“You Need to Get Out More”

“You know son, you guys have such a nice place up there.”

“Yeah, I know Dad.” I replied.

“Me and Rita had such a good time. The roads were just gorgeous. You really ought to get some bikes.”

“I’m glad you had a good time.” I said earnestly.

“You really ought to get out more though,” He said, taking on his tone of fatherly lecturing. “Seems like you two spend all your time in the house. It’s a shame with all that stuff to explore.”

I sighed, his visit the weekend before had been fraught with similar criticisms. “Well, I know you feel that way, and we do go out and do things with our friends sometimes. But often, at the end of a long week we just want to relax.”

He paused; I could almost picture him nodding thoughtfully on the other end of the phone.

“Well, I’ve had my say and you’ve got to do what makes you happy.”

We wrapped up our weekly phone call talking about other things; my grandmother’s health, the snow tires he agreed to get us for Christmas and the potential of his visiting again in the near future. When I hung up, I exhaled a sigh. A part of me knew that to an extent he was right. My wife and I live in a gorgeous rural area. As we speak the leaves are alive (metaphorically speaking, they’re actually all dying) with color even as the autumn winds scatter them across our rain soaked lawn. In the distance the mountains are visible and beyond them, just out of sight, is Lake Champlain. There is a lot of stuff to do just outside my door.

And yet I often have no inclination to partake in them. I say often because I’m not entirely a shut in. This last summer I did partake in several fairly beefy outdoor activities. My wife and I went hiking and kayaking. We also went camping and my wife finally got me on one of those damned rides that shoot you two hundred feet into the air and drop you back down to the ground at God-only-knows how fast.

Do we spend more sunny days inside killing aliens, slaying darkspawn and otherwise running amuck of the various virtual worlds crafted by the game industry? Most certainly. But we also have friends over, and go out to dinner and to the movies. We read books and on occasion exert ourselves in other ways that I will leave to your perverted imaginations.

Now, I understand my Dad. He grew up on a farm and when he had a hankering for some fun he went out and found it. Tales of his hijinks are still recounted within my family; the time he nearly cut off his toe on some glass, stepped on a nail, or the scar he still carries from trying to pull a muskrat out of its burrow by its tail. He was, and is an adventurous guy. I, share many of his personality traits, but am fairly mellow. I can admire the beauty of nature, but my desire to partake in its various splendors tends to be more limited. Small doses are more than enough to satisfy me.

I know that a part of this comes from a long standing aversion of mine to many physical activities. I am the product of two monumentally klutzy people and am by extension woefully clumsy. I am the kid who could never catch the ball in gym. I would get pick last and feel bad for the time I’d wound up for having me. The only sport I ever dared to try, cross country, was one I picked entirely because it had less to do with grace and skill and more to do with stamina and personal resolve.

Beyond this however is the very basic fact that I just generally find video games to be a more fun, more relaxing activity than much of what my Dad might prefer to do. Every now and then it’s fun to go out and do something different, but as I told my father at the end of a long week very often the basic instinct of both my wife and me is to curl up together in the living room and binge on video games. It’s comfortable, it’s relaxing and it’s pure escapism.

For the most part I think we do well at maintaining a fair balance in our activities. Yes, video games may weigh more heavily on our agenda than many other activities but you could say something similar about anyone. I sometimes chuckle, thinking that the next time my Dad criticizes me for staying in too much I’ll turn the tables and tell him he goes out to much.

“Think of all the brilliant books you could read, films you could watch, games you could play. There is this whole other side to life that you’re missing out on!”

I don’t think he’d agree. But that’s okay, at the end of day it’s to each his own. People should do things in moderation but still do what they love. It can’t get much simpler then that.

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