Khalil Gibran once wrote “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart”. And isn’t that what we notice really – in our virtual relationships? Whether we’re reading each others words or hearing each others voices, it’s the lights in the hearts that really touch us.
Just over a month ago, I noticed a post on WP Read Blogs called “I left” by Flora Nordenskiold. The post’s home, Blueberries and Milk in a Glass Bowl documents one woman’s reflections on her transition from Second Life to First Life, as she leaves the former to pursue her interests in the latter.
The ebook Reflections on Second Life, edited by Huckleberry Hax, is a collection of many of these blog posts and is available free online.
For Flora, Reflections acts “as a memory book, a closure of sorts for (her) and, perhaps, as a Second Life reference guide for others.” Hax comments that Flora’s reflections are a “quiet, albeit deeply personal contemplation” and I couldn’t describe them more aptly.
Personally, I found Flora’s contemplations on Writing, Fantasy, Dreams, Art, Style, Exploration, Glitches, Holidays, Conflict, Griefers, Profiles, Play, Blogging, Work, Sex, Avatars, Homes, Creativity, Love, and Friendship to be emotionally profound.
This excerpt alone, was enough to bring me to tears:
I got a long email from my best Second Life friend today and it made me miss Second Life. I miss her. She gave me the earmuffs I am wearing in the photo above; I think I wore them consistently for at least two months or more, I loved them so much. My friend and I would chat daily, more or less, for at least a year it seems. We would try to analyze Second Life dilemmas, reflect on things past, admire beautiful things, vent when we were upset about something, use the word moron a lot, freak out about certain things, gossip a little and laugh a lot. Nobody could have asked for a better friend. We are still connected outside of Second Life, but it is not the same; it is not daily, it is not as intense. It is not Second Life.
I found it fascinating to compare and contrast Flora’s experiences with my own, and found that her writings would speak to me on levels that weren’t always immediately apparent, but often more clearly as I’d be reminded of them as a result of my daily experiences in SL.
As she inexorably stepped away from her Second Life, I found myself appreciating mine so much more. Her posts would often help me recognise how truly blessed I’ve been to experience this alternative reality – and the people I love inside it.
Flora writes with a simple authenticity that I can only hope one day to match. If you’ve ever wanted to introduce the concept of Second Life to someone who isn’t yet in it, this is one way to do it. The book, and the blog, is easily digestible in bite-sized peices and is illustrated beautifully entirely with photos taken inworld – mostly by Flora herself.
Like all things, Flora’s posts have come to an end, which she wrote about in this post, entitled “Done”:
I am ready to leave Second Life behind now; it took me about a month to get to this point. I no longer feel the pull to log on to Second Life in the mornings and the evenings. I have found other things to do in real life that are equally satisfying. When I think back at Second Life I am no longer only tempted by the wonderful things I experienced there, like my friendships, the gallery, the blog and magical things like flying or teleporting. I also remember the things that were not so great now, like the pull to always log on (even if I didn’t really need to) and the incredible amount of time I invested and could have used for other things. When I look at photos I took in Second Life, I usually get butterflies in my stomach, remembering specific moments. I suspect this will always be the case.
I didn’t know Flora inworld, but I feel I have enjoyed a brief relationship with her. I know, if we had had the opportunity, that I would have really connected with Flora in Second Life. I admire the authentic and elegant legacy she has left behind her. But in spite of the fact that we have never met and will never meet, it doesn’t matter. Flora has a light in her heart that I consider myself lucky to have seen flicker, for even the briefest of moments.