Saturday, February 25, 2012

Contemplating New Virtual Areas of Interest

I've kicked the whole ALA and Second Life business around long enough. It made me look back over my two years of posting about SL. I like what I've posted. I even fixed the link for the API story in my "I feel so much better!" article. [And then it broke again ... note to self, don't link to API stories.] While I will continue to keep in touch with my virtual librarian friends, I am making other acquaintances in SL in another area that is of great interest, although I hesitate quite strongly to say on a professional basis.

Spiritual direction is something I've been involved with for going on seven years. I am affiliated with Christos Center for Spiritual Formation and have been a facilitator in the Chicago area Tending the Holy program that trains people to be spiritual directors. I am on the Minnesota-based organization's board of directors. (Yes, I attend via Skype and have referenced this experience obliquely in a previous post.) SD is an avocation for me. When I write about it here in Die/|\Hard, I will be discussing the professional aspects rather than the spiritual aspects.

About six months ago, I was inworld, fidgeting in my Linden Home with some newly acquired furniture, when out of boredom I ran a search on spiritual direction and came up with a number of serious-looking hits. A lot of meditation is going on in SL! One of the groups caught my eye as I looked over the Viriditas Center for Contemplative Prayer Website.  I visited their inworld site and was very pleasantly surprised when I attempted to meditate: it worked! I think because I am connected well with my avatar that I was able to relax and in a way be one with my avatar to achieve a stillness conducive to contemplative prayer.

After five years of exploring SL, it's still nice to be surprised.

Over the past few months, I've become acquainted with some of the regulars at the V Center and even attended one of the regular art gallery showings, listening to live musical performances. I even bought a painting! It took way too long for this foggy mind of mine to realize I had something to offer the center in its present winter mode: I could create a cross-country ski track. I've found X-C skiing to be meditative in first life and the only real drawback to doing it in SL is that the exercise is over in a minute or two, unless I created a very long looping trail.

"Automatic Cross Country System is a Scripted Automatic Poseball System that takes the avatars using it on a Programmed Cross Country Skiing path, which you create using an easy to use Waypoint Maker HUD." I'd done this for the snowy portion of ALA Island a couple of years ago. It's one of those very clever inventions that an SL resident developed that animates your avatar in the motions of swinging arms holding poles and legs wearing skis and guides them along a track via invisible waypoints. I can add code to speed up and slow down depending on whether the skier is going up or down a slope in the terrain. Putting it together required that I be given certain permissions to rez items on the sim and I honor the trust that went with that privilege.

Over the years, I have acquired a number of clever gadgets, some of which I never got to use at ALA Island. I have offered my copy of our labyrinth to V Center, although it may be too prim heavy for them to consider it. I also have a emPod, which may be an interesting meditation tool: a sphere in which the interior is paneled with video screens. We shall see. But it's good to be expanding my area of contacts beyond the library professionals.

BTW, the sim returned everything today in order to begin their Viriditas Spring. But the message I received was promising: "thank you so much for this idea. Next year we can start it right at the beginning of the season." Obviously, there is no issue that tier is too high to sway this nonprofit to leave SL.

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