This morning you find me sitting quietly on a bench at the park, in the early morning sunshine. I’m a little early for a hospital appointment, it’s a lovely day, so why not? I thought. It reminds me of the last time I wrote a post whilst sitting on a park bench – a different time, different city, different circumstances… But the feeling of peace and tranquillity is the same.
I’m not particularly good at switching off and simply passing the time of day relaxing. When I do succeed, I do indeed make the most of it and enjoy the opportunity to unwind, but finding the time and the right environment often eludes me. Nevertheless, the chance to sit quietly and contemplate life, the metaverse and everything is one that I’m unlikely to pass on, if it should present itself.
The importance of down time is not to be underestimated… All work and no play does not make for a healthy lifestyle, hence the present vogue for promoting ‘work-life balance’ in many fields of business, (the cynic in me might want to surmise that these are those very occupations that would happily demand far more than its reasonable – it’s no different under the work-life balance banner, only now they can pretend they care!)
You’ll frequently find me spending time relaxing inworld in convivial settings, far from the madding crowd, and avoiding the fun and games that otherwise tends to typify the time we spend enjoying ourselves whilst logged in. Maybe the pace of SLife itself demands that sometimes we need to seek an escape from the frantic and frenetic, or perhaps SL is able to fulfil a far deeper need: That essential escape to somewhere quiet and distant from the real world, which is sometimes so hard to find in RL.
it can be difficult to find such a means to escape in the real world: The sun may not always be shining in real life; we may be stuck in an office in the middle of a meeting, far from any hint of peace and tranquillity; or it may be that the effort required to find that vital element of solitude we need is just too much to make it worthwhile. This is when SL can come to the rescue, making up for the real world’s insufficiencies and providing us with that missing ingredient… Peace, solitude, beauty.
Over the years, I’ve found many wonderful retreats where I can get away and relax in SL. Places where there’s nowhere to shop, no dancing and hijinx, no pressure to be doing anything in particular. Parks, forests, secluded beaches and fields filled with flowers. Such places are virtual gems: Once discovered, jealously guarded and revisited time and time again – these are amongst my favourite places in SL. Sadly, such retreats are frequently impermanent and – thanks to the changing nature of the virtual world – can disappear or change their character completely overnight; it’s the price we pay for the convenience of virtual real estate. Way back in my early SL days, before I had my own land and a place to call home, there was a forest I’d slink off to, where I’d sit for hours, lost in the moment – it’s still there today, but my own little niche there has gone and the forest has changed beyond recognition, now liberally studded with garish orbs demanding donations for its upkeep… That’s SLife for you.
That’s one of the reasons why a large part of my own land is given over to ‘nature’ – it’s not to everybody’s taste, but that’s not the point – it’s my parcel, and it fits the bill beautifully when it comes to providing that escape to tranquillity that every so often I need so much, the fact that it’s right on my doorstep is the icing on the cake. I’ve had a number of IMs from strangers who’ve stopped by and been captivated by the same things that stir me, so I must have done something right, and you’re more than welcome to drop by Nowhere Land any time you need somewhere to escape to. Even if you don’t, then at the very least, you really should find somewhere in SL that fits the bill, where you can sit quietly in the sun and listen to the birdsong and the wind, because such places are getting harder and harder to find in the real world.
I was walking in the park dreaming of a spark
When I heard the sprinklers whisper
Shimmer in the haze of summer lawns
Then I heard the children singing
They were running through the rainbows
They were singing a song for you
Marillion – Lavender