I really should be down in the cave at Nicholson Ranch schmoozing with my 12 wine tour clients but I’d rather be reading. I really should be working on my platform for administrative interview questions but I’d rather be reading. I really should be sketching by the lake but I’d rather be reading.

 

And so here I am sitting on the bus deep diving into “Ready Player One” my newest addiction.

 

It’s nice here in my virtual world following the exploits of Parzival and Art3mis and Aech and Daito and Shoto as they fight and flirt and discover new worlds on their way to possessing the three keys and unlocking the three gates and obtaining the Easter Egg which will mean obtaining the fortune of James Halliday, creator of OASIS.

 

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with people there. I was afraid, for all my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s the only place where you can find true happiness. Don’t make the same mistake I did, don’t hide in here forever.”

 

And there it is, on page 364, the passage I was waiting for, the message I hoped my students would understand, the reason I’ve spent the past few nights in the VR of Ready Player One.

 

And I don’t want to leave. I check my watch and calculate the average time of a Nicholson Ranch tour and figure I have a few more minutes, Deepak will cover if necessary, no worries… I dive back in.

 

John from Utah knocks on the window of the bus. “Uh, Walt, we’re all waiting outside the tasting room.” I’m still in the virtual world, almost offended that he thinks his reality is more important than mine.

 

And there it really is. My actual fear about living in the virtual world of OASIS or Facebook or Sports or American Idol or Snapchat or any screen really. It’s easy, it’s free, it’s available and it’s usually not terrifying or painful.

 

Life is hard, this we have determined, but the hard part is also often the most satisfying because it leads to growth. Terror, pain, failure, loss, they will not kill you (hopefully) but they will make you stronger. Living in a screen, now that will kill you.

 

A little escape is good because you deserve it but how many people do you know who go too far? Ignoring your job because you want a few more minutes in a virtual world is neither healthy nor a great way to increase your tips at the end of a day of wine touring.

 

Wednesday night I attended a meeting at Westerbeck Ranch with the SVHS students and their parents who went to Washington for the gun control rally. Many inspirational stories and appreciations for the kids and the adults who support them but what stuck in my head was how do we make this group of 13 the norm rather than the exception? The power in this movement is that it is a student-led response, not just to gun control, but also to the adult apathy around gun control.

 

We are going in a direction that is killing us, cowering to political and financial bullies who benefit from keeping things as they are. My hope is that gun reform is only the beginning and once students have an impact on problem #1, they move on to problem #2. Eventually, the paradigm shifts and you know the rest of the story.

 

I make sure to be extra attentive to John and the other clients at the next three wineries and I put the book away until later when I’m done with the day’s responsibilities.