Spoilt for choice

One of the ‘joys’ of frequently working away is the necessity of routinely eating out at restaurants and hotels. Whilst this may seem like a dream come true for many, the reality – like so many things – can be very different.

At first, it’s a pleasure – a bit of a treat and a novelty that you don’t think you’ll ever quite get used to. However, before long the novelty fades and you find yourself viewing the whole exercise as something of a chore. There are few things more depressing than walking into a restaurant and adding for a ‘table for one’ and when you’re on your third meal out that week, you find yourself desperate for some proper, home-cooked food, or the simplicity of rustling up some cheese on toast, curled up on the sofa in your PJs, accompanied by some proper tea in your favourite mug. Then there are the never-ending battles to stay within the meagre budget you’ve been permitted whist trying desperately to keep the pounds off the waistline – both lost causes, I’m afraid.

And some places, there’s just nowhere to eat. Thankfully, I didn’t have that particular problem this week, with a wealth of establishments to choose from – and an opportunity to try somewhere new, and very enjoyable it was too. I couldn’t help but chuckle though when I looked at their drinks ‘specials’ board, which proudly proclaimed :

I assumed that the wine drinkers of this town are an undemanding bunch!

It brought to mind some of the wine related conversations I’ve had in SL, which, on occasion, have verged on the intensely oenophillic – although I’m no wine buff really, I just know what I enjoy – which is something that can be said for SL in general. Most of us are well aware of the huge complexity and diversity of activities that the virtual world offers us, and yet the majority of us manage to mask out much of it in order to concentrate specifically on the elements that we enjoy… We know what we like, and we stick to it, even though we know there’s a whole virtual world of alternative things we can do to fill our time, we tend not to go down that route unless circumstances contrive to send us that way.

Even the most outgoing and adventurous of us seem to like our routines and established pursuits and what may seem to be a very full and varied virtual life can often revolve around a surprisingly small and limited range of people, places and activities, and because of that, there’s always the danger that we may become jaded, even bored with SL, despite the colossal number of things we could be getting up to. Like going out for a meal too frequently, it can become a bind and a chore; something that lacks the lustre it might once have held, and may even become a negative experience.

There’s a simple test we can do – even if our Second Life is currently fulfilling – ask yourself the question, ‘When was the last time I did something completely different?’

William Cowper tells us that ‘variety is the very spice of life’, and I’m sure that few of us would disagree, but so often we settle into a comfortable, regular, reliable, dependable – and possibly boring – routine. Maybe that’s somewhat unavoidable in RL, and many of us head off to the virtual world for that very reason: When life gets routine and dull, we seek refreshment and stimulation by bringing SL into the mix… And yet, after a while, so many of us have replaced the routine, dependable rituals of real life, with routine, dependable rituals of a virtual nature instead. That strikes me as odd, especially when there’s such a variety of entertainments that the virtual world offers us in abundance, much of which may be denied to us, for a variety of reasons in the real world.

We may, of course, think that our virtual lives are deeply fulfilling, but it’s surprising how often that fulfilment is defined within a very narrow spectrum – maybe it’s clubbing, shopping, roleplay, or building, but surprisingly frequently it rarely encapsulates more than a single, or perhaps two, divergent experiences. It’s a bit like the specials board… We’re happy with wine, and may even appreciate a glass of both red and white, but for some reason we never ask to see the wine list and the huge number of possible varieties, vintages and tastes that we could choose from, if only we were willing to experiment a little.I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but it does seem a shame to miss out simply because we prefer to stick with what we know.

Personally, I’ve always tried to seek out new experiences in both lives – I’m never content with just red or white – which is not to say that I don’t occasionally get stuck in a rut, but if I do, I don’t hang around there for long and I’m always looking for something new and different… And, in SL, ‘new and different’ could be a whole new ball game altogether!

s. x

When we all give the power
We all give the best
Every minute of an hour
Don’t think about the rest
Then you all get the power
You all get the best
Opus – Live Is Life



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