“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.