Think of a world where almost anything is possible – a place where even the wackiest and craziest ideas can take shape and become real if we’re willing to invest the time and effort into making them happen.
Think of a world full of colour and vibrancy and light; a place that can be explored and probed and investigated, and which will constantly surprise and astound us, the more that we look.
A world where people from every walk of life and extraordinarily diverse backgrounds and cultures can mingle, share and collaborate in a wealth of experiential spaces – where music, art and culture happily cohabit with sport, adventure and fantasy.
A world where we can be creative and have our perceptions and talents challenged and expanded; a place where success can be measured in terms other than purely monetary, and where we can express ourselves, not only by what we do, but by how we do it.
It’s a world that is by no means perfect… it can be unreliable and let us down when it’s most inconvenient. There are times when it can be infuriating, irritating and downright annoying. There will be drama, upset and grief, but on the whole, it’s not that bad a place.
Sound familiar? It should… it’s the real world that we all live in, we just don’t manage to do it very well, much of the time, and i bet you thought i was talking about sl?
A recent conversation with a friend raised that old chestnut of what would we do if a whole shedload of money was to come in our direction. Top of my list was to travel, closely followed by quitting my job and finding an old stone cottage in the country to live in, (perhaps with a sea view), and a pretty olde-worlde country garden. The chances of that happening, of course, are exceedingly remote and as we pondered the realities of life, another question came to the fore: Forget the money… if you had the chance, what would you rather be doing, instead of what you’re doing for a living now?
It turns out that my friend used to paint, but as life got in the way… jobs, housework, husband, kids, and so on, the painting was put to one side and it’s now been many years since she last picked up a brush. As for me? Well, it may not surprise you – although in many ways it still manages to surprise me – i think i’d really like to give writing for a living a go.
The big question is… what happened next?
Well, sl muscled in on the scene. It pushed its way into my mind and stood there, glaring at me and insisted that i take notice. So i looked, and i saw, and i realised what it was trying to tell me – there’s really not that much difference between sl and rl, (apart from the flying and teleporting, of course), and when i looked at the ways in which i’ve explored my abilities – and frequently, inabilities – within the virtual world i was forced to ask myself the question: “What the hell is stopping you from doing this stuff in rl? You some sort of scaredy cat, or something?”
Yes, indeed i am! i’m scared that people will laugh at me and poke fun, i’m scared that i’ll fail and i’m scared that there’s a billion people out there who are so much better than me… but, there’s no way i’m going to let a virtual world mock me like that! Besides, i’ve fallen flat on my face more than once in sl, i’ve been laughed at, made a fool of myself and – at the end of it all – i couldn’t give a toss! And so, in my mind’s eye, i shook sl gratefully by the hand and said ‘thank you very much’ for the good advice.
i told my friend that she should start painting again, and not to give a fig about what other people might think or say – if it makes you happy, do it! And, you know what? She did! She’s kitted herself out with new brushes and paints, and she’s getting on with the job, and boy does it make her feel good about herself! i’m dead proud of her!
What’s that? Oh… yes, me…
Yes, dammit – i did something about it! i sent one of my stories off to a real life reading group and i’ve asked them to tell me what they think… and if they think it’s good, i’m gonna… well, i don’t know, but i’ll think of something after that! So, they might think it’s trash, but i really don’t care – you see, taking the sl approach and bringing it kicking and screaming into the real world has made me feel that – just possibly – there really is more to life than the nine-to-five daily grind and that we can actually do the things we really want to. It may not be seeing the world and country cottages by the sea, but perhaps it really could be the next best thing!
Why should sl have all the fun, anyway?
Tell me what you wanna do
And I could throw it back to you, yeah!
I’ve found a place where we can go
Between the streets and the stars
The Electric Stars – Between The Streets And The Stars