When I was very young, I accompanied my grandmother on a trip, and while I was away, my mom decided to thoroughly clean and organize my bedroom to a perfectly put-together and essentially unlived-in state. I was a bit of an unbridled hurricane at that age, but there was creativity amongst the chaos. We were a family of little means, so writing had become my solace: winsome poetry and rambling prose, song lyrics and abstract sketches. When I learned about her plans, I cried inconsolably, fearing that my private hamlet would be invaded and conquered, my whimsies and words all cast away as if they were meaningless scribbles and scrawls. Upon returning home, I found my room devoid of color and character, turned over and barren like fallow earth. It reminded me of the set dressing in a film, with carefully arranged assemblages of stuff and things, all meant to give the impression of coziness and comfort, but bereft of actual life. It felt disingenuous, a mirage: like when you close your eyes after a sunward gaze, and you see an impression of brightness that fades away into black. That room never felt like my own again, and it was the genesis for a poignant shift: I stopped feeling like I had permission to be childlike and free, and as life became mired in upheaval and trauma, being reined and restrained was sometimes the clearest path to emotional survival. We would move several times in the following years, we would lose one home to a fire, but even when everything I owned was swallowed by ash and smoke, I just kept trying to rebuild the refuge I longed for: one more time, desperate to make my bones.
There’s something so poetic about analogy and metaphor, and often I find that they’re the best means of expressing the inexpressible, to illuminate what may otherwise be shrouded in the dark. The profound emptiness I’ve been feeling since the passing of the baton between the old year and the new is akin to how I felt about my cleaned and decluttered room more than twenty years ago. Nothing has gone missing, and nothing is seemingly amiss, but it’s as though a sword-bearing trespasser has cleanly cleaved the “me” from “home”. My spirit, for lack of a perfect word, feels like a home without a house. And the familiar curves and planes of my body are as a house without a home.
Sadness is a coat of many colors; it reminds me of a classic Ani DiFranco tune. I keep trying to articulate how I feel and what I desire, but I’m “32 flavors and then some”, and they’re starting to clash and collide. I’m the devoted lover of language, showing up at its doorstep at all hours; it never fails to let me in. But if language is as a lover, then words are the caress: and sometimes, no matter how malleable my thoughts are, my words feel empty and hollow, not able to fully satisfy. In those times, I search for the eloquence of others, and I recently found a quote that spoke to how I’m feeling with insightful aplomb:
“At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.” – Brendan Behan
Those words have helped me to understand why “I feel empty” has been the touchstone phrase on my lips and fingertips when those closest to me ask if I’m okay. It’s feeling lost without physical loss; the ache of loneliness when you’re not actually alone. A dear friend suggested that I really needed to refill myself, and my mind swiftly imagined a deep and vast well with an organic network of roots through which those whom I care for are replenished. And therein lies the heart of my weakness: I can’t receive without trying to give it away. And when it’s gone, I just keep going. I’m so inept at letting others take care of me, I’ll become arid as a Southwestern desert, scorched as wildfire-touched earth, before I allow myself to admit that I’m parched.
But I’m taking the first steps, spending these past days sending heartfelt apologies to the designers and brand managers whom I blog for, and quietly removing myself from their groups. Now I’m once more as I arrived in this blog: unfettered and astray, and not quite sure how to be in the virtual world, rather than of it. A friend of mine once said that she believes that everyone in SL is broken; I gently amended that in my mind to “unfulfilled” and shared her thoughtful insight with another, who remarked that not only was the original statement more accurate, but that everyone in “real life” is broken too. Maybe we’re all right, and we’re alright too. We’re all in this together. To quote another apt and beautiful token of wisdom, a bit of a mash-up between Hemmingway and Cohen:
“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”
I feel empty, but lighter inside– in both of its poetic meanings. Less weighed down with commitments and the attendant fear that I’m letting people down, while trying to slowly warm myself to the embers that illuminate this hollow with their indelible glow. I really want to grow creatively, and to continue to be inspired by the artistic expression that SL encourages and fosters. I’m also cultivating an idea to transition my blog into a different kind of resource, encouraged by the SL Sales & Shopping Events Calendar that surprises and humbles me with the number of daily visits it generates. I would like to become a kind of ambassador for Second Life, helping people to find what they’re looking for, where to go, how to find their place. Although admittedly, it’s not an entirely altruistic endeavor, as I’ve been seeking that same direction and enlightenment at varying times over the last decade or more. But still … it’s a place to start.
None of us yet know how much time is left in SL’s gloaming. With Sansar on the horizon, I have to believe that we’re in the twilight years. I want to make them worthwhile and meaningful ones. To sneak in one final quote, which I’ve referenced before, “We’re all made of star stuff.” I think there’s a place for everyone in Second Life, if we locate ourselves on the map and then orient our desires to the virtual world around us. It’s like a vast, expansive sky with room for evermore constellations. So here’s to taking a breath, turning the page, and finding a new foothold amongst the stars.
🎧 Sounds: Dustin O’Halloran – An Empty Space