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Sleeping with an Avatar
Falling in love was never on the agenda.
Wondering where I’ve been of late? The answer is working on the “Healthful Aging Through Lifelong Learning” conference. It was held both digitally (online via YouTube) and in the virtual world of Second Life. You can learn about it, see videos, and read the profiles I wrote about the speakers on the Ageless Mind Project Substack.
So why the title of this post? Because what I enjoyed the most about the conference was the poetry workshop I facilitated in the “Tree of Poetic License.” In addition to helping others create wonderful poems, I got to share one of my own as well.
The poem I shared, “Sleeping with an Avatar,” was written almost 15 years ago after a painful break-up with an avatar I’d developed feelings for in Second Life. The experience was life altering.
We tend to think of avatars as cartoons and forget that real people exist behind them. In my case, I was introduced by a mutual friend and was immediately struck by this avatar’s quirky sense of humor and love of nature, poetry, and music. I confess that his appearance didn’t mean much to me at first - meaning I didn’t feel physically attracted to him. Over time, as we got to know one another, and we spoke on the phone, that changed. But the confounding thing was how the energy between us sparked despite the thousands of miles separating us and the fact that we were unable to see one another’s “real” selves.
As a bodyworker, I am well acquainted with energy and the fact that it is not limited by time and space. That energy is as real as the physical body it fuels, but this attraction was shocking.
Not long after we confessed how we felt to one another, my avatar lover stopped communicating and started “seeing” someone else. It hurt as badly as the end of any first life relationship and left me wondering about how, where, and why people fall in love. This poem is the result.
Sleeping with an Avatar
Sooner or later
the Light bleeds through -
pixels porous and permeable
as newborn cells,
humming with passion,
dividing with purpose
with every keyboard stroke
into rendered truth.
In IMs and emails,
text chats and blog posts,
we ponder the inexplicable
dissect the inescapable
and conclude the unavoidable -
we exist beyond our blood and bones
breathe more than air into our lungs
require more than proteins, fats, and carbs
to sustain our souls. - Jena Ball
So tell me. Have you ever fallen in love with an avatar or someone online you’ve never met in person? How did it unfold? How long did it last? Did you ever get to meet them in-person?
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Copyright 2023 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.