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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Waltzing to The Colorful Quiet: A Tale of a Harmonious Experience






            Sometimes in life, whether virtual or real, things come together, that is, life harmonizes as multiple entities converge to create an experience that one might call, transcendent, divine, even magical. The feeling this sense of perfect unity creates can be felt, but many times cannot be put into words. We try, but words are inadequate in expressing these feelings. But I’m going to try to tell you about just such an experience that happened to me in Second Life about a week ago when I went to Cape Halcyon to listen to a live music performance. Cape Halcyon is an outdoor music venue. It is described as “a new live music venue, that opened in January 2020, featuring only the best artists in SL.” It was very nicely landscaped. There was a small, square stage with a wood plank floor. Light bulbs were strung up around the stage. It was close to a calm river, with a sandy shoreline. A green grassy open area for dancing dominated the space. A tree-lined border with rustic buildings was here and there. A Black Lives Matter sign was atop a roof. A small herd of wandering sheep was off to the side doing whatever wandering sheep do. In all, it’s an idyllic setting for a picnic, or just relaxing on a blanket. So, this place was the first aspect of my harmonious experience that was about to occur.

The musical performance was the second aspect of my harmonious experience, and it was another one of those serendipitous occurrences I spoke of in a previous article. I accidentally caught The Colorful Quiet after another performer finished. I hadn’t gone there to see him perform, but a friend told me that this was his first performance since returning after a fairly long hiatus from Second Life, like four or five years away, I think she said.  So, I had to stay and listen. And I’m happy I did because he sounded wonderful. Indeed, this guy was really good! Great guitar playing. Picking notes and strumming chords. He sung Loser by Beck, Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground, Disarm by the Smashing Pumpkins, Basket Case by Green Day, Polly by Nirvana, Norwegian Wood by the Beatles, Man in the Moon by REM, and several others. His voice matches his name, colorfully quiet, in fact almost a whisper with quavering vibrato. A sense of mystery came to mind. My partner, who is well-versed in music, especially guitar playing said this:

misty Metaluna: a lot of acoustic guitar players play a set pattern of chord sequences and sound repetitive. He doesn’t do that. Yeah, he has skills.

Fynn : you are so knowledgeable!

misty Metaluna:  . . . like say Nickleback they are good but you hear the same chord phrasing in a lot of their stuff.

misty Metaluna: lol, I’ve been around music my whole life.

Fynn (fynnyus): You just schooled me on guitar playing J

            And so we come to the third element of my harmonious experience: Misty. She and I became partners not too long ago. With her, there was a connection almost immediately. Have you ever had that happen? It’s a sense of, “I want to know this person more.” Then, as you get to know them more, that wanting feeling turns to a feeling of need for them. The need turns to a desire. You miss them when they are not there. You start to fall in love. But she is smart and resisted at first, having been burned by love before. Heck, we have all been burned by love in Second Life, haven’t we? I mean, if you have spent much time at all in Second Life, you have experienced a broken heart. But damn, if love is not a powerful thing! And if love is there, it is a very hard thing to resist. And love was there. And neither of us could resist. The funny thing is that she and I are so different in many ways, yet those differences have made us more compatible than one could ever imagine. It’s as if our differences actually cement us together because we can talk about them, accept them for what they are, and get past them. Anyway, I digress. I could go on and on about Misty, but let’s just say that she is the catalyst to many special moments, the current one under consideration being one of them.

          

  And we come to the fourth and final element of this perfect experience: dance. Now, dance in and of itself is or can be, a transcendent thing. It is an ancient art form. Some would call it a form of communication. Indeed, dance has emerged as one of the more ubiquitous forms in Second Life. But why dance? Why has it become such an important part of our virtual existence? Perhaps dance is a way we express ourselves when words are insufficient. When we watch our avatars dance, we feel a sense of joy. Dancing is a way to express love. Perhaps we dance to show that we can overcome great sorrow or adversity, perhaps dancing reminds us of our youth and its passions, or it reminds us of the peacefulness of our softer and more graceful years.  A waltz, a foxtrot, or a rumba might be the best or only way to express ourselves more fully. We all want to be understood, and if we could truly speak the words that describe our feelings, how deep and powerful they would be. But alas, those words sometimes don’t seem right. So, maybe dance is simply how we translate what our heart is trying to say.

Waltzing in this place, to this performer’s song, with my partner, was special. Indeed, the waltz itself is significant as a ballroom dance style. It is a dance born in the suburbs of Vienna and in the alpine region of Austria. As early as the seventeenth century, waltzes were played in the ballrooms of royalty. Despite its social acceptance, the waltz was also criticized on moral grounds by those opposed to its close hold and rapid turning movements. Religious leaders almost unanimously regarded it as vulgar and sinful. In 1816 the Times of London condemned the dance in an editorial that said,

“We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last ... it is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females.

So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

Fortunately, the waltz survived the various oppositional forces that attacked it throughout its history. Today it is one of the most popular forms of dance—even in the virtual setting of Second Life.

And so, these four elements, person, place, music, and dance coalesced into a singular unforgettable moment. There was a confluence of the music and the motion as we connected in this virtual setting. These primordial forms of communication transcended time and space. Indeed, they showed themselves to be quite important elements in this emergent medium of digital time and space called Second Life. Misty and I are one node of the whole of dancing, of dancing history, if you will. We were a singular point as we waltzed to the singing of The Colorful Quiet. It is moments like this that renew your faith in the feelings another can have with you a thousand miles away. It felt like a rebirth of faith in the unboundedness of love for another person, indeed for people in general. How differences can be reconciled with a touch, a kiss, a word, or even a visualization of two people dancing as their corporeal selves watch in wonderment at each other’s digitized beauty.

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