Off the grid

escapeFor the first time in far too long, I’ve recently had a chance to get away from it all and relax – it’s not a proper holiday, I’ve not had one of those for a number of years, (/me sighs), but I was fortunate enough to get out of the rat race for a whole three days, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Holidays have always been special to me – whether home or abroad, they are an opportunity for me to enjoy new experiences, immerse myself in culture and cultures that normally I wouldn’t have the chance to, and make a determined effort to break the suffocating routines that everyday life tends to impose on us. I’m not one for lazing on a beach, letting that precious time slip away into nothingness either – in fact, I can think of few things I’d enjoy less – I’d rather be out exploring off the beaten track, getting caught up in the everyday lives of other people and generally experiencing everything that my chosen destination has to offer. This can occasionally mean I end up in places and situations that are not to everybody’s taste… walking across a butt-clenchingly terrifying country border crossing resembling something out of Mad Max for example; slipping and sliding through goodness knows what nameless slime between the stalls of a South East Asian wet market; or sitting for hours on a railway platform in the blazing sun without a clue where I’m going, surrounded by hundreds of people who know exactly where they’re going, and unable to communicate with any of them. Fun!

This time, I left behind internet connections, mobile phones, electricity and gas supplies, heading out into the countryside to spend a couple of nights in a yurt! Cooking was in the old-fashioned manner – in a suspended cooking pot over a wood fire, and my days were spent exploring the woodlands, enjoying the fresh air and basically becoming utterly disconnected from the real world.

You might think that’s something I’d find terribly difficult, even for a short time, but much as I enjoy availing myself of 21st century technology, and despite the fact that I spend an inordinate amount of both my working and resting life plugged into the .net, I’m quite capable of cutting myself loose and getting back to nature.

lindenvillage_001Even inworld, you’ll tend to find me stepping off the well-worn paths and poking around in places that few people seem to want to explore – long abandoned parts of the Grid where once the Lindens played and virtual history was made, the highways and railroads of the mainland that lie mostly empty and forgotten, save for the occasional scripted bus; wildernesses, wastelands and backwaters, only visited by their owners and the occasional curious passerby. The Grid may be a vast place, but an awful lot of it is practically sterile, devoid of life and left to its own devices.

It often seems that the populace of SL, now lack the time or the energy to take time out – it’s shopping here, then TP’ing off to another mall, then crashing the latest fayre before whizzing back to the favourite club for a while before logging off. Many of us seem to have brought the frenetic and draining activity of the real world into the virtual with us – the urgent need to be somewhere, the perverse desire to always be doing something, when often what we could really do with is to do nothing, just mosey around, occupying ourselves with a bit of this and that, stopping to sit and stare and, basically, make the most of the big old virtual world we’ve been blessed with.

One of the great things about SL is that it gives us the opportunity to ‘holiday’ whenever we feel the need – we don’t need to book time off, arrange travel and hotels or shell out cash that we just don’t have. And yet, how many of us never take that opportunity and instead spend all our inworld time rushing about, being subject to demands on our time and energy and generally succumbing to all the pressures and demands on our time that we face in our day-to-day lives?

Maybe I’m wrong, and that’s not how it is for you, but I do sometimes wonder.

Sometimes we need a break, even virtually.


s. x

Solitude sometimes is
The place that I would like to live
Solitude sometimes is
When nothing really seems to fit
Manic Street Preachers – Solitude Sometimes Is

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