience it for ourselves.

Now almost ten years later I think I’m really starting to understand what he was talking about.  I’ve realized that I spend a pretty big chunk of my life on reddit and reading blogs and other things on the internet.  I’ve learned so much from doing that.  There are so many things that I feel like I have a complete understanding on, but really I’ve just read about someone else who has done them.

I’m starting to think this is a bad thing.  I’m realizing that I’m not experiencing much any more.  Most of the time I’m just experiencing text on a page telling me about something.  I’m not going to say it’s not interesting though.  I’ve learned a ton from everything I’ve read, but I’m definitely not an expert on anything.

For example, I read an AMA about a guy who hiked the Appalachian Trail a while back.  From that, I feel like I have a pretty good idea what it would be like to hike the Appalachian trail.  I know what gear to get, what kind of food to eat, even how it feels to sit alone in the dark and hear animals outside of your tent.  But I haven’t experienced it.  I’ve realized that I really have no idea what it would be like.

I’m starting to think that this is a big problem in my life and probably in a lot of other people’s lives.  What will happen to us when we’ve learned everything there is to know, but haven’t experienced anything because it’s all been on a computer, the television, or a book?  Does knowledge make up for lack of experience?

Is it even healthy to do this?

Imagine what it would be like to have to learn everything in life on your own without a users manual or an AMA or a blog about it.  Imagine what it would be like to only live in the moment and not be thinking about anything else.

I know this isn’t possible and I know that there are tons of things to be learned from others.  Hey, look at me, I lost a bunch of weight because I went online and read about the paleo diet.

It’s definitely something weird to think about though.  Tonight, when you are doing whatever it is you’re doing, realize that this is the first and last time that you will be experiencing that specific situation and you are the only person doing it right there and right then.

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Go Camping

I went camping last weekend.  I like going on a fall camping trip or two because the weather is usually perfect at that time of year in Minnesota.  The leaves have changed too, so everything is very pretty.  The temperature was actually very warm for this time of year.

We went up to a spot along the St. Croix River.  We got there some time around one in the afternoon.  Luckily our camp site was unoccupied already, so we set up the tent.  Then we went for a hike on one of the “more advanced” trails.  It was pretty easy though.

The only weird thing was that it was also a horse trail, so the ground was very sandy and loose.  The horses must tear it up with their hooves.  There were leaves all over.  This made our walk pretty noisy as we had to trample through them the whole way.  There was no way we were seeing any wild life on that walk.

When we got back we hung out for awhile.  It was the perfect afternoon.  I didn’t even have to wear long sleeves.

While we were sitting there, two deer came walking by our camp site.  Luckily we were on the very end of the camping area.  There was no one else around to scare them away.  They just slowly wandered through the trees, probably looking for something to eat.

It was amazing to see how well camouflaged they were.  As soon as they stopped moving, I lost track of them.  At one point, I made a noise and the deer stared me down for a good five minutes before it started to move again.  It was tense, but I stayed still, so it kept on moving without getting scared.

We had brats and potato salad for dinner.  The food was good, but the brats got a bit burned because they were still frozen in the center.

We played a quick game of Scrabble after dinner, but that got interrupted by a short rainstorm.  Of course the rain stopped as soon as we put the game away.  We were tied at the time so we called it a draw.

The rest of the night was spent watching the campfire and finishing off some wine.  It was very relaxing.  The next morning, we had some greasy eggs and bacon and hot coffee before a short walk down by the river.  The whole trip was short, but extremely relaxing.

You might be wondering what this has to do with working in an office.  It doesn’t really, but I think we all need to get out and enjoy a bit of nature to feel better about the constant life of computers and cubicles.  This weekend was really easy.  All we needed was a tent, sleeping bags, some food and wine.

We’re not into anything too intense; we just were at a drive in camp site in one of the state parks.  These weekends are nice too because they’re pretty cheap.  The site costs maybe twenty dollars.  After food and firewood, we probably spent fifty.

Sometimes we all need to slow down a bit and enjoy some nature.  The best thing about this trip was the fact that we didn’t have a television or computer hogging our attention the whole time.

Oh and I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  Work has been busy and I’ve been suffering from a bit of writers block.