Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Wheat Fields to Other Worlds

Sometimes the world gets too crazy. Technology advances at an accelerating pace. Some days it all gets too much. We all need a calm place to avoid the hustle of modern life. If one lives in the city, all the more important to find that place where the automobile horns no longer blow, sirens are not heard, and no screams pierce the night air. One can visit The Far Away and take some time in quiet reflection. This is an America that is long gone, an America that, really, never was. One can sit an listen to the wireless provide the news, or the play-by-play of a Cubs game, or the latest Benny Goodman hit. Following the clues leads only to more questions...and to more places.

In a world that is not always beautiful, it is worth returning to beautiful places. Similarly, in a world full of sound and intrusions onto one’s thoughts, it is a pleasure to return to places that provide solitude and time for quiet contemplation.

One such place is The Far Away, which evokes a rural America that time has passed by – or, more likely, that never existed, except in our collective imagination. I stand in the wheat fields, wondering how that train got there, and think about choices that I’ve made, and choices that a nation makes.

Despite the renown of the sim, I rarely see other people there. True story: the last time I visited, I met a young man, new to the grid, whose typist, I inferred, was Dutch. I greeted him politely. He asked what there was to do in the sim. I replied something about contemplation, and admiring the textures, and so on. He then asked where I was from, which seems to be the new-to-the-grid equivalent of “So, what do you do?” in Washington or “Hey, what’s your sign?” in 1970s bars. I replied that I resided in the nation of Caledon, while my typist was located on the East Coast of the U.S. (Of course, this was his real question.) Seconds after he received that answer, he promptly TP’d out, without saying another word. Oh well, one can’t please everyone. Maybe he was still sore about the British taking Neiuw Amsterdam from the Dutch. (I had nothing to do with that, however. I may be old, but I’m not that old.)

One of the other pleasures of the grid is that one often finds connections, and can travel from sim to sim in a decidedly non-linear fashion based on…well, based on whatever criteria one likes. Mr. A. M. Radio provided a link to a second sim of his, so I chose to follow that path…to a cabin in a lake. Another place for quiet contemplation. And yet another link…

...which leads me to yet another location...

…to contemplate the stars, and our place among them. Are we all connected? Or are we all alone?

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