I am attracted to Second Life for many reasons. It wasn’t until I had to make several profiles for myself in a row that I realised my main interest was in self growth. Discovering things about myself that I wouldn’t get a chance to via other means.
Something that one of my favourite marketing gurus, Seth Godin, often says about discovery is that it’s useful to introduce limits for yourself when attempting to solve problems. This could be a graphic designer who forces himself to design something using only 2 colours, or a team leader who declares the project will be shipping in exactly 2 weeks regardless of whatever state of readiness it is in. Boundaries and structure force you to be inventive. You will try things you wouldn’t otherwise have to.
The imposed communication format in Second Life is ripe for discovery of this sort. When you purposefully remove people’s vocal and visual cues, it’s so intriguing as a newbie to observe how relationships might change and see what innovations are born.
Poetry often acts in this same way. By purposefully invoking a set structure, you often wind up with pared down delights of clarity and a few mind-splitting-open experiences.
One of my favourite poems is The Invitation. While the form of this particular poem is not sparse, the content touches upon some of these relational benefits that Second Life invites us to experience. By stripping away the inconsequential surface details we so often get hung up on, we can dive deeper into the more substantial, authentic and juiciest bits of life.
The breakthrough for me inside these so called limits, is that the end result feels more like an opportunity for communion rather than mere communication.
I hope you savour this poem as much as I do.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
– The Invitation copyright © 1999 by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.