How to Disappear Completely

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Second Life has the fascinating ability to be like a virtual Russian nesting doll, with its residents often falling in with a compelling crowd or niche interest, which in turn becomes the circles we travel within. Bloggers frequently find familiar faces at shopping events; photographers spy names from their Flickr circles at picturesque sims; live music aficionados often discover a musician or DJ whom they enjoy, and will venture to those events again and again. That’s not to say that these crowds, and so many others like them, don’t intersect. But they can also be very insular; on days where there may be 40,000 residents signed in and spread across nearly 25,000 regions, you may still bump into someone whom you recognize on your virtual world travels. A boon for those who love to socialize, but difficult at times when you’re longing for a little bit of solace and space.

There are parts of me that truly want to desire the constant connection that compels my social butterfly counterparts, but my introverted roots dig deeply into their solitary soil. While I do enjoy one-on-one conversation with dear friends and loved ones, I’m often genuinely at ease being all by my lonesome. And when life, First and Second, began contentedly feeling like a jigsaw falling into place last month, I wanted to hold that to myself for a while, as one does a treasured keepsake. So when I was in-world, an occurrence that’s needfully becoming more infrequent, I sometimes ticked the Global Invisibility option in Firestorm, which I imagined would allow me to slip in as a shadow, clear notices and make some last-minute event visits, then exit quietly without causing any fuss.

But I’m foolish, I’ll admit: I’d forgotten that Global Invisibility is spotty at best, easily surmounted by certain scripts and by peeking at the members list of shared groups, and most importantly, can lead to some grievous misunderstandings and inadvertently hurt feelings. I’m very grateful to my dear friend Victoria, who gently and graciously reminded me of this potential. Although my auto-responder still irks some (primarily because it remains persistent through logouts, so if I forget to turn it off before closing the viewer, it will still be activated the next time I log in), it’s certainly preferable to anything that may arouse conflicted emotions or distrust.

Still, I’ve had to reorganize and prioritize, and the measures of relief brought by easing up a bit on my previous Do All The Things endeavors have been palpable. So perhaps the better title for this post would be “How to Disappear Selectively”, but Radiohead is my sonic touchstone, and I couldn’t possibly pass up on the poetic nod! Flickr is still my beloved haunt whenever time graciously allows, but I’ve needfully relaxed from trying to keep up with the over 1000 blogs (!) in my WordPress Reader. I’m in-world less frequently, but enjoying those moments all the more, and while I miss out on visiting most of the events I curate in my SL Shopping Events Calendar, it’s still a genuine pleasure to keep that resource going for myself and all those who find it to be helpful.

One thing I’ve found that I have in common with those closest to me is I’m a giver first and a giver second; meaning it’s difficult for me to ask for the things I want or need, and even harder for me to be a recipient without immediately looking for ways to return any gracious kindness or favor. But sometimes being selfish (that dreaded word) truly is the kindest thing you can be to yourself. So I’m not truly disappearing, not fading away, just quietly haunting the periphery of the virtual world for a while, as I once more find my equilibrium. It’s a genuinely wonderful thing when you recognize that you need to come back into balance, and you’re able to make the subtle adjustments to do so. To once more borrow wisdom from a Radiohead song, everything is in its right place. Alla prossima. ♡


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“That there, that’s not me
I go where I please
I walk through walls
I float down the Liffey
I’m not here
This isn’t happening …”

Look

Maitreya Body – Lara v3.5
Genesis Lab Head & Skin – Melissa
LeLutka Hair – H-NV-0001 (Naturals HUD with flowers add-on)

Style & Pose

Thalia Heckroth Dress – Nisha Gown (Rose Solid) *
Exposeur Pose – Spring Singles 12M

Destination & Inspiration

✈ Sights: Furillen
🎧 Sounds: Radiohead – How to Disappear Completely

Perfectly Aligned

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Carl Sagan, that most wonderful and wise multi-hyphenate (astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, author, and more) said something so thought-provoking and profound that the first time I heard it, it made the breath catch in my throat and my heart shiver:

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

I’ve remained captivated by those words because they speak so poetically and beautifully to the greater knowing that I believe is shared amongst virtually all religions; it makes itself a touchstone along spiritual journeys, and is even supported by those more rational and scientific minds, who state that energy can neither be created or destroyed, it only changes form.

Many cultures and theologies have an appreciation for this energy, this star stuff. In the Western world, we have some familiarity with the concepts of Chi (Chinese) or Ki (from Japan). But we seem to be fearful or cautious about the unseen having an effect upon our lives. That’s why meditation can be so beautiful and beneficial: the quieting of one’s mind, not to make something happen, but just to relax, to breathe, to behold and be held.

So many of us live our lives caught within a perpetual storm: thundering thoughts, sundering hope from our hearts, being in the world but forgetting that the far greater part of us is of the world too. We can be the calm in the eye of the storm; we can point our boats at the lighthouse and the shoreline and let go of the oars. We are energy, ever changing form; as vast as the ocean, and with brighter lights inside of us than the most luminous star stuff.

And in those brief, beautiful, soul-fulfilling moments when this knowing gently, graciously reminds us of who we really are … everything is perfectly aligned.


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“and the years go by
close your eyes
’cause everything is
perfectly aligned
don’t fail me now
ask me how
everything is
perfectly aligned …”

Look

Maitreya Body – Lara v3.5
Genesis Lab Head & Skin – Melissa
Izzie’s Freckles – Body Freckles II (Maitreya, Belleza, Slink Appliers & System Layers)
Murray Hair – Lindsay (Light Blondes HUD) New Release @ Hair Fair, through July 31st *

Style & Pose

Amala Headpiece – Pearl Drop (Gold)
Apple May Designs Jewelry – Body Jewelry (Maitreya Gold)
Label Motion Pose – Carrie 5

Destination & Inspiration

✈ Sights: Elysion
🎧 Sounds: Milo Greene – Perfectly Aligned

Home

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There have been a number of lovely memories inspired within me this last week, and perhaps my favorite was recalling the time I spent in Ireland while I was at University, a ten day tour with my small chamber choir as we toured several cities, stopping to sing at churches, pubs, and even a castle or two. I felt so bestirred by emotion during that trip, yet unwilling to take for granted a single moment. In my head like a gentle mantra, I kept remembering a concept attributed to Confucius in my philosophy courses: “No matter where you go, there you are.” To be true, no matter where we visited in Ireland, I was so present in that place and time, I could almost feel the passageways of my mind taking careful, ardent notes of my surroundings and experiences, in order to paint the most meaningful memories.

And one particularly lush recollection I have of Ireland is its bodies of water, how unique they felt to me. The North Atlantic Ocean lapping the shores of Galway was the same one I’d swam in whilst visiting New Jersey as a girl, but it felt so profoundly different: stoic and serene, worldly and wise, as though it was regarding this young woman with its thoughtful blue-gray eyes, asking her to stay awhile, maybe have a pint, and please: feel right at home.

The other day, I wrote that: “the most simple and poetic way I know how to describe it is that when you find your place here, Second Life feels like coming home.” I would expand upon that to say that it’s so much more than the platform that inspires this feeling, but truly the people and experiences we share within. I feel as though I’m emerging at last with grateful clarity from the occasional storms that have paused for a while on my prairie these past few weeks, and I have a number of wonderful SL residents to thank for that. Because without you, kind souls, this virtual world is like a harbor without a lighthouse. Or to borrow a beautiful sentiment from my favorite poet, Pablo Neruda: “You occupied the house that darkly awaited you, and then you lit the lamps …”


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“Relieved … I’m so relieved
The tables are turning
Don’t sacrifice this feeling
Home, is this my home?
Been starting over
Bathe in the water …”

Look

Slink Body – Hourglass v1.5.1
Genesis Lab Head & Skin – Melissa
Mandala Ears – Steking Ears Season 5
Avi-Glam Eyes – Elysian Eyes (Sunrise) *
Elua Hair – Oceana (Blonde HUD)

Style & Pose

TETRA Lingerie – Sporty Bra & Panties (fatpack for Maitreya Lara, Slink Hourglass & Slink Physique) New Release @ Kustom9, through August 10th *
!Bang Poses – Tease 3

Destination & Inspiration

✈ Sights: Black Basalt Beach
🎧 Sounds: Engineers – Home

Heart Hope

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There’s a beautiful collaboration threading its way through Flickr at the moment, created and curated by my always thoughtful and tremendously artistic friend GoodCross, on behalf of the White Canvas Gallery. It’s called the I Stand For Peace Challenge, and its aim is to “disown the mindless violence around us, and do something about it as artists”.

I have to be vulnerable for a moment and confess in honesty that when I first learned of this wonderful challenge, my heart just wasn’t in the right place to participate. I don’t mean from an ideological standpoint; I think the world of GC’s intentions, and I’m a passionate advocate for peace, equality, and freedom in all its myriad forms. But rather, in the days since my last post, SLife has been a riotous roller coaster of marvelous highs and melancholy lows. Everything from spontaneously spiriting around the course at Relay For Life whilst performing a choreographed pom-pom dance with two of my dear friends, tears of joyful laughter blurring my vision as we lag-looped our way through the connected regions … to finding myself once more in tears of a far more somber sort, deeply akin to those I wrote about several days ago.

But clouds, as they gracefully do, started to gently lift, and a bright parhelion began shining in my direction. Several of them, actually, in the form of nominations to participate in this challenge. And I realized that I was being indulgent and selfish in my sadness, and that’s so uncharacteristic of the beautifully collaborative nature of SL. One of Linden Lab’s original slogans was “Your World, Your Imagination”, and that always resonated so deeply with me, because the “your” in this case can be both singular and collective, and often times our community comes together in incredibly thoughtful, poignant ways. From supporting a virtual world designer who’s facing a health crisis, to fundraising for a tragedy like the Pulse Nightclub shooting, SL residents have always had a profound desire to support and inspire, to pay it forward and pledge solidarity for a worthwhile cause.

And because the universe works in brilliantly thoughtful ways, when I was contemplating what kind of picture to take, this song came on my SL playlist and its symbolism aligned perfectly with my thoughts in more ways than one. When it comes to peace, whether inward or as a greater hope, I always return to one of my touchstones, Joseph Campbell’s teaching: “follow your bliss”. I truly believe that if we all followed this simple but tremendously profound philosophy, peace would prosper because genuine bliss never creates divisions, strife, feelings of lack, or unworthiness. If we could all just express heartfelt love, appreciation, gratitude, and respect for each-other, we would do just as GoodCross yearns and all be united in every world and reality.

It’s a beautiful hope to hold onto; hope is so essential and a truly enlightened state of grace. So until that hope becomes a reality, I stand for peace. And it’s my dearest wish that you will too. ♡


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“Cause I need something more than everything
A higher self deep within
And I know, we need a little heart hope
I know we’ve gotta outgrow, and feel a little heart hope
Cause there is something more than everything
So feel the love and let it in
Cause I know, we need a little heart hope …”

Look
Maitreya Body – Lara v3.5
Genesis Lab Head & Skin – Melissa
Izzie’s Freckles – Body Freckles II (Maitreya, Belleza, Slink Appliers & System Layers)
Mandala Ears – Steking Ears Season 5
Damien Fate Eyelashes – FATELashes v2.0
Avi-Glam Eyes – Ardent Eyes (Sky v2) *
Eaters Coma Hair – Hair 49 (Light Mauve)

Style & Pose
Paper Arrow Jewelry – Heart Necklace (Gold)
Corvus Wings – Mesh Wings (White)
Phedora Bodysuit – Asteria Bodysuit (Maitreya Lara)
Imeka Pose – Loli Pose 1

Destination & Inspiration

✈ Sights: Follow Your Bliss
🎧 Sounds: Oh Wonder – Heart Hope

Gold Dust

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Every time I have the honor and pleasure of finding out that I have something curiously in common with a loved one, it’s like a gift to me. And I mean that so sincerely: it feels like my heart expands with greater love and appreciation – or as my dear friend Abyss would say: “I liked you a little more today.” Such a lovely feeling.

And Abyss is also one of the kindred spirits with whom I’ve shared this experience recently. As another wayfaring wanderer and explorer, I spoke to him about my lofty, ever-present goal of one day visiting every reachable region on the grid. “I get through about twenty regions, and then find myself distracted and feel compelled to start over from the beginning,” I said. I was delighted when he responded that he did the very same, always finding himself making a fresh start at exploring the landmarks within his own list, since regions seem to close with such frequency. And that’s a part of Second Life that I find to be equal parts fascinating and heartbreaking, the way that beloved regions have no actual permanence, ready at any moment to fade away into memory, like so many grains of sand through gently parted fingertips.

When I came back to Second Life in May of last year, I knew that virtually every region I remembered from the mid-2000s was likely long gone. No one whom I’d known back then was still in-world; designers and brands had come and gone; interest in SL from the greater RL population had waxed and waned; even the very tools with which we shape the virtual world had undergone transformations. But the core of what SL is, and ever was, has remained steadfast and true: a community and a collective; a haven and a harbor.

There are many people who don’t understand its purpose or value, or who look upon SL as an MMO with (as Linden Lab has stated) “no manufactured conflict, no set objective”. The most simple and poetic way I know how to describe it is that when you find your place here, Second Life feels like coming home. And just as we fill the ever-expanding circles of our homes and hearts with loved ones, those same places and spaces within SL should never be taken for granted. At any time, a cherished friend may cease logging in; a well-loved region could disappear; a favorite brand or venue might shut its virtual doors. So I just want to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for all who so kindly read these words and visit my pictures on Flickr; who populate our pixel planet with beautiful wares and places to wander; who have made SL the very real, tangible, living and breathing place it has become.

We may sadly be dwelling within the twilight days of this virtual world, with Project Sansar and immersive VR the new, compelling frontier. But it’s my sincere hope that there are many more years left for Second Life to flourish, and failing that, perhaps we’ll all band together like the merry, mischief-making misfits of the beloved TV show Firefly and keep our virtual colony thriving. But no matter what, these moments that we have together now … they’re worth their weight in gold. ♡


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“‘How did it go so fast?’
You’ll say as we are looking back
And then we’ll understand
We held gold dust in our hands …”

Look

Maitreya Body – Lara v3.5
Genesis Lab Head & Skin – Melissa
Mandala Ears – Steking Ears Season 5
Damien Fate Eyelashes – FATELashes v2.0
Avi-Glam Eyes – Ardent Eyes (Caramel v1) *
Opale Hair – Demi (Dark Browns Pack) New Release @ The Crossroads, through July 28th *

Style & Pose

Phedora Jewelry – Brigitte Necklace (Dark Gold)
TETRA Dress – Crystal Dress (Maitreya Fatpack) New Release @ The Crystal Heart Festival, through July 28th *
Label Motion Pose – Carrie Pose 6

Destination & Inspiration

✈ Sights: Blithe
🎧 Sounds: Tori Amos – Gold Dust