My real life is broken. I need to fix it. I've done a really excellent job of NOT thinking about what a mess my real life is by avoiding and ignoring it in Second Life.
But now it's time for me to look at my real life with gratitude instead of regret, and with resolve instead of defeat.
Life is beautiful. People -- real ones -- are beautiful. And you, no matter the shape of your body or the flaws on your face or the state of your health, YOU are beautiful in all three of your dimensions.
I'm just realizing this fact again, and I'm trying to actualize it. Those of you who know me well know that this is a game of tug-of-war that I've been playing for months. Here we go again.
This post in particular, I write to myself. Maybe it applies to you. Or maybe you've managed to find perfect balance, to juggle a virtual existence with your real one. I haven't. Once I had a real life I loved. I lost it and chose to hide out in a metaverse rather than deal with my mistakes. So this blog post is for me. And hey, maybe it's for you too. But if it's not, please don't take offense. I'm not preaching. I'm just . . . "writing it into existence," as I called it when I was a kid. When I was little, I used to write stories about things I wished would happen. And you know what? Sometimes it actually worked. (Practicing quantum physics at age eight. Wow.)
If you're like me and you're trying to get back to your real life -- to find beauty in yourself, to enjoy love in three-dimensional form, to actually physically TOUCH another human being who brings you joy, to hold someone and be held, to fill your real home and your real closet with beautiful things that make you happy, to touch the lives of others and leave your mark on a real world, and to get outside, breathe actual air, feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and, hell, dance by the light of the moon, then start with this list.
1. Make a to-do list of little things to accomplish each day in real life. No, you can't throw on a "skin" and be instantly beautiful or teleport to an amazing sim, but you can get a haircut, buy some new lipstick (cheap even, at Walgreens), do some sit-ups, take a walk, try a new food, read a book by a new author, watch a film in a foreign language, sightsee in your city as if you were a tourist. You get the gist of it.
Make sure your goals fall in ALL categories: small, big, easy, hard, fun, and not-that fun. Balance them out each day: "I'll go get some hazelnut gelato . . . AND send out five resumes . . . AND allow my friend to set me up on that blind date she's been threatening me with for months."
2. If you're an avid reader of Second Life blogs, kill them from your bookmarks and delete them from your Google reader. Clear your browser history. Empty your cache. Make it as difficult as possible to read about anything that's going on in that fantasy you've started retreating to on a daily basis.
3. If you're cheating on your real-life spouse or significant other with an avatar in Second Life, it's time for you to QUIT IT. Yeah, I'm speaking bluntly, and maybe you're reading this post right now because you're supposed to hear it. You have someone who loves you in real life. Some of us don't and would give anything to be in your shoes. If you're reading this and you fall in this category, get up, walk away from your computer immediately and go make passionate love to that real person who loves you. If you're not happy in your real-life relationship, figure out why. If it can be fixed, FIX IT. If it can't, get some balls (pardon my French) and walk away. And yeah, it really is that easy. Trust me. I've been there.
I go to sleep alone every night. I wake up alone every morning. When I need someone to talk to during the course of an average day, I talk to my pets. They don't talk back. If you share a home with someone, for the love of God, please turn off your computer and go cherish that person. You don't want to be where I am right now. It is really dark here.
4. Kill the SL viewer from your applications folder. Your computer also will thank you for the large chunk of memory it'll suddenly have.
5. All of your SL photos -- if you can't bring yourself to delete them, stash them somewhere deep in the bowels of your hard drive. Log out of your Second Life Flickr or Photobucket account and create one for your real life. Take a new picture every day . . . of your real life. Pets, things that make you happy, a garden you actually grow with your real hands, your freaky neighbors, a sunset, you and your friends in goofy "poses," whatever. Break the habit of celebrating a pixelated life and celebrate the real one in front of your face.
6. Kill the e-mail account associated with your Second Life account. Uncheck that box in Preferences that sends your SL instant messages to your e-mail.
7. If you blog, and Second Life fulfills a blogging-slash-creative writing need, GET BACK TO YOUR REAL BLOG. Once upon a time, I had a blog with 250 subscribers. Apparently it was fun to read, so much so that a publisher asked if she could publish part of it as a chapter in a "chick lit" book. (The book is called "The Water Cooler Diaries" -- do me a favor and order it off Amazon.com HERE if you feel so inclined. If you read this blog, you know my first name. I'm sure you'll be able to find my stupid chapter.)
About a year ago, Second Life started seeping into my real-life blog. This one, "Emerald's Eyes," evolved when my readers started e-mailing me and asking, "Please don't write about that video game anymore. We miss your funny REAL stories."
That should have been a sign right there.
8. A long time ago, I used to worry too much. Finally I made a deal with myself. Every time I started worrying, I'd get down on the ground and do 60 crunches. Within about two months, I had abs of steel. Strangers would walk up to me and ask if they could touch my stomach. (OK, not really, but I bet they were thinking it.) I'm going to do the same thing with Second Life. From now on, whenever I think about it, I'm gonna hit the floor and crunch.
9. Note that I'm not brave enough to tell you to kill your Second Life account. I would never tell someone to do something that I myself can't do. And I just can't. Even though my premium account sucks money from my MasterCard four times a year, I still can't. There are people and things that I love in Second Life. I'm so grateful that some of those people have crossed over to my real life, because I have no doubt that I will love and support them until I'm old and grey. But I can't send Emerald Wynn to the chopping block. At least not right now.
And I can't say goodbye forever to my SL friends. I don't even know what they really look like. I don't even know many of their real names. And funny enough, I can't even really visualize them as avatars because they change their hair, fashion style and skins so often. I think of them instead as just . . . shining beings, sometimes in shades of colors, sometimes in shades of emotions . . . but mostly they just shine like bright lights in my life.
I think that's the way God sees us, actually. And I am so blessed to have gotten those glimpses of some of your souls.
And as shallow as it sounds, there are things in my inventory that I love. Like Fuzzy the Bunny. How could I send him into virtual oblivion? Or my fish tank? Or all my hard-sought Random Calliope Ode jewelry? Or Dewey, my cat? Yep, as morbid as it sounds, when my beloved cat of 22 years died last year, I was shocked and delighted to find a "virtual version" of her at a pet store in Second Life. Same stripes and everything. It helped with the grieving process, as weird as that sounds.
So, um, pay your rent several months in advance, just in case you decide to return. After all, you don't want to "wake up" again one day in Second Life months from now and find yourself standing around on Orientation Island with a bunch of noobs.
I'm not really going to say goodbye here because I know for a fact that I have absolutely zero willpower.
But I'm gonna give it a shot.
Twenty bucks says I won't even last a week.