Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why We Travel

With all of the advances in modern technology, it's much easier to "experience" the many wonders of the world without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.  High definition screens and cameras capture the beautiful, vibrant colors of coral reefs and tropical fishes, the deep greens of rain forests and the bright blues of the crystal clear ocean.  Tiny action cameras give you the feeling of soaring over deep waterfall-filled canyons, zip-lining over rushing streams or careening down a steep hill on a bike.  Surround sound systems make it feel like you are right in the middle of garden full of singing birds or the wind is whipping past you atop a hill overlooking a beautiful city.  Digital photo editing allow for the perfect shot in the perfect light taken at the perfect time almost every time.

But when was the last time you had a dream about watching something beautiful on TV?  Or the last time you found your mind wandering to an occasion when it "felt like" your body was in motion--when you were actually sitting in a chair?  Or you ever felt anticipation for opening up a picture book or clicking on photos saved on a hard drive?

For all of the 3-D, fully-immersive, sensory-overload electronic system we develop, they will never, never replace the human experience.  Our bodies are full of receptors that no electronic device can ever trigger with video motion, digital sound or ultra-high resolution.  It's the subtle difference between "watching" and "seeing".  Watching means it comes to your eyes after being filtered through a secondary source.  Seeing means everything that is happening is directly processed by your brain--producing much more vibrant memories.  What's more, all five of your senses are stimulated at the same time.  In addition to seeing the tropical fish, you feel the warm water against your skin, you smell and taste the saltiness of the ocean and you hear the rustle of the wind or that "clicking" noise that is apparently made by shrimp marking their territory.  It's a real experience that technology still can't come close to replicating.

And it is why we as humans still travel.  It's why we leave the comforts of our own homes and venture out to places that we have never been--or have been to already but want to experience again.  I could look at 10,000 pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from Battery Spencer Park on the internet.  But which of them is going to be the equal of standing on that same hill and "seeing" that same view?  There are dozens of hi-def videos of the doors-off helicopter tour that we are taking on Kauai next week on Youtube--each with scenes that make you think some sort of editing was done to put that many waterfalls in one place--but am I going to recall in exact detail what is in those as opposed to being in that chopper myself?  And every January I watch the Hyundai Tournament of Champions from Kapalua Plantation Course and watch the pros bomb it over 400-yards from the 18th tee.  But it will never compare to when I did the same thing myself ten years ago--and hope to do again this year (c'mon 25 mile an hour trade winds!!).

So the time has finally come--after two years of careful planning--for my wife and I to go and have those experiences that no video, picture or audio track can ever replicate.  It's time to not just watch the world--but to live it.

Mahalo and Aloha!

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