Beaton: Get a life!
The Aspen Beat
Antarctica is the latest adventure-travel hotspot, says a brochure in the mail.
You put on skis and walk 700 miles up, down and across the frozen wasteland, dragging a 200-pound sled. You’d better like frozen food.
You do this for 60 days. The price is $65,000, or about $1,100 a day.
Who would want to do that?
Here’s who: Some moneyed people have it all, except one thing. The one thing missing from their lives, they think, is authenticity. Stated another way, they think their lives are great, but not “real.”
Aspen, I’m talking to you.
These people were taught at prestigious colleges that the reason they lack realness is because they live little lives of privilege. They don’t suffer enough. The privilege of a real life is limited to the unprivileged, their privileged professors taught them.
So these people want to be unprivileged so that they too can have the biggest privilege of all: A real life.
It’s an old problem to which there is an old solution: You can trade your privileged little life for something bigger. He who gives up his life will find it.
Or as they say nowadays, “Go big or go home.” It takes guts. Because you have to give up the little life first. There’s not room for both a big one and a little one.
“Whoa,” Aspen says. “That’s radical. Can we instead have a secular solution to our spiritual dilemma?” A soul would be nice, they figure, but not nice enough to give up the BMW or the taxpayer-subsidized housing.
You see, they’d like to get a life the way they get everything else. They’d like to buy one — with the money they think precluded it in the first place.
That’s where adventure travel companies come in. They’ll sell you the suffering of a certified real life, or at least the certificate.
Then, the next time someone sniggers at your McMansion or your ridiculously big television, you show them that you’ve suffered. You whip out that certificate from your pocket showing that you once dragged a 200-pound sled across Antarctica.
“Yes, yes, that Antarctica,” you say, as if you’re a little bored. “The one at the bottom of the world.”
Like an African fertility symbol, the kind that people try to steer their kids away from at the museum, you’ll ooze copious, salubrious, odoriferous authenticity.
Then you remark, “I don’t always walk across Antarctica, but when I do …” Fill in the blank with something weird that will silence your listener as they try to figure it out.
Hipsters and trustafarians can’t get enough of this. No, it’s not actually real, but chicks in bars and Facebook “friends” will never know.
So why stop at Antarctica? I have more travel ideas for the adventure-minded with thick wallets and skinny souls who want to trade some of the former for the later. Here’s my brochure:
Galley Slave. See the Mediterranean the way Roman slaves did: Behind an oar! We’ll paddle to Carthage and we’ll paddle to Athens. We’ll paddle all around Venice. We’ll paddle right into the cathedrals and museums and avoid the lines!
Think about it. Just as you’re rehydrating from the last pirate attack with a refreshing, local Chablis, your guide/master whips your naked, bloody back, throws hot coals all over everyone, douses it with briny water, and shouts, “Ramming speed!”
Talk about authenticity!
Price: $1,099 per day, including skin ointment. Some swimming skills required.
Alfred G. Packer Trek. Hungering for something different? In this all-consuming wintertime trudge through the high mountains of Colorado, we’ll retrace the route of America’s most incompetent wanderer.
Imagine chewing the fat with your friends about this adventure when you have them for dinner!
(I have a soft spot for Packer. The Democrat judge sentencing him bellowed, “Damn you, Alfred Packer! There were seven Dimmycrats in Hinsdale County and you ate five of them!”)
Price: $900 per day. Food not included.
Cotton Plantation. You’ve sewn your own shirts, but have you made your own cotton? Do it the authentic way. Grow it and pick it!
This adventure is all day, every day, all summer, in the warm, moist Mississippi sun. In the evening, you’ll drink flat beer, tell colorful stories about the 14 hour day of picking and be “invited to dance” in private with the plantation owner.
Price: $1,039 per day, for a seven-month summer.
Super-Max Prison. There’s nothing more real than a musky ex-con. Serve a 12 to 20 year sentence meditating on a blank wall and listening to famed speaker Ted Kaczynski in the next cell.
Price: $1,549 per day. Sold in increments of one decade. Tattoos extra.
Nothing is provided or permitted. Don’t eat solid food for two days before arrival.
OK, readers, help me. I want a whole catalog so I can start the adventure travel company that the world is just dying for. Submit your adventure-travel suggestions on the comment page or by email.
The best will earn a place in my catalog, my column and my real life. Our motto: With all thy getting, don’t get left behind.
Correspond at theAspenbeat@gmail.com.
It’s almost time to ring in the new year and if your holiday schedule is shaping up to be as packed as mine, I wish you a well-deserved rest in 2024. In the meantime, it’s our chance to party, and party we shall.