I thoroughly enjoy watching the Planet Earth documentaries. They capture some of the most beautiful wildlife in high definition clarity. From Birmingham, AL I can be transported to the opposite side of the world with a remote. As entertaining and inspiring as it can be, though, there is something to be said about the real thing.
Hanging out with a grizzly bear on your tv in your living room versus miles and miles into the backwoods of Montana is a different experience. Going to sleep in your bed after turning the tv off versus in your tent after a near-death experience is a different experience.
An Instagram post of the beach is different than the feel of sand between your toes, the smell of saltwater, the rush of crashing waves around your knees, the heat of the Sun, the colorful hues of the sky on the horizon at sunset.
Watching P.S. I Love You might give you a snapshot of Ireland, but it doesn’t compare to the nervous excitement of navigating windy, country roads on the left side of the road, or the feeling of your stomach in your throat as you crawl to the edge of the Cliffs of Moher where there is no guardrail and gaze off the 320 million year-old work of art that it is.
Life and experiences and opinions are much the same. This famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt comes to mind:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Watching the recorded version of a real thing has its place. Being informed and knowing where you stand is great. But what are you doing?
What are you missing out on because you’re settling for the artificial, comfortable, easy? What arena are you critiquing from the side lines without participating?
We each have an adventure, a calling, a context to live our lives boldly within. It requires risk, participation, and pain. It will involve error, failure, and defeat. But it will be real, and it will be your own.