Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My So-Called Second Life

Beauty is momentary in the mind--
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.

Again, sorry to all that I have not written. I did write one other thing: I submitted an article to a wine and spirits newsletter...a retail rag, really, and my little piece is going in. It was fun to write what those in the biz call 'shelf talk,' and I hope to become a semi-regular contributor. Fame on the small scale :) Who knows, could lead to wine at wholesale if I help their sales.

The multi-textured fact is that Second Life has come to take the time this blog used to take, and how I feel about that remains uncertain. But why? How has a virtual world full of avatars taken the place of my reflections here?

Fundamentally, the issue is that I stress over everything; I always feel tension...always. Work scares me, I am often scared of my wife, house cleaning, cooking...except for exercise and alcohol, very little doesn't make me nervous. Oh, and sailing, but I haven't been in months...the new season is rolling around. My anxiety/tension is nowhere near where it once was, granted. But it's still there, simmering, clenching, and always fatiguing. And frankly, Second Life gives me something else to do and think about than the things that make me nervous, especially when I'm home alone. It takes the fantasy world of novels, film, and legend and drops me smack in the center. It is difficult to understate its power for those who have not spent time there, or in the right places there. Sure it's thrilling to watch a heart-rending, purgative story like Cameron's Titanic (for Hollywood, a moving film); now imagine if you could go on the ship, speak with the characters, live the experience...the rage and tears. But not the fear. Not the fear because role playing in SL is a lot like method acting...the scene ends whenever you want it to. There are no real threats to the people behind the terminals. And while feelings can linger into the day, even painful or angry ones, overall, I have found it an extraordinary experience that ends when the program closes, provides a generalized soothing effect. I'd also note that I have found myself better at assertion in the real world, because I've had to do it in the virtual.

Have I spent too much time there? Some days, yes. Overall, maybe. But then it's new and I'm finding my balance. I'm still reading The Yellow Admiral, still watching a few good shows on tv (Jon Stewart, Medium, and the Time Goes By reruns are my faves) and still interacting with my family! As I said, I generally only enter the Grid when I'm home alone. The time elapsed since I began hanging out there...maybe three too short to give a definitive assessment.

One thing I will say, since I say it in SL often enough, is that I have honored my wife every time I've logged in. I did not know this when I went there, didn't know it for a while, actually, but avatars can be animated so it appears they're having sex, and though I've never really seen that, I've surely never done it! No av sex, no romantic relationships....though I've seen already that flirting and the feelings that go with it are rampant in SL. Someone might flatter just a bit more than he or she would at a real cocktail party...and while it's mostly harmless fun, I had to set my boundaries some time ago. To this day I've kept them :) It's surprisingly complicated in role play, or can be at moments, but I often talk about my rl wife. Again, the best analogy I have would be theatre, method acting in particular.

Is the magic of this place genuine or counterfeit? Only time will tell me. In the meantime, though, it's nice to fall asleep thinking about my swordfighting and not trying to solve the problem of evil in a theist construct. Breaks are good. And I believe God is still reaching in, teaching and molding. I've had little recreation, certainly almost none on a regular scale, since my back injury (and I had an MRI last week, and get the results tomorroww: after 7 months of dealing) and SL does give me that. It's an adventure, if nothing else...and soothing.....a dynamic combination for me .

Peace and acceptance to all...