Sunday, February 8, 2015

Saving Grace

It's no secret that I've put a lot of RL Beth into SL Beth.

In Second Life, I don't try to hide who I am in the real world... and I mean who I am as a person, not my real name, address and social security number! It's also occurred to me that I'm far less concerned with SL folks finding out all about me than I am RL folks finding out all about SL me.

Much of what defines SL Beth is what also defines RL Beth.
But how does SL Beth help define RL Beth?
Quite a bit, I think.

I've got a bit of the flu right now and late last night I found myself in Second Life wandering around in that sort of feverish haze one gets when one has the flu and I had one of those revelations that come when one isn't quite all there.
I was sitting in a seedy blues bar watching Beth Odets perform and I realized that at that moment, the world of SL was exceedingly real to me. I was sitting in that bar. I was completely immersed in Second Life... the real world ceased to exist for those moments.
And when I logged off, and came back into the real world, I realized that I was still Beth Macbain.

She is me, and I am her, and not only do the worlds blur when I'm in Second Life, they also blur when I'm not.
How does this manifest?

In the real world, without Second Life, I'm far less confident and self-assured. Beth Macbain can go anywhere and do anything. There's nothing she can't conquer.
Being Beth Macbain gives me confidence. When I'm on the grid, the world is my oyster. I am completely in control. My body, my surroundings, my world. There is no job, there is no electricity bill to pay, no groceries to buy... hell, my virtual pets don't even need food.
In Second Life, I am gifted with the ability to live life exactly as I choose. Outside of paying my tier, I'm beholden to nothing.

There's Hugh... but he certainly isn't an obligation. He's joy and sunshine and laughter. And together, we define our world. It's the same sort of control, only shared with another.
And when I log off, that feeling of empowerment doesn't go away.

My real life world certainly isn't as serene as my Second Life world. There is rent that is in the hundreds of dollars a month instead of $65. There is a job that I have to show up for five days a week. There's a litter box to be scooped. There's an elderly father to love and keep an eye on.

There is flu. :-)
The control I have in Second Life very much bleeds into real life. I walk a little straighter. My head is held a bit higher. When I close my eyes, I don't see the overweight, middle-aged, apartment-dwelling. desk-bound, problem-laden Beth.
I see the strong, confident, empowered, independent woman I am in Second Life.

They are the same person.
Is this therapy? Absolutely.

One of the most fascinating things for me about SL is the platform it provides to differently-abled people. Parkinson's, Autism, MS, all variety of different physical and mental/emotional problems can be swept away in SL as if they don't exist. It enables people from all walks of life to feel "normal" for the time they're logged in.
I'm not quite in one of those situations... I'm just a fat introvert! But it fills me with joy to know that this world, this Second Life world, provides those folks with the chance to shake off their real world things... and I have to believe that the independence and confidence they gain carries into their real lives.
There is nothing that SL Beth can't do... and as such, when I log off, I feel very much that there is nothing RL Beth can't do.
Am I alone in this? Surely not. We're all in Second Life for something... for a reason known only to us and I'm sure we all take away something from our experiences in world when we log off.
Isn't that cool? I mean, really? Isn't that the neatest thing ever? It's why I come back again and again and again. When I'm not in SL for a period of time, it dissipates. It's been a while since I experienced that... several years, actually. I think I was gone from SL for most of 2011-12 and though I didn't realize it at the time, I felt the absence. I came back for a reason and I didn't even know it.

I was craving something and it's still difficult to define exactly what that was, but I find it every time I log in.
Balance. Power. Independence. Strength.

Will Second Life always be here? I don't know, but I doubt it. But I think there will always be something in my real life that I use for an escape.

Some (most) in my real life find it odd that this virtual world plays such a big part in my life. They're not a part of Second Life so they can't comprehend what I get from it, and that's okay. I don't necessarily want to share it with them. They know about it... I refuse to hide Second Life like it's something to be ashamed of. I don't want them here, though.

I mean, sure, they're welcome to join Second Life and I would encourage them to give it a try... but they'll never know the name "Beth Macbain" in association with RL Beth. Beth Macbain is my little real life secret.
But they get to experience some of the benefits of RL Beth being SL Beth.

Because they're very blended... I guess SL Beth helps RL Beth remember that there is nothing I can't handle. As I benefit, so do those around me. The confidence, the ability to deal... it's all there, RL and SL.

I just need SL Beth to remind me of that. As much as SL Beth is RL Beth... RL Beth is also SL Beth. And I'll always be grateful to SL for providing that mirror.

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