7 ~ No Country for Newbies
It wasn’t always like this. Especially, where you could turn your head to the south and see the bright spot of a another world just over the horizon all the time. You can’t miss it, floating on the cloud there, like the cloud is the planet’s own personal magic carpet. That bright spot, that star or something dwarfs it bit by bit every day. It’s starting to dwarf our sun. It wasn’t always that way…it’s getting bigger; the sun and the cloud smaller. Maybe it’s getting somehow more insistant. And red. Fuzzy glowy hot red, like it’s searing a huge hole in the sky. I watch it alot, that part of the sky. If you ask me, it’s trying to devour all of us and everything in this world. Someone should keep an eye on something that tries to do that. See the buildings around it? Just at the edge of the horizon? If you zoom out, high and tight into them and study them, you’ll see what I mean. Brace yourself; it’s startling. The buildings…see? Look closely. Their front facades from rooftop to walkway just sheer off and fall in a straight avalanche, imploding into the ground. Some of them are a few kilometers tall. Well, they were anyway. Now they’re buried in mushroom clouds. Even the mushroom clouds are tiny compared to that planet or star or hole or something in the sky. I don’t quite know what to say about that. I feel an awful lot about it, for sure…I just don’t quite know what to say about what has to be deliberate destruction. Could it be anything else? …other than to say that’s one helluva insistent world on the other side of our sky, burning one hot helluva hole in our world here. Enough to melt down everything created around us. Takes a lot of heat to achieve something like that on a scale like this. Such a shame. Such a distressed horizon over there. Covered with murky clouds that don’t seem to know their own nature any more once they get sucked up into that bright spot. You know, I can’t really see the color of that world there. It’s red and it’s not. The sky is a big hot mess of debris from it all. All I know is the color can’t be anything as cooling as a blue. And I don’t think the planet is Mars…come to think of it, maybe it is Red Mars, but who knows, maybe it is both of those things, blue and mars or maybe it will turn out to be a world with a name we haven’t yet heard. I’ve heard of a place that already exists like that — with blue and mars out there on the other side of the sky — but I’ve never been there. I can’t say that I feel the urge to go there on any kind of regular basis either for some reason. I’ve heard talk of a whole bunch of worlds out there now. They could very well be a whole universe of worlds sitting out there for all that I know. Those things just don’t matter too much to me. It’s nice to know what’s happening, how things are changing or expanding or just becoming different maybe is all that it really is…but I already have my universe. I already have all of what’s important to me. Home is in the heart, you know? That’s a saying, sure, but it’s so true. And for me, that’s all of what really mattesr. These other worlds? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was curious to hear the stories about them. I think my curiosity is kind of like the Star Trek thing…you know: “space…the final frontier.” That frontier spirit is natural if you ask me. We’re a people interested in possibilities — no matter what hte world — so to be curious about the horizon is normal if you ask me. And yet…even with all the curiosity in the world, I just haven’t felt a compelling urge to rush over onto the other side of the sky, is all that I’m saying, despite all the talk from the people who have moved over there permanently. I know they love it. They make sure to say that. And I don’t doubt how they feel. I suppose if so many of them didn’t have so much torn feelings about this world, I might hear them better. Not that what seems like anger from some of them isn’t justified in their minds — I’m not casting judgement about their perspectives or their experiences. I just don’t know what they feel so torn about even when they shout it. Sometimes it just sounds like all the upset is all about something more, or something else entirely, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what. The point is, it’s not for me to guess at. The only thing I can say about it is that it’s not that I haven’t ever personally given another world a chance. I did. I traveled to one — probably that very same big red bright spot tearing up the other side of the sky over there, come to think of it. Wouldn’t that just be too funny. That’d be ironic as hell — or just weird — if the spot that keeps trying to burn a hole into this sky, the same spot that I can’t help but allow to penetrate my mind turns out to be the world that I visited a couple of times on the other side of the sky in this world. Only thing is, I don’t know for sure if that’s the case. All that I can say for sure is that wherever I visited was a nice place when I found myself there. The truth is, it was so similar to this world that it really didn’t stick in my memory as something wild or unusual. In fact, it reminded me alot of this world in just about all respects. It felt to me kind of like seeing McDonald’s in every country, you know? Kinda like an experience that amounted to a commodity, but not anything exclusive or distinctive, huh. Maybe that’s harsh, I don’t know, but there was an underlying current of that there. There’s something peculiar about sensing that. I feel that there really is something odd about that. But I still went there evenso and entered through the “golden arches”…only there weren’t any literal “golden arches.” That was just a failed attempt at biting humor on my part. Not sure what compelled me to go there. There’s just something significant about the McDonald-izing of the worlds: drive through happy meals made of mystery meat serving billions and billions and billions of people all over the worlds, I don’t know. “Just supersize my fries, throw them in a bushel that I’ll harvest on my little flat farm while I foursquare myself to the next franchise, would you?” Something unnerving about that. Anyway. I didn’t think about the other world in a McDonald’s kind of way when I went there. In hindsight, I have to say I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t know how I would have viewed any of that experience if I had thought about it like it was a commodity. I’m grateful so very grateful I was in more of a beginner’s mind when I went. I try to stay in that place, a beginner’s mind. There’s always possibilities in a beginner’s mind, and that’s always a nice experience. I didn’t anticipate much of anything when I visited that other world and that held true even when I returned again. I think I visited that world maybe only once or twice. Not often at all. But both times, I didn’t envision anything wildly different before I arrived. When I finally did arrive, I found that I was pretty much right about it all seeming familiar. Before logging in, I set up a name for myself…you know, I claimed *my* name from here. Heh. Funny…all this talk about identity and the thing that everyone rushes to stake out above all else is their name. Well, I did exactly the same thing. Makes perfect sense, really. Someone once said to me, a colleague at work many years ago…she said “our name is really the only thing we own.” She wasn’t talking about anything like a legal form of ownership. She meant our reputation, our values, our character…all of that bundled up and assigned to us by our names. Like our names are an executive summary of all of who we are. Our appearances can broadcast themselves any which way we want them to — and quite literally we can change every aspect of our looks in these worlds — but some things are universal. Like actions speaking louder than appearance or words. And without fail, probably without any level of conscious thought, we all watch that — actions, I mean — don’t we. We assign all our observations to actions. We all do it. We judge them, we categorize them, we identify them, and we anchor them to a person through their name. The tricky part of it though is that someone can try to make you own something about yourself that isn’t you…just because of the way they decide to perceive you…and then slap that onto your name even if it’s not really you. But some people are like that, forcing their view of the worlds everywhere. I think my friend, the colleague at work who said all of that, was right. It doesn’t matter that she said it many years ago. And it doesn’t matter that she said it in a completely different world, from that First Place world. The thing is…it’s true in Second Place and All the Spaces We Go. So yeah, I made sure to claim my name in that other world that I visited, the one that feels and looks alot like this world in many aspects. Except I have to say…I didn’t see any fronts of buildings sheering off and imploding on the ground, that’s for sure. At least not yet. After all, it wasn’t always that way here either. Heh. But anyway…I took my time while I was there. After I claimed my name free and clear, I checked things out. Somehow I didn’t travel much further than the welcome center, though. That’s how it was for me here too in the beginning. Made me feel like how I started out here when everything was a mystery. Except in this other place there wasn’t some packed community center or welcome center with huge marshmellow characters wearing giant penises, or naked people dressed like Indians wearing mohawks who stood around activating a looping laughing gesture, or merfolk swimming through nothing but the air around people’s heads, or spaceships that flew through the middle of the crowd, all low and slow. The shapeship always seemed to get everyone’s attention for some reason. Even more than the giant penises. Complete strangers would jump up onto the sides of the space ship and sit on the edges as it sliced its way silently in a low glide through the center of the welcome area. Maybe we all thought we were going some place. Maybe we all thought we’d find a completely different world within a world. I don’t know. Or maybe it just seemed like a fun thing to do. Anyway, this new world, the one on the other side of the sky? Their welcome center was reminiscent of that…just without the big crowds and without the wildly unexpected. No giant penises, no laughing mohawk naked people, no merfolk flipping their tails, no space ships. Not sure if they have a world within their world there. Everyone looked usual, nothing extraordinary. Hardly any chaos anywhere…really it was all pretty orderly, but it was still fun waddling around, although the shock of waddling wasn’t as strong this time since I’m an experienced waddler now, you might say. Made me smile, though, still believe it or not. And cringe too, all at once. So there I was. My first day in a strange new (kind of) world and I felt transported back in time to my first day in this world. When I marveled in the discovery of a changed perspective all the way down to my toes. I stood there, like I had the first time I was born into these kinds of worlds, deciding on the most urgent things to get: a new walk, a new skin, and maybe third on that list, new hair. I can’t say what it is about those three things that just go so against the grain if they aren’t right. And yet somehow this time around, the not-just-rightness of them all were endearing. I didn’t mind so much if people in fancy skins and walks and hairs who had obviously been there for some time saw me all new and awkward. In fact, I probably waddled longer than I needed to just because it was fun to do. To feel myself step into my legs again in an unmanufactured way. I almost began to think I had found a country for newbies. Almost began to think that…but really not so much. Everything was very well staged there. I found my new walk, my new skin and some new hair much faster in this other world than I did in the one I was born into here. I looked around for the unusual and bizarre, for any strange creatures or non-human cultures. Maybe it was bad timing, but I didn’t find any. If the owners of that new planet asked me for feedback, I’d tell them they should try to build in some confusion into this new world. There’s something charming, something that just sings ‘possibilities’ when everything isn’t so perfectly laid out and clearly defined. Besides, it just seems to me that the unknowing feels more true to the act of creation. At some level, a world without a manuscript feels more true to itself. More true to imagination, more true to life, two things you really can’t control. It always feels a little forced when imagination and living are overly plotted out…but I know the known brings alot of comfort and comfort isn’t a bad thing. Even to me. Maybe all of this is my own personal view. Maybe that’s somehow a value statement that ties itself around my name and owns me, instead of the other way around: me owning my name. I don’t know. Maybe when it comes down to it, we don’t really own anything at all…even our names. Maybe that planet over there busying itself with tearing at this world and every world around it is just trying to demonstrate something like that: that even at the height of control the universe doesn’t own anything in it. Could be, I don’t really know. I gaze at that gaping hole in the sky with that red bright spot surging bigger every day, tearing down everything around it, threatening to eat all of this world including the sun and all of us. Can you blame me for thinking it’s a world of intense energy? Is that what you might think of as “putting it mildly?” Yeah, I’d have to agree with you on that. The truth is I don’t know if that world has a good energy or a bad energy. I don’t really know what kind of value to place around its name or to tie to its identity. I can’t really tell any more. I used to think it was good…that it called out in a healthy, exploratory way for everyone to migrate over to it, to visit or not. But that hole in the sky, it brings alot more than vacuum sunction. Feel the wind? I know you can. But listen…listen closely to that wind. Listen beyond the pain that you feel from the heat of the thing. Hear it? Through that gaping hole? All those meters away, right at the edge of the horizon that’s being torn open? It’s not only searin heat pushing itself through. It’s what sounds like an endless stream of words, words that are just as destructive sometimes, sometimes more than the heat. Listen and you’ll hear what I mean. Feel your ears singe not from the air but from the sounds that are meant for nothing more than to strike out at this world. I could be wrong…if the sounds are meant for something more — and maybe they are — that meaning falls away, sheered off from the blistering heat around them. The funny thing…we have a kinship with the source of those sounds. Most of those words come from people who used to live in this world. They don’t any longer for whatever reason. I think they try to say the reason…but I think that’s the part that sheers itself away because something changed for them. It’s not so unusual. But maybe it’s different for everyone…the things that change for them. For me, it was learning to walk in a perfectly ordered world and not challenging myself to stay in an uncomfortable place to create. For them, those who were here and now have fled, well, I don’t know. But I do know that for whatever reason they still focus on this world even when they aren’t in it any more. I can understand that in a way. I can see the allure. We’re in the First Place of Second Place afterall. At least for most of us, we are, or at least most of us view it that way. At least for me and for all of those in my family it definitely is. I come from a long line of dreamers. I can’t say I ever really liked the word “dreamer” myself. Somehow that word got twisted around somehow, and changed from something inventive into something…I don’t know. Common or something. Less than. These days, people make it seem like anything creative is some kind of waste of time, some kind of nonsense fabrication and nothing more. All watered down and worthless. Or worse, like it’s an addiction. Like the way society is set up in First Place isn’t an addiction. Heh. Like dreaming and creating aren’t classified as “real” but instead treated as if they shouldn’t matter. I’d like to ask those people — some of them have been here, some haven’t — but it doesn’t matter where they’ve been or are. But what I’d like to ask them is: do they think “reality” is all that “real” in the first place? Please, have they seen the “reality” of First Place, lately? Bad Girls Club, hello? As if that kind of drama happens in everybody’s everyday life. I suppose First Place has more than its fair share of bad life moments, bad behavior moments, but table tossing and body slams and hurling other people’s property out into the street aren’t things that happen on a regular basis for most people. Sheering off everyone’s sense of self isn’t the essence of “reality” is it? Not unless they live in the city, I suppose. And even then, I don’t know that it’s all that proportional. But if we’re supposed to accept that the garbage on “reality” shows is real, I must not know what ‘real’ is anymore. Constant exposure to the worst inside of us, amplified for sale and rewarded by the marketers and all the “practical” people in the world who vote for it with their time, energy and dollars does something to a person. Does something to an entire society. Hands it completely over to the sellers who demand that we accept whatever they decide is “real.” They’re clever that bunch. They do that — sell the worst possible most manufactured fake as “real” — all while saying “spin sucks” out of the side of their mouths. When I stop to think about it, you know I realize they’re just trying to win us over by claiming “spin sucks.” That’s what we want to hear afterall, isn’t it? What’s the “real” in the real…that’s what we think we’re getting at or going to or something isn’t it? Well, they get that, the marketers and could care less whether or not they deliver it. They shout “spin sucks” and turn on their heels to vomit a boatload of made up nonsense at the world and call it fact. Their idea of reality sells, for sure. I couldn’t say why. Seems cheap and sensationalized if you ask me. And obscenely over the top plotted out: “set up the cameras at just the right angle, and at just the right moment with just the right lighting to capture that table toss!”. You think they rehearsed those “spontaneous” dramatics? Oh hell, yes. Probably more times than we can count. But dreams, well, they aren’t rehearsed. Dreams, there’s something to them that can’t be contained and mass-manufactured or sold like smack straight off of an assembly line. Like all those so-called reality shows. I come from a long line of dreamers, so it’s a personal thing, you see. And I mean the word in its original sense, the creative sense. My long line, well, it’s in my DNA. My mother and my father, they were people who could see things that weren’t there and then make those things tangible. Siblings too. I’m not the only one who has that knack. Like I said, it’s in my DNA, and there’s nothing empty or fake about that, I’ll tell you. Some might say there is. Or some might say it all amounts to some kind of magic. I’m not one of those who would say either of those things. I suppose it’s good to have people who make judgements. I suppose it’s a helluvalot better than indifference. But when it comes to saying whether it’s all fake or whether it’s all magic, well, I couldn’t really tell you where it comes from and wouldn’t really want to try to. The only thing I could tell you with certainty is that being a dreamer is real. And so am I. Funny I’m spending so much time talking about First Place, when what concerns me most is Second Place and that hole tearing at the sky. Can’t help but wonder if it’s First Place tearing its way through somehow. Maybe not from that specific planet on the horizon. But in a metaphorical sense. I admit it felt unreal in the beginning. When I saw myself duck waddle. When I couldn’t even figure out how to turn a corner without walking into a wall. Somehow I spent most of my time at the bottom of the ocean when I first came here. All this creativity in me, at least I thought there was and somehow I know there still is, but yet I couldn’t figure out how to make it work at first. I didn’t have a roadmap. I just heard about this world and well, the idea of it seemed to speak directly to the creative part of me. I’m the only one in a long line of dreamers to wake up in this world. And when I woke up in this world, it was vastly unchartered territory then. The Wild West of the intertubes. I was so very naive to it all, I didn’t even know what the word “intertubes” meant. There were a few people here before I got here. A few people who must have even more creativity in them than I do, I figure. Somehow they heard about this place before I even knew to ask what it was. And now some of that energy has mobilized onto the other side of our sky. It wasn’t always like this…with the sides of buildings sheering off and crashing into the ground, with pieces of prims clattering and clanking down from the clouds. It wasn’t alway like this, when the worm turned and imagination started devouring itself.
But come what may, I have all that I need, all that I ever want. This is my home. And if this world is devoured it still lives on because for me, the truth is…home really is where the heart is.
Nanowrimo10 total word count: 4,045. Total wordcount to date: 16,215 of 50,000 (not including this notation)