Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mirrors and Dreams

The strangest thing happened. I felt the need to have an Ode hunt to see what would happen and felt that I would know when it did. At the hunt I met Tammi McMillan and we talked briefly, but enough for us both to anticipate talking more very soon.

Later I learned that Tammi is a very accomplished lucid dreamer. Should I have prefaced that with "in RL"? I don't think so. That is the point of the rest of this post. Initially, upon hearing Tammi's story that was shared with me in such an intuitive way at a time when I wasn't willing to listen, the persistent non-dreamer in me kept asking "so what does all that talent get you?"

Really, what advantage does the dreamer have who can see extreme detail and perform feats in dreams that very few others in known humankind can?

Answering that, or rather letting the question answer itself, became "Mirrors and Dreams".

(Mirrors & Dreams Ring)

First, and I don't think it is at all unrelated, Tammi is also empathic. I know this not because she said so. I know because throughout our collaboration she would tell me what I told her in her dreams the night before. In *every* instance the words I said and thoughts I gave her in her dream were the very words and thoughts I intentionally did NOT tell her in our "real" conversations.

So what is real?

In Tammi's profile she has what she calls "Seuss' Law". It is a quotation that goes something like "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. - Dr. Seuss". I had seen that before but as simple as it is I honestly don't think I really understood all its nuances.

So all along Tammi is giving me lessons about the "say what you feel" part, which is something I don't do enough in my SL or in my RL. She's doing this with those dreams telling her what I feel. She also did this more directly when I asked her to step onto a rather strange dance ("apple" by sinewave) and it transformed that instant of time into one of the most intensly fulfilling and memorable moments in all my or her SL. In that instant we validated everything - the direction, the purpose, the process. All on an odd little dance that at first blush is just an over-kicked tango.

(Mirrors & Dreams Earrings)

Everything. Very few words were said. At that point we communicated almost entirely with only our avatars and our thoughts. I really don't know if this lasted hours or minutes.

Also in that instant I somehow wasn't communicating with Tammi, and I wasn't communicating with an avatar, and I wasn't communicating as a man to a woman or she as a woman to a man. Somehow, in that instant the person behind the screen on my end was connected via modulated bits and bytes passed electronically over a network to the person behind the screen on her end as we went beyond pondering the over-tangoed interaction of cartoon avatars.

Imagine that.

You've done that. Admit you have. Your scene may have been intimate or just joking around with a dance partner while you fed off each other's comments. Even when you fell silent you were in "sync" with one another. Such is the human connection. Are you in a virtual world dreaming? I mean is that really happening or are you imagining it is happening? Both. I choose to concentrate on the imagination part.

Now what is real and what is dream?

Can a person's avatar possibly be a better reflection of who they are than their physical-life body?


That is my well considered, qualified and undebatable (because I'm not going to debate it) conclusion.

(Mirrors & Dreams Bracelet)

When concluding this I am not looking at the physical world; the hazy and distant stars at twilight, the clearest moon, the misty moving clouds, the jagged rooftop skyline, the living trees, the tightening swirls of my fingertips, the porous tip of my nose or even the acid-trip-like lavalamp surface of the back of my eyes when I push on them with curious hands.

Go deeper.

I am looking at who I am inside. I am looking at who you are inside. I am looking at HOW "who I am" knows "who you are". I am looking at how your mind touches mine in a way you only partly determine, and at how mine touches yours if it can. That's the perspective of my conclusion.

Lately, in my second life, as well as my first, I have come to question my dreams. I think it is natural then when anyone starts doing this to themselves they initially think that's not a good thing, as it seems to be an indication that "all is not well".

I want to clarify that I did not say anything about comparing one's dreams to one's reality. Should one's reality even mimic one's dreams? Let your reality reach for your aspiration, by all means. But let your dreams remain free and unencumbered, unexpected - just happening as they will. "Dreams" and "aspirations" are vastly different.

Imagine - dream, if you will - how utterly liberating a dream must be if it has none of the trappings of aspirations.

Immediately, having taken away these value measurements, I find myself still asking "of what value is a pure dream?"

Then I met Tammi. Then I went from "talent dreaming has no value" to "talent dreaming has the extraordinary value of connecting our conscious minds to the possibilities of being alive". Isn't that really what Second Life does for us?

My Second Life avatar is a 7 foot tall, well proportioned almost bald man with a very well groomed mohawk (thanks again Tigerlily Koi!) who dresses impeccably at all times because that is what I have made myself to be. I am *NOT* a 70 year old man in assisted care sitting behind a computer with a shaky hand on the mouse and a greater knowledge of prosthetics, the evil side of mankind, and the cruelty of circumstance than I would ever care to admit. I'm not, so please don't ask or comment about it. No, what you see and come to know in SL is a much, much better reflection of who I am.

(Mirrors & Dreams Necklace)

I am not my aspirations. If I were that would be like saying that my profession defines me. I have very few aspirations. But oh I do have my dreams. Leave me my dreams and don't attempt to take them away from me. My dreams connect me with all lives and are very much who I am.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Pearl

Sometimes I'm an idiot.

One of my best friends, whose time I can't seem to get enough of, is Italia Villota. Tali is an energetic DJ seeking opportunities to do what she loves. She and I have grown closer as friends over the months, and I thank Jacks, her boyfriend, for being both understanding and trusting about that.

In early December 2007 Tali came to me excited with some news. She said she was SL pregnant! She said it in such a way that I knew she was very excited, but also tentative. Her friends began giving her a hard time about it. Tali has never been a mother in RL, although she has dedicated her profession to children.

Just like everyone else in SL, I have been in groups where SL fetuses announce to the world that they are pressing on their mommy's bladder, or want apple juice, and I found it as annoying as the next guy or gal. My reaction to Italia's news was exactly what she didn't need. It was not the reaction of a friend who understands her excitement, rather one who prepared to be annoyed by chat messages from her belly. Tali was understandably upset with me. She had already become very sensitive as one after another she received the same reaction from her "friends". She stopped communicating with me. I mean she stopped really communicating. Although she would speak with me she stopped sharing her thoughts like we had come to do.

I knew I had some growing up to do.

Why, I asked myself, would a young lady want to be SL pregnant? What is it about the experience that is so important to them that they'd risk snide comments from friends and strangers? The moment I asked myself the question the answer was obvious. By nature's way a woman's entire body is dedicated to the creation and nurturing of children, of course their mental mechanisms and instincts would be also. This is an aside from individual choice and circumstance, of course.

SL is a place to try what you haven't ever experienced in RL. I immediately made my apologies to Tali and let her know that I not only understood, but also deeply respect her decision. She accepted my apology, but it didn't go far in helping me make amends to myself for my immaturity that caused a friend discomfort.

Although I realize that as a man I can never quite fully comprehend the pregnancy experience (nor would I want the reality of it wreaking havoc on my body), I began talking with my friends who have young RL children about what it's like to make a life.

Harper Beresford gave me an outstanding explanation I listened to intently and thought about for hours. Alanna Vantelli created an experience on the posing stand as we talked about the instincts and feelings she has for her son, and what it was like for her to be pregnant with him. How the work connected to its self took shape. My main goal was to try to capture the glow that women have when they are building a life. As Alanna stood there she mentioned that her mother knew she was pregnant before she did by the glow in her eyes. To me, the glow is pearlesque, which shines from within and only appears through the surface.

While I built the piece, I tried to describe both men and women, the emergence of matriarchy from novice motherhood as love matures into pride, the constant evolution and hand-over of generations, the glow of the woman whose entire being is made to create what she is creating.

The necklace was modeled to exactly match the dip of the collar in front of the neck where the heat from the body uplights the face from the hearts within. Over the shoulders, looking back on generations, are individuals become anticipating couples. I draped the necklace to highlight the shoulders there, which take on a new softness of their own during pregnancy. In the back the necklace ends with two more glorious pregnant bodies lying down across the back of the shoulders at such an angle as to bring attention to the curves of the back. In this way, hoping to explain that a woman's entire body - front, back, top, bottom, mind and soul, are designed themselves for the task of creating life for us all. And they glow naturally, even when there's a tiny elbow pressing on their bladder.

There is no ring or bracelet. She would only have to take them off because of the swelling.

Tali, I understand and not only respect your decision and your new experience, but I also hope your SL pregnancy has given you the experience you are looking for. Thank you for clearing my mind up on the topic of SL pregnancy. I think now I understand better.

Tali's and Jacks' baby is due tomorrow :)