Michael Nesmith 6th December 2014
22 mins ·
I used to be afraid of solitude, but I understand it better now. I grew up surrounded by family and friends and only a few years ago found myself living entirely alone.
At first loneliness was everpresent, like a wave, coming and going and bringing awful moments of despair and doubt, crying and self-pity. It was like a disease. It was abnormal and painful.
In a natural and easy way however I caught a few moments of quiet solitude, of being alone with my thoughts and being calm. I started to see the difference between loneliness and solitude.
I stopped trying to fight the loneliness, and replaced the feeling of loneliness with the higher idea of solitude, and I began to value more and more my moments of solitude and quiet. I started noticing other things beside my own condition, started turning more outward.
It was a nice change for me, having this solitude open me up to other people and other things. I discovered my kids and my family, my friends and their lives; I discovered more and more going on around me by this calm stillness of solitude.
In 1998 I built Videoranch, the idea being to create a virtual world that I could socialize in with other people, a world of just hanging out in a pleasant virtual place.
Then in 2006 I came up with the process of embedding live video in the virtual world where the virtual audience could communicate in real time with the live video performers. The virtual audience and the performers could all talk to and see each other.
It was a bit strange at first – sitting alone at a computer and talking and interacting and playing with people all over the world.
About the same time I started playing World of Warcraft, and other games. I knew my kids had played Dungeons and Dragons while young, but it never interested me, except for their involvement. I was like most parents watching their kids play.
Warcraft was the first time I ever had the experience of playing a game in a virtual world with so many people, and I loved it when my kids and I started playing together.
Videoranch does not have game play – but it does have live performances.
Over the next few years from 2006 to 2010, I played in both worlds and watched them. When Victoria, my wife of twenty five years and I split I was heartbroken and withdrew into my loneliness and sorrow.
I set Videoranch and WoW aside.
But I missed those worlds, and bit by bit I started to think about those virtual worlds and all the real people that populate them.
It wasn’t until my recognition of the high value of solitude that I was open enough to realize what good thing these virtual worlds could be. The more I savored my solitude, the more I saw these worlds as community, and my interest in VR and WoW returned.
Christian and Circe, my oldest son and SO, started playing concerts in the virtual world through a 2D site and I enjoyed watching them play and sing. (Grown up kids with serious skills are a lot of fun to have around.)
So this last year I worked on Videoranch, and created VR3D and VR2D to accommodate C&C among others. I put in a tip jar so they could ply their trade, and people could contribute. I set up a few more goodies so Mac users can watch, even if it is only from the 2D site, and communicate with the rest of the audience.
C&C are on their way up to day to Videoranch to play a concert tomorrow, Dec 7th at 3PM PST in Videoranch. While they were here over Thanksgiving holidays we all played Warcraft together, Jonathan built a toon to play in WoW and joined us. It was a joyful and happy time together. They were here all week.
But finally, when they all went home, I was glad to see them go. I was glad to return to my blessed solitude, where all my kids are in my thoughts along with all the other ideas that populate my thinking.
These ideas that grow in solitude are strong, beautiful, calming, creative ideas that reach out and lift me up in their altitude, to their mountain tops. On those mountain tops I see all these virtual worlds and virtual people, experience extraordinary moments of happiness and comfort where people connect in the real world.
The Videoranch experience has been one of the richest I have had so far – and it has uncovered for me this possibility of having solitude and peace surrounded by people and ideas in a world I never knew.
If you get a chance to stop by tomorrow into Videoranch we would love to see you.
If you are a WoW player, say hi. My WoW guilds are Videoranch on Alliance and Welach on the Horde side. A player who’s game name is Darkopal runs them.
See you tomorrow Dec 7th at 3PM Pacific time in Videoranch if you can make — singing and laughing. Dancing like no one is watching.