Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Adventure Continues

Second Life can be the most sublime of places at times. One of the neighbors of my first land is a girl who is in a wheelchair in Real Life and loves that in Second Life she can fly and walk. I have friends in Second Life that are disabled, suffer from MS, are deaf, or are shut-ins for various reasons. All of them can live a rich life in Second Life, abandoning their limits or problems when they log in. This is one of the things I love most about Second Life.

Then there are some who are very self-centered for various reasons and cause turmoil in the lives of those they purport to care about. They bring jealousy, selfishness, rumor-mongering, and worse into Second Life. While professing to love or care for others, they instead allow their own petty worries to mar the lives of those they most wish to be near. Upset and melodrama occur all around them. Like in Real Life, these are the people who spoil the fun for the rest of us. I pity them, they often lead sad lives consumed by their problems. In a perfect world I could help all of them, as it is, I can only help some of them, because helping them exhausts me.

Through all of this runs the relationships that we build in Second Life, the friends and the sometimes more than friends. The infatuations, the moments of lust, the camaraderie, and the sharing of common burdens and experiences enrich us with their variety. I am surprised at how attached I am to some of my friends when I consider I've never met them in Real Life, only chatted with them, and only shared part of a virtual world with them.

This past week has been filled with highs and lows, combining all of these experiences into an emotionally uplifting and draining week, not fully cathartic, but close. I learned that someone I know suffers from severe head trauma with blinding headaches and basically "lives" in Second Life because of this Real Life condition. The actions of a few drama-laden individuals caused lots of commotion in the group of my closest friends in Second Life, my friends at Paradise Lost, hopefully everything will return to normal there eventually. Finally, a growing infatuation/friendship of mine changed dramatically last night. She changed, wanting more from Second Life via her craft, and isn't satisfied with the relationship that I thought was blossoming.

I wear my heart on my sleeve, I can't help it. I enjoy the rush and the excitement of love and the learning about someone on a deep level. That also sets me up for a lot of pain. Each time the relationship ends, I'm crushed. What surprised me most about this one, is that its in a virtual world. I truly looked forward to spending time with her, flirting, talking, etc. it felt electric. Now, she's moving on and I'm faced with the loss and the emptiness that always follows. I didn't think my feelings were so intense about someone I met in a virtual world a month ago, but when she told me, it was like the floor fell out from beneath my feet and the world was no longer stable. No one was more surprised than I was about my reaction.

Now, I'm usually pretty bad about break-ups, I don't take rejection well, and my usual responses include anger, the cold-shoulder, pathetic attempts to convince them to continue the relationship, and worse. Contrary to historical record, I'm trying to change that behavior of mine. I would truly like to continue to remain friends with her, I value her insight, her humor, and her experience; I just hope the awkwardness of the change in the relationship doesn't prevent that. Having seen what self-centered behavior causes in the prior days of the week, my usual responses of causing drama to deal with the pain seem trite and highly unappealing. I've abhorred drama for years now, but have been unable to fully wipe it from my palette of reactions.

It would be easy to sulk, to take out my pain on those around me, to be angry at her, to beg her, or to do any number of stupid things. I plan to remove those options from the ones I will do, but that leads to a huge uncertainty in what to do next. The obvious actions to further my self-centered concern are removed and a new vista rises before me. Unfortunately, I don't know what to do next and my fear of losing what remains of our friendship is paralyzing me. I don't know what the healthy actions are, what is too much or too little.

So, if I seem a little unlike my normal self for a while, its because I'm growing and changing. Internally, I know that all good things must come to an end eventually and that a virtual world seems to have even more potential for rapid and unforseen change. On the bright side, all bad things must come to and end as well. If Paradise Lost recovers and returns to the way it was or better is unknown. If my friendship continues or gets better is unknown.

What is certain is more pain and more joy will happen, often in unforseen ways. The stable will crumble and the unstable will turn out to be made of firmament.

No matter what happens, no matter how much I dislike change sometimes, the adventure will continue and I look forward to what will happen.

If I keep telling myself that, someday I might believe it.

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