Recreational activities abound today

From playing with high-tech gadgets to engaging in low-tech outdoorsy fun, there's no shortage of stimulation
2012-08-30T00:00:00Z Recreational activities abound todayOpinion by Alexis Powers Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Do you think cavemen participated in recreational activities? After a hard day of spearing and skinning, is it possible they took their children out to play "toss the rocks"? Maybe one of their forms of entertainment was to use clubs to maneuver small stones into holes they dug outside the cave.

The cornucopia of games, sports, crafts and hobbies available these days is staggering. In the old days reading a book or listening to the radio was all one desired for relaxation. If you craved exercise you got out the bike or the roller skates. For the youths of New York City, the sidewalks were fields for stickball or handball for the boys. Girls amused themselves by playing hopscotch or jump rope. Crayons and coloring books were popular. We loved our 10-cent comic books.

For the couch potato crew, in today's world the choices are endless. Many people pass the time watching television. Computers mesmerize us for hours with game playing and shopping online.

To the other extreme there are the Lewis and Clark reincarnates eager to blaze trails through all kinds of hardships, inclement weather and adverse conditions. They call this "hiking." This type of activity holds no interest for me. At the first bug bite or thorn prick I'd be calling it a day.

Ascending the ladder of excitement, there are those who love rock climbing. Recently at lunch a waiter told me he loved to climb rocks and that he'd scaled 900 feet. Just the thought of looking down from five feet up makes me queasy.

Mountain climbing is another popular international sport. Multitudes of folks feel compelled to climb Mount Everest. Not only do you need to be in good physical condition but you must spend a couple of days at base camp to get used to the 10,000-foot altitude before continuing. There is great danger of frostbite and altitude sickness. Even with all this adversity, the slopes are crowded with people who have flown to Nepal to endure this hardship.

Just the other day a friend told me she jumped off the Navajo Bridge at the Grand Canyon on a bungee cord. I wouldn't even want to walk out and look over the Navajo Bridge! Other sports are equally dangerous. Sky diving and hang gliding have great appeal to people who believe they have nine lives. Unbelievable!

One of the pitfalls of turning to a recreational activity to stave off boredom is that the hobby of choice can become an addiction. When I learned to play golf, I wasn't aware it was an addictive sport. Slowly, my life got out of control. If I were watching a golf tournament, I would turn off the television, jump into my car and race out to a golf course. My golf clubs were always in the trunk.

Sometimes when there wasn't a lot going on at my job at the law firm, I would get that funny urge. Unable to fight it off, I'd walk into my boss's office.

"I have to leave."

"Why? It's 2 in the afternoon. Are you sick?"

"No, I just have to go," I would tell him.

Smiling because he knew me all too well, he continued his interrogation, "Do you have a dentist or doctor's appointment?" he asked, giving me an out.

"No, I don't," I replied, not wanting to lie but getting more antsy to leave.

"Well, why are you taking off?"

"I'm going to play golf. I'll come in early to make up the time." Nodding his head he'd say, "Make a hole-in-one."

Another addictive pastime is playing bridge. This one is very sneaky. When I first started playing I was married to Jack and our daughters were young. Things got to the point where I wouldn't be friends with any couples who didn't play bridge.

Jack wasn't keen to play but went along with my passion, at least for a while. When I began to criticize his playing, and only wanted to talk about bridge, he put his foot down.

"It's me or bridge," he flatly stated. I didn't play bridge for about 20 years.

In today's world, parents want to be sure their children are never without entertainment. Recently my friend was traveling from California to Albuquerque with five children ranging in age from 10 years old to 20, with a stop in Tucson. After depositing the children at a motel, she spent time with me.

"How can you drive with all that noise?" I asked.

"They watched movies," she replied.

The revelation that folks have DVD players and TV monitors in their cars stunned me. I felt obsolete not being aware of all the high-tech changes that have occurred. When we were kids and went on a long trip, we occupied ourselves by counting red cars, or shouting out if we saw cows or horses in a pasture. Sometimes the entire family sang songs to pass the time. Now children have expensive video games, iPads and other stuff I know nothing about.

I guess I'm an old-fashioned girl. With all that is available, my favorite way to relax is to curl up on the couch with a book I can't put down, with a lovely cup of tea at my side.

On StarNet: Read recent columns by Alexis Powers at azstarnet.com/alexispowers

Email Alexis Powers at northwest@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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