V ~ is for Vicarious

Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion, t...

Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion, the first Trixie Belden mystery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security number and where your car is parked. You are having a vicarious experience. You are identifying, in one way or another, with the people on the screen.” ~ Roger Ebert

I have a rather positive outlook on vicarious experiences. Though I may not have experienced something firsthand, that does not mean the experience is not worthy.  In fact vicarious experiences can be just as satisfying. Is that not what we do when we get lost in a good movie as Ebert so ably puts it, or better yet, when we read a book?

I remember as a young girl reading the adventures of Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, and living them in my imagination. The things that they dealt with did not happen in my “real” life, but I was richer, as was my imagination, for having experienced them vicariously.

I sometimes live through the tales my friends tell of their adventures, their travels, and their creative acts. And by listening to them, my attention is rapt, and their memories become not my memories, but an open door to things I have not had the chance to do or create.

Some of the synonyms I found for vicarious are not at all how I define it.  The words second-hand, displaced, remote, indirect, removed or distanced do not play a part in my vicariousness.

To me, living vicariously opens up worlds that may not be available to me otherwise. It also provides an impetus to do the things that I find appealing. Sometimes living out something in your imagination translates itself into action.

I have lots of things on my life list (as opposed to my bucket list which sounds a little too final to me) that I want to do: travel, publish a book, learn to golf and play tennis, get involved in more community activities—and as I work on this list, I derive pleasure from those who do travel extensively, write books, play the games I want to play, and join the activities I want to take part in. It is part of the learning process—it is all part of my life research.

I think of  “living vicariously” as a practice run wherein I am identifying what it is I want to accomplish.

1966 cover of the revised version of The Secre...

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63 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Love this post! Some of your best writing in my opinion. Love your definition of vicarious, too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. OMG, I loved Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books when I was a kid!! I soooo wanted to have adventures like they did :). I still love to lose myself in the world of a great book!

    • Trixie Belden books were hands down my favourite books when I was a kid — I just loved them

  3. I agree! And I read the whole Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew series.. I still live vicariously through books and movies, with a little sprinkling of real life thrown in.

  4. Great post! I used to read a lot of Nancy Drew…I collect them for my kids…ok, and myself now :).

  5. You have described vicarious living to a T. You’ll make all of us want to live with rapt attention to the sharing of all our friends, if we don’t already. I loved Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. What fun to see the old book covers! I do not like it when people accidentally call me Nancy. (My last name is Drue. No relation to Nancy.)

    • ha ha – I have a friend who does know someone named Nancy Drew–she is a teacher
      I loved Trixie Belden books the best, then Nancy Drew

  6. Do children nowadays even read Nancy Drew stories? I loved them when I was younger.

  7. I remember Trixie Belden, had all her books as a kid. Great article, thanks for the memories.

  8. I was a huge Trixie Belden fan! I love how define living vicariously as a practice run. That’s a great way to think about it.

  9. Ahhhhh!!!! I have the book shown in that last image! Oh, Nancy Drew, you fabulous, fabulous crime fighter. How often I lived vicariously through you from the cushy window seat in one of our old rentals!

  10. Great Books…. How about Cherry Ames and of course, The Bobbsey Twins? and then there was The Boxcar Children!

    • I cut my teeth on the Bobbsey Twins–the other two I do not remember though they ring a bell in my memory

  11. To lose yourself in another world is definitely the best :D
    What better way than by books!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • and cooking and baking! and taking pics of the cooking and baking–and eating!

  12. I remember you getting lost in Trixie Belden….didn’t you secretly want to be Honey?

  13. I have never really understood that bucket list idea.. c

  14. Those girls were my role models. I still have several of the books from my childhood. Just can’t give them up! :)

  15. When I was a kid I would read a whole Nancy Drew book in one day. i tried to get my girls into the series but they were ho-hum about ol’ Nancy. Sad.

    • too bad you could not share your passion – I had boys so did not even try

      • They didn’t even like the “Little House” books! Sigh.

      • awww

  16. I love your definition! This is how I think about it too :) You know, it’s funny, but just the other day I saw my Nancy Drew books sitting on the shelf and I thought about pulling one out and reading it again!

  17. Just seeing the covers of those books take me right back. I used to become so immersed in Trixie Belden books! Great post.

    • She was my favourite — but when I ran out of her books I went to Nancy Drew then on to Agatha Christie

  18. I guess I’m not the only one who thinks you came up with a fabulous definition of “living vicariously.”

  19. Great, great post! I think that’s why I love reading things so much…. because it will always guarantee me some sort of vicarious experience that I can lose myself in. Also, I loved Nancy Drew when I was younger too. Sometimes they got a little scary for me but I just attributed it to good writing. :)

    • Reading really does provide the ultimate in vicarious experiences doesn’t it–we can kind of try something out in our mind first.

  20. I love this word.

  21. Thank you for reminding me of Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, they were my favourite childhood reads. I recall being swept away by them.

    • I was too – you should write a haiku about them

      • I might need to return to reading one of the Trixie Beldens I think before doing that. I was in a second hand shop a while back and saw some Trixie Beldens. Perhaps I need to pop back and grab one:)

      • I still have some of mine, but they are totally falling apart

  22. Fantastic! And I love your bucket list :)

  23. You are up to V already and I’ve missed so many posts! I’ll be catching up in time, forgive me my lack of visits. :)

    • you have been a busy girl – do not worry- though you were the inspiration

  24. Back again.The family haven’t woken up yet so I managed to read this one – and maybe more.
    What a delightful definition of vicarious. I love to read and get lost in a book too, that life is mine while I’m in there and I long to go, do, what had been done. A life list indeed, never the other! :)

  25. Hi there. Love your definition of vicarious. The movie thing is perfect. Although I didn’t read Nancy Drew, I know from conversations with my kids, they got a lot of joy out of them.

  26. Great post! I know what you mean about the imagination made richer by reading books like Nancy Drew. I was always wishing I’d get caught up in some mystery so I can play detective. For quite some time I wanted to become a detective too!

    Good luck with your life list. You have some pretty nice goals and I hope you manage to achieve them. =]

  27. Wonderful post! I lived in the boonies growing up, but shared Trixie Beldon books with my friend….this got us through many hot and humid summers. Thanks for stirring those memories up! paula

  28. Not only well done on the post, but thanks for reminding me of the Hardy Boys.


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