One of my favourite things that I do in Second Life (SL) is take a swim in around my friend’s island, come back and gaze out into the horizon. As I look out, I take in everything my eye can see in its limited, about 120° vision. Yes, some of that is peripheral vision, but that is for the Science class. Looking at the calming waters that kiss the coastline, the other day, I could not help but think how I imagined much more than what my eyes could see.
What I was looking at was an animated version of a place I would love to get lost in for a while, yet my brain turned all that into a picture-perfect vision. The jagged shapes of the islands in the distance, for example, were too geometrically sharp to be real, yet I smoothed them out. I walked into the water and neither my feet nor my jeans were wet, yet I felt them so. Beyond this, everything that lay beyond the horizon, beyond the stars, under the water, the things I cannot use my senses to understand… they were all in the realm of my imagination. Yet, I religiously follow my routine, gaze into the horizon, wonder at what lay beyond, and let my thought engine run free, even run amok at times. This place, an IP address in the virtual world, was ‘home’ and from my home here, my imagination was free to take wings.
I have a small but very close list of friends, and over the past few days, much as I try not to, as I have gotten to know them better, I cannot help but paint a picture of how they would look in real life. It is probably in our genes – we want to know all the answers, even if sometimes we do not like the answer. Our curiosity is insatiable. And while curiosity can take us only so far, who comes in to bridge the gap? Imagination.
Over the past few weeks, I have been to a few destinations, seen a lot of people, met some of them, talked to a few, and befriended the ones I can now IM with. They have been my eyes and ears to the SL world, sharing information about this place that was otherwise not easy to come by. They answered my questions patiently and I hung out with some of them, but whenever I was by myself and would roam a new destination, it would be my imagination taking the test of bringing the place to life. I would rest my thoughts on the powerful shoulders of the SL make-believe world, and together, things would come to life.
What I realized is in every case, I was dipping into the memory files in my brain, and every time I came across a person, place or thing, I would connect them to my real-life memory, and let imagination join the dots. For example, in my case, in their real life, an Anna would be tall and slim, a Betty would wear glasses, and a John could, well, be anyone. In SL though, I have realized Annas, Bettys and Johns are not easy to come by. The names here are another story altogether. My own name would probably bring a 3 feet tall green, balding guy with large ears and droopy eyes. Maybe someone’s imagination has painted a different picture of me. It will be interesting to know, and I guess, time will tell. Till then, I can only imagine.