One Sunday, Selma, a 16-year-old teenage girl, wakes up and finds that her VRAG (Virtual Reality All-communications Goggles) has broken. Without a means to connect to the virtual world, she is left with no choice but facing directly the humdrum of real life in the physical world. Since she finds nothing that is remotely appealing to do at home, she wanders out the door and starts walking aimlessly. Sidewalk, driveway, cars, mailboxes, fire hydrant, grass, dandelions, wild violets, trees, dirt path, rocks, lichens, mushrooms, sticks, paw prints. Paw prints! Interesting. What kind of paw prints exactly are these? She wonders. Instinctively, she reaches up to her brow to press where the web search button would be on her VRAG. Striking air, her finger slides down her face instead.
Sighing and pouting all at once, she bends down and examines the prints more closely. Two teardrop shapes and two dots on each paw, what animal can that possibly be? Lifting up her head to ponder, she spots another set of prints, and another one, and on and on. Driven by curiosity, she starts to follow the prints down the dirt path. As soon as she rounds a curve, she catches a glimpse of a white tail. Wow. She just saw an actual real life white-tailed deer. If only she could take a picture… No matter, the chase is on. As she soldiers ahead, her last sighting of the deer is its graceful and swift gallop-jump right across a stream to the other side.
She cannot believe that her exciting journey has ended almost as soon as it has started. Undaunted, she walks up and the down the stream to weigh her next moves. She cannot see any other easy way around. It is about ten feet across at its narrowest part, too far to jump. It is about six inches deep, but the water feels icy cold, so walking across is an unappealing option and she minds getting her feet wet. There is no standing trees or shrubs along the water that she can remotely jerry-rig. Frustrated, she starts kicking a nearby log so hard that it rolls forward a few inches. That gives her idea. She can build a bridge.
After scouring around a bit, she can only find one suitable log which is about three feet long and nine inches in diameter and a couple of eight-inch-diameter rocks. She figures it may work if she can comfortably make a two-foot stride onto the three-foot log, drop a rock two feet away as a stepping stone, then jump across the last three feet. So she lines up the objects and tries out a practice run on land. When she steps on the log, it starts rolling. She also finds it hard to balance on the uneven surface of the rock, especially on one foot.
With obstacle after obstacle, she realizes how easy and vapid it has been for her to navigate around in the virtual world when everything is manipulative at her fingertips. Instead of feeling defeated, she is actually stimulated by the challenge. First order, how can she stop the log from rolling? Second order, how can she balance on an uneven rock? She moves back and fro, surveying the log and the rocks from different angles.
With a plan in mind, she jumps right into action. She keeps scooping up some loose sand and soil and depositing them two feet away into the water to form a base for her irregular rock. Then she flips over the rock and position the irregular side on top of the sandy base. Now, the flat side is facing up. She goes on to fill her pockets with smaller rocks and roll the log to the stream. Once the log is in the water, she carefully directs it into the correct position after stepping securely on the first flat rock. Since the bottom of the stream is not actually flat and smooth, the log is more stable than it is on land. But she still drops the rocks from her pocket to lodge the log in place.
It works. She has no problem walking to the end of the log and jump over the last couple feet to the other side. After landing triumphantly, she looks back to make sure she can make it back across. It may be close but she is now full of confidence that she will be able to make it work one way or the other.
She proceeds in the direction where the deer has headed. After a few minutes, she comes to an open area but the deer is nowhere in sight. In the center, there appears to be an unnatural hollow loosely covered by forest debris. As soon as she brushes away the leaves and dirt, it reveals two letters, “TV.” When she examines more closely, the letters are actually inscribed on some-sort of earthen lid. She removes the lid and then a simple weathered cardboard box underneath. She opens the box and finds a beautiful crystal inside together with a folded piece of paper. On the paper, it reads:
Congratulations! The Treasure Vessel you have found.
For a lifetime of adventures you will be bound.
With wit and improvisation, you solve more than one puzzle.
Your hard work and perseverance make you all the more special.
By trial and error, you jump over all your hurdles.
Your creativity and ingenuity will win you many medals.
Life’s most precious treasure already resides in your brain.
Now, spread its beauty far and wide like rain.
Let us imagine what if…