The limits of sweetness

In the last year or so, I’ve occasionally allowed my inner curmudgeon a little more freedom to express herself. It’s subtle, and if you aren’t paying attention you might miss the mildly acerbic remark, the subtle sarcasm, the “we are not amused” raised eyebrow.

Normally I am very mellow, so when this happens it sometimes takes people by surprise. I have a reputation for being kind and nice. And most of the time I am. That’s what makes my curdmudgeon so effective.  Watch out for Camryn, Walter chuckles. It’s always the quiet ones.

A few years ago I was invited to a friend’s birthday party on a private sim. The birthday boy was a very popular persona, and the sim was filled to capacity with at least 40 of his closest friends. Hijinks were encouraged. He loves flamethrowers! said his partner. So I secretly planned to display a huge explosion generated by the Omicron from Omega Concern. I’d tried it on my own sim, and it produced awesome fireworks. I imagined everyone smiling with delight, saying “oo” and “ah” as the flashes and particle flames lit up the night sky.

I quietly bided my time until everyone was gathered, dancing and laughing and celebrating. Then I walked into the midst of the crowd, unnoticed (I am almost always unnoticed). Smiling to myself, I pressed the button: apocalypse.

What I didn’t realize was that they had damage enabled on the sim.

The explosion lit up the night sky, alright. A blinding nuclear blast enveloped the island. All 40 of us, including the birthday boy, were killed instantly, and teleported home.

To say I was embarrassed would be an understatement. I was mortified. I apologized over and over and over again to the hostess and to the birthday boy. It was hard to get a word in edgewise, though, because they were laughing so hard.

Needless to say, after that incident, I had something of a… reputation. I had been the sweet one, but now I was the  assassin who blew up one of the most popular people in SL and 40 of his closest friends. Watch out… it’s always the quiet ones.

Besides providing many giggles over the years, that incident is a great metaphor for what happens when I ignore my anger and resentment. I can try to deny that I have any; I can resolutely maintain my serene demeanor at all costs. But that takes a lot of energy. Energy that drains me. Eventually my shields fall. Boom! Apocalypse.

It’s probably wiser to let my anger leak out gradually, when it is still only a spark, before it reaches nuclear proportions. I’ll continue to let my inner curmudgeon out of her cage from time to time. I promise not to blow anyone up.

Two Three Six Five

Here’s my submission for Two Three Six Five!

Camryn Darkstone and Walter Balazic

As a drizzling November rain brings a hush over my quiet First Life, my day begins as usual, with silent meditation. Then, as every day, I go to meet my love on Second Life.

I work from home, where I live alone. My social life centers on an intimate group of dear friends. We have known each other forever. We share the same passions, activities, and opinions. We smile together about a favorite quote: “I don’t know if I need a lover. I think I would settle for five good friends.”

Most of us look for such good friends, with whom we share much in common. We like to bond with “people like us.” Social media tools make it even easier to filter our friendships, associating only with those who reflect the views and tastes we already have.

Seeking relationships, we make lists of desirable attributes ranging from the superficial, such as appearance, to the provocative, such as politics or religion. We look for personality or character traits, or mutual interests and ambitions. We envision what we want, and we find a partner who fits into our predefined vision.

But this can be very limiting. Envisioning a certain outcome can blind us to glorious surprises. We may miss out on wonderful gifts because we were expecting something else. Focusing on our goals, potentially beautiful friendships with lovely people slip past us, unnoticed.

At first, I didn’t think I needed a lover in Second Life. It caught me totally by surprise. Walter was a surprise. Outwardly, in RL, he is very different from me. Had I stuck to my preconceived notion of what I was looking for, I might easily have missed the gift of knowing, loving and being loved by this beautiful soul. No one could have foreseen his impact on my life. No one could have predicted who I’d turn out to be: that I, the rebellious, independent loner, would willingly and happily surrender my freedom, opening my heart to the surprise and delight of unexpected pleasure.

So I advise that you let go of expectations. Have goals, but don’t be enslaved to them. Something better might happen. Don’t assume you know what the best outcome is. Be open to the possibility that you will be surprised by someone completely different from what you expected. Leave a crack in your armor, so that grace can leak in.