Monday, December 13, 2010

Best of Both Real Worlds

I significantly dislike reality tv. There really isn't much "real" in reality as there are multiple writers, numerous editors cutting the action to increase the drama and then there are the participants that are looking for fame rather than participating in whatever show they are involved in.

One show I always liked was "The Alaska Experiment". There, the contestants were not participating for money and very few outwardly expressed a desire for fame. They were they to see if they could survive in the wilderness with minimal provisions. Just because they can.

There is another wilderness show currently "taking over" the airwaves recently and that is the Sarah Palin Alaska show. This blog is not here to discuss the politics of Palin or even her personality. However, there is an undercurrent in the last episode that struck a chord with me. Palin and her online supporters derided Kate Gosselin for not being tough enough to survive in nature. Slate has a very good take here. The basic take was that Palin enjoyed being outdoors regardless of the weather and Gosselin proceeded to lose her mind when the comforts of home were not present. Associated Content has a good wrap up.

All of this got me thinking. Despite the suspicious editing and the motivations of the "reality" participants, how valid is the critique that it is more worthwhile to try and build up yourself in the woods versus the city? Certainly, many authors from Thoreau to Muir to modern writers have felt one's sense of worth is tested by being in the woods without the comforts of civilization. The woods revitalizes you and is better than city living.

So who is right and why? I think you need both and need to experience both to truly appreciate the other. I am a City guy. I like the arts and the energy and the opportunities a City can afford you. I am a big movie fan and cities are great vehicles to be inspired by movies and the arts. At the same time, cities tend to suck all your energy from you. The air is absolutely terrible and there are many, many people in cities.

The woods give you an escape from all of that. The air is great and you don't see a lot of people on most trails. The woods also offer you a chance to physically challenge yourself which is sorely lacking on a 9 to 7 desk job that many of us participate in. There are also downsides as well. How many people start tent camping and then start to see the benefit of blow up mattresses and RV's. And I have to side with Gosselin on only one thing, camping in the rain SUCKS. Setting up a tent, trying to do any fun outdoor activities, if it is raining, it is not a lot of fun.

Still, I don't think any one way is the best and you are "hard" or "sharp" just because you live in one place or enjoy another. If I had my druthers, I would work in my City job from a log cabin but until that happens, I am working in the City and hiking on the weekends.


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