Now I should be embarrassed Very embarrassed. I teach World Geography but yesterday was the first time I've ever really used Google Earth in my class. I have had a difficult time showing my students the difference between the beach resorts towns and the rest of Mexico. So I'm having them use Google Earth to discover the stark contrast on their own.
I mean I've looked at my house before.... but beyond that I haven't used Good Earth too much. So just barely I was looking at Google Earth at all sorts of places across the world. It was spectacular! Amazing how advanced technology has become! I can know exactly what places look like without ever leaving the comforts of my own comfy desk chair. Then I started to look at all the locations I visited this summer through Europe. Not only did it look exactly like I remembered, because of the time of year or the placement of the sun, often times the places looked even more beautiful. For a second there I was bummed. Super bummed. Why in the world did I spend thousands of dollars to travel when I could have just looked at Google Earth?
But then I thought of my favorite movies, and one of my all time favorite scenes, a monologue by Robin Williams. Spectacular. (Yes, I did some editing.)
So, if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo. You know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that....You're a tough kid. I ask you about war, you'd probably uh...throw Shakespeare at me, right? "Once more into the breach, dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, and watched him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I ask you about love, y'probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable...known someone that could level you with her eyes. Feeling like God put an angel on Earth just for you..who could rescue you from the depths of Hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, n to have that love for her be there forever. Through anything. Through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleepin' sittin' up in a hospital room for two months, holding her hand because the doctors could see in your eyes that the term "visiting hours" doesn't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. I look at you: I don't see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared crapless kid. But you're a genius, Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. You're an orphan, right? Do you think I'd know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally, I don't give a crap about that, because you know what? I can't learn anything from you I can't read in some book. Unless you wanna talk about you, who you are. And I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't wanna do that, do you, sport? You're terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.
All the images and videos that Google Earth can throw at someone cannot create memories and images that traveling and experiencing a place makes. Traveling changes people in ways that I don't think anything else can.
Or at least that is what I am going to tell myself so I can sleep at night.