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Gratitude Guest Blogger: Treacle Darlandes

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A TRUE STORY

I was new, not good with computers, and bored. I was wearing a short skirt and blingy chest rings, blinging far and wide through my freebie leather jacket. It seemed that was the thing to do. Second Life appeared to be lacking in depth and communication and I saw males running around wearing unmentionable attachments. (I had clearly been to the wrong places).

“There must be some sensible people here somewhere” I thought. “Maybe there are some nice people at a yachting club”. I searched and found Nantucket Yacht Club and teleported onto a jetty.

There was a man.

No silly attachments, no fancy skin, no chat up lines. And very oddly… no talking at all!

I said hello, but he did not answer.

Now, when you are new in Second Life, you don’t understand about chat lag, AFK, invisible avatar… so I believed this person was truly ignoring me.

I said “hello” again. No answer.

Off I walked and viewed the boats. Up one jetty, down the next. Then I arrived back where the man was. I said hello again.

Still no reply.

Determined, I asked “Do you have a yacht here?”

Sigh.

I walked away pretty much in disgust really at being ignored several times. Then… as I was leaving… I saw very faintly on my screen…

"...Yes."

Maybe he does not speak English, I thought.

Then the next word from him…

"...Sail?"

This was odd, but clearly this man was asking if I wanted to sail in his boat! I accepted and followed the man as he walked along the jettys to his yacht.

The sailing was just amazing! (Although in silence!)

I had not experienced anything like it! I asked him if I could take photographs. He said yes.

The sea, the land, the turns, the commands, a skipper on a small yacht, sailing it just for me. After a long time out to sea, we returned to the jetty.

The man stood up and walked away — without a word — to the clubhouse.

Well, as I like to talk, I really couldn’t accept this. I followed and walked to him and asked “What language do you speak?”

No reply.

It was puzzling.

There were others in the clubhouse. Ravishal Bentham sent me an IM.

“Have you read his profile?”

I was new, why would I think doing of that?

So I did.

That was the moment that changed my Second Life.


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The man's name was Djduerer Zou.

He described himself in his profile:

Friendly, kind, tall, bedridden, sailor.

Can barely type.

Difficulty seeing, too.

It gets worse in the afternoon SLT time.

Slow.

I use gestures to speak.

In my life I am terminally ill (soon dead) with progressive brain disease,  OPCA  also known  as MSA.  

No regrets, lived passionately.

SL is my life.


I couldn’t imagine to have ever read such a thing or met such a person in SL.

The reality of the situation made my mind whirl. I had been sailing with a man who was living the last days of his Real Life here, in Second Life, living the Real Life that he had known. As a sailor.

My computer was a blur. There was something different here.

Djduerer managed to type:

“dance”

“I think he is asking you to dance,” wrote Ravishal in an IM.

After the short dance, I walked outside and stood my avatar looking out to sea.

Thinking.

I logged off Second Life with a hollow feeling inside but at the same time — a spark — a feeling that there was real life here in these avatars.

After this day I returned twice to see Djduerer, and both times he took me sailing. I dropped the bling chest rings and lengthened my skirt!

I talked to him, not expecting a reply.

I remember once as we were sailing saying to him,

“You must have had a wonderful Real Life at sea."

His answer made me happy and sad at the same time…

”Yes!!!!!!!!!” he said.


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Then, a couple of weeks later, I heard that Djduerer had passed away.

Four years — or more — later, when I am helping new people, this experience is never far from my mind.

At no time has anything in Second Life ever taught me so much as the day I met Djduerer Zou and discovered who was really behind the avatar.

I have used my experience of meeting Djduerer to explain to others about Second Life and to help them to have an open mind.

I doubt my presence here meant much to Djduerer. If I kept him company for a few sailings, that makes me happy, but Djduerer’s presence in Second Life meant so much to me.

He taught me the most important lesson I have learned here, and I am grateful for that moment we met — it showed me what online living can really mean.

- Treacle Darlandes

Published with the kind permission of the real-life widow of Djduerer Zou.

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Thank you very much Treacle for sharing this touching story. Many of my friends I met in SL have quite some burden to carry in RL, and I have my own burden and my reasons to be here, too. I also tried to find out if this is a game or not during my first weeks, and pretty soon I learned that everything is real life, only the physical plane is missing. I'm pretty sure it meant a lot to him too, to meet you there in his last days and take you out to sail and dance.

Be blessed

Lailantie

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Second Life is so much more than a game, or a business, or a program.

For so many people - it is a living connection to the whole world.

A way to travel and meet people from all over the world, to places no airline could ever take you.

A way to connect with others and enjoy so much more than can be found in the physical world.

Thank you Treacle Darlandes for sharing your special times spent with Djduerer Zou, and thank you to his family for helping him enjoy his time in second life.  May Christmas Blessings follow from our world to the Spirit of Djduerer.

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Treacle,

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with all of us Second Lifers:))  Djduerer was a gift to us all this holiday season...making us appreciate a little more of what we so take for granted...health and life.  Shows us what precious really is by the moving experience he had with you.  You can be sure you touched his life in a very profound way....as you also have touched us all.

Many Blessings

Eden Nootan

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Thank you Treacle for a truly moving story...makes you think! Being blessed in my own life despite finding it difficult to come out of a bereavement of quite a few years, I must admit I tend to think others are similarly blessed. I`m wrong! Having said that, without SL I doubt I would have coped as well as I have done or am doing

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Thank you Treacle for sharing such a profound, moving story. Sometimes people forget that behind SL avatars there are real people with real feelings, emotions and unique real life stories. We are all here for different reasons but this story helps us remember to treat each other a little kinder, a little more patient and a little more respectful. SL helps all of us reach out to others and sometimes even live lives we normally can't in RL.

Many Blessings,

Vianca  

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/me cries. Very touching story. And a bit "In Your Face" to those who don't see beyond the shallow impression easily gleaned from a quick visit to Second Life or from not bothering to explore outside Welcome Areas and Infohubs. Thank you so much for sharing.

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Thank you all for reading the short story and your lovely replies. It is actually amazing how many who use Second Life have things in real life which make their days perhaps much less enjoyable than other peoples, and Second Life can be a lovely way to find friends, interests and company. My hope is that we all think a little more about who we could be communicating with in any online form. There are some amazing people in the world, just ordinary like us, but who would value our warmth and patience every day, just as we would value it from others too.

Remember all drama seekers, mind gamers, arguers, griefers, trolls....you are not big and you are not clever.

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Wow.... I have goosebumps. Seriously Treacle, I respected you before but this gives me a whole new level of gratitude for having you as a friend! Thanks for sharing.

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