Beautiful sunrise this morning, glowing orange and pinks against a pale wintry blue sky streaked with glowing contrails and wispy grey and white clouds. There was ground frost covering the fields, with a mist rising above the frozen ground, and in the cold air my breath condensed into smoky billows. It put me in mind of an old Black Sabbath song I haven’t heard for a while (maybe it was the two long-haired rockers behind me, talking about heavy metal)… “In the misty morning, on the edge of time…”
Then my reverie was rudely interrupted by the arrival of a mum and her three uncontrollable kids… Cue an hour of screaming, sibling rivalry, chair kicking, arguments, Peppa sodding Pig, running around, high volume mobile phone conversations and an overwhelming aroma of oranges as the whole family decided to sate their daily vitamin C requirements in an orgy of citrus destruction. And then it got even better as a couple of lads turned up, clearly off their skulls on something or other, barely able to walk and singing football anthems at the top of their voices. Bear in mind that this was still before 9am! “…we’ve lost the rising sun, a final sign…”
Isn’t that always the way? Every time you get a a moment to yourself and find time to disconnect and lose yourself in a spot of private creativity, somebody comes along and ruins the moment; like Coleridge’s fabled person from Porlock, effectively cutting off the creative flow and bringing you back to harsh reality with a bump; that special moment now lost for all time; “…as the misty morning rolls away to die, reaching for the stars we blind the sky…”
It can happen in SL too, you can be happily getting on with your building project, playing a blinder of a DJ set, putting together the finishing touches to a new outfit ensemble or just enjoying the fun of spending time with friends, chilling or shopping, when all of sudden… Blammo! Real life decides to intervene and trip you up. It’s the knock on the door from the unwelcome visitor, the intrusive phone call at an inconvenient moment, the sudden unexpected kitchen disaster or the irritating computer crash. The things that break the spell and drag us away from what we’d prefer to be doing and, when we do finally regroup and try to pick up where we left off, it’s too late – the moment and the momentum has gone, leaving us feeling irritated and deprived. “We sailed across the air before we learned to fly; We thought that it could never end. We’d glide above the ground before we learned to run, run. Now it seems our world has come undone.”
It can be terribly annoying when those sort of things occur, especially when we’ve set ourselves up for getting properly stuck in to our inworld activities – we’ve made a brew, or maybe poured a glass of our favourite tipple, made ourselves comfortable, and prepped a selection of nibbles to keep you us going, and then, just when we’ve settled down and are properly engrossed in what we’re doing, we’re dragged rudely from our pursuit, have to make our apologetic BRBs, and then deal with whatever the real world has decided is more important than our entertainment: Our moment of respite from RL is over; we resign ourselves to the fatalistic inevitability of outside influences beyond our control, grit our teeth, and hope fervently that the interruption will soon pass, allowing us to get back to the serious business of enjoying SL. Fat chance of that! “…Oh they say that it’s over, and it just had to be; oh they say that it’s over, we’re lost children of the sea, oh.”
The trouble with being interrupted, mid virtual flow, is that – like the peace of my morning sunrise – once that mood is broken, it’s almost impossible to recapture. We may try, but it’s unlikely we’ll succeed: The motivation of earlier will have dissipated, the tea will be cold, the snacks somehow less appetising, or friends have logged off and the music has ended. Time, too, has passed and whereas we’d had all evening at our disposal before the cat decided to be sick all over the freshly ironed laundry, we’re now already thinking about making the sandwiches for work tomorrow and very conscious that bedtime is looming. All we wanted to do was laugh, and dance, and run and play in the virtual fields; build fantastical structures straight out of our imagination, and joke with friends, and instead we’re starting to yawn and rub our eyes, we’re losing track of the conversation around us and wondering where all the time went. “We made the mountains shake with laughter as we played, hiding in our corner of the world. Then we did the demon dance and rushed to nevermore, threw away the key and locked the door.”
Coming to think of it, although I may have frequently expressed my reservations about the onset of VR for SL, in particular, the way which it can isolate you from the world around you, I’m starting to form the opinion that just maybe that can be a good thing too… If you’re isolated from reality, clad in goggles and headphones, interruptions are going to have to up their game if they’re going to stand any chance of creating any distraction in the future – and that can only mean those wonderful, sublime, creative inworld moments can be enjoyed exactly as they were intended to be: Without interruption.
Now, if only I could find something that can do the same in RL!
Look out! The sky is falling down!
Look out! The world is spinning round and round and round!
Look out! The sun is going black, black
Look out! It’s never never never coming back, Look out!
Black Sabbath – Children Of The Sea