I don’t know what is wrong with me today. I am back at my paying job after a two-week Christmas vacation, and believe me, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy over the next few weeks! Lots of requests from professors for student training on how to use my university’s library system efficiently and effectively. Lots of committees to sit on. Lots of stuff to do. I feel needed, and that feels good.
And I am starting off 2020 where I am actually getting paid to do what I love, which is write about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse (which reminds me, I need to email an invoice over to Sinespace today). My boss at work was tickled pink by my recent mention in Patty Marx’s New Yorker article about virtual reality. And to top it all off, I even got an award for my blogging from the Virtual Existence Society! I am certainly getting lots of external validation (and personal satisfaction) from what I do in my off-hours.
So I should be happy, right? Right?
So, why do I feel like something is missing?
And no, it’s not Sansar that is missing from my life. It’s truly a blessed relief to take a break from the bickering, politics and drama over there. I wish Linden Lab staff and all the Sansar users my very heartfelt wishes for the best to happen in 2020, and I vow that I will be back—someday. But not right now. I’m just so burned out on Sansar, and it’s going to take some time and space to heal before I come back. And it was a valuable lesson learned: not to let myself get so emotionally invested in any single platform in the first place. My infatuation, my honeymoon period, with Sansar is well and truly over.
Perhaps that’s what is missing from my life: a sense of optimism. The world suddenly seems to be a much more precarious place at the start of 2020, with an American president using Twitter to issue threats to bomb an enemy’s cultural sites (a war crime), and Australia ablaze due to continued inaction on climate change and global warming by global politicians. It all just seems so hopeless, so dire.
So, what do you do when what you’re missing is a sense of hope about the future, a sense of optimism? I already know that I suffer from clinical depression, a battle which I do not shy away from sharing here on this blog. But what if there’s actually good reason to feel depressed about society and the world?
I don’t have any easy answers, for myself or for anyone else. But I do think that taking the initiative to make small, practical improvements in your life can make a difference.
For example, this year I have made a pact with a coworker to go for regular cardiovascular exercise a few times a week: walking the length and width of the university’s extensive tunnel system connecting the various buildings on campus, during what can be a long, bitterly cold Canadian prairie winter. (We like to joke that there are still stoned-out students from the 1960s wandering around lost in the tunnels!)
And I can haul my raggedy ass back to Weight Watchers tomorrow, to reset myself on the path toward making healthier, more informed food choices.
Sometimes all it takes is small steps, opportunities to reassert some small portion of personal control over situations that feel hopeless in our lives, that make all the difference. It’s not a panacea, but it’s a start. Sometimes it takes a collection of a lot of little things, to tip the balance in our favour, and rediscover what’s missing in our lives.