A New Kind of Adventure

When I read Darwin’s description of his voyage on the Beagle, I couldn’t help but be preoccupied with the excitement of the life he led. It was invigorating to imagine that you were an explorer at the helm of a ship travelling to uncharted territory, anticipation of what lies ahead manifested as a pit in the back of your throat. Feeling the spray of the cold ocean against your cheek as your knees bend and sway to accommodate to the crest the ship just traversed. The cacophony of seamen yelling commands, masts being raised, ropes chaffing calloused hands.

The beauty of paving your own trail is the essence of the human experience. For Darwin, it involved excitement, ‘savages,’ (I’ll let this racist term slide because that’s a whole separate topic) new species, and discovery. Lucky for him, he existed in a time where there were still frontiers left untapped. Today you can type any permutation of letters into a machine and get information on literally whatever you please. The excitement of discovery is lost on our generation. Due to the rapid fire development of better and faster technology that lends most devices to have a life span of no more than a year my peers and myself lead a blasé existence where there is not much left to discover.

Children play with iPads and video games where you can see someone else wielding a sword and pretend it’s themselves. While this seems imaginative, when I was a child my favorite toy was a cardboard box whose manifestation changed by the day. One day it would be a car, the next my classroom, the next a ship where I was the captain of a band of Barbie pirates. Books were outlets to worlds other than my own and flooded my mind with insane, creative, brilliant imagery.

While today’s new frontiers are explored in laboratories, and the findings are astounding, I can’t help but think how different these kinds of discoveries are making our world, and the world in which our children will live in. It would sadden me deeply to see a decline in imagination and desire for wild escapades. Are we already well on our way to a world without creativity?

Siobhan C.

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~ by siobhangcoad on February 10, 2012.

3 Responses to “A New Kind of Adventure”

  1. I don’t think we’re headed to a world without creativity. There may not be new lands on earth to explore, but outerspace holds a universe of possiblity. Researchers of all disciplines still find the thrill of discovery when their research uncovers unexpected findings or sparks a new idea. The kinsd of discoveries may have changed form, but the world is still an exciting place with much to be discovered. As far as the increase in electronic devices, as long as we continue to read to our children or teach them how to play in cardboard boxes, their creativity and imagination will blossom just as yours did. Don’t give up hope!

  2. Siobhan—

    This post really resonated with me for several reasons. When I reflect back on my childhood, I remember a carefree, idyllic time characterized by grass, mud, and sunshine. Growing up, my mom’s general policy was that, unless it was pouring rain or frigid temperatures, I had to play outside after school. The backyard was my playground, my very own kingdom, a space where my imagination could grow and thrive. On warm summer days when the air quivered with the dreamy hum of cicadas, I would spend all afternoon running through a sprinkler; in winter, when the backyard was buried in a pristine layer of fresh snow, I would yank on my snowpants and construct a snowman, earnestly working on my project until the sun dipped beneath the trees and my mom called me in for dinner. Very rarely did I watch TV as a child, and we didn’t even own a computer until I was a preteen. And you know what? I’m so grateful for that, because my decidedly technology-less upbringing forced me to entertain myself. It forced me to develop an imagination. Children have done just fine without iPads and laptops and high-tech automated toys for centuries. You mention that you delighted in playing with cardboard boxes as a child, and it’s true! To entertain themselves, all children really need is a cardboard box, a backyard, a beautiful day….and their imaginations. By depriving children of the time and space to simply “be”—in the absence of organized sports or technology or structured intellectual activities—we are depriving them of the essential opportunity to cultivate an imagination.

    When I look at my younger cousins, both of whom are still children, I feel saddened for them. Their lives are so heavily scheduled with dance recitals and soccer games and foreign language lessons that they barely have any time to merely “play.” When they reflect on their childhoods, will they think nostalgically of lazy summer days jumping through a sprinkler? Or will their memories be of mindlessly punching at an iPad screen all day?

  3. Whoops, forget to sign. Anna D. :)

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