It is 5:45 AM on December 27th, 2018. I woke up at 3:00 AM and so just decided to get up.
I’ve been playing with my Oculus Go that I gifted myself for Christmas and it is fabulous. It is the same as my Samsung Gear VR but that used my Samsung S6 and always had to cool down after only 10 minutes of use. So it is wonderful to actually be able to dive deep into the universe of VR and spent about two hours in it this morning.
The first thing I did was dive right back into my Meditation VR. I chose a guided meditation focusing on Gratefulness. I was floating above a rippling ocean next to a beach and was reminded to be grateful for not just the opportunities I have but to be a part of this beautiful universe. I really needed a good guided meditation because my mind has been in overdrive recently and needed to slow down.
The next meditation I was in the Borealis Basin overlooking a frozen lake surrounded by pine trees covered in snow. I chose Zen for the guide as it is my favorite: I needed to remember just to be, to just be present. It reminded me that my awareness is like a clear blue sky that has always been there and the clouds like thoughts which come passing through. Our minds are always rushing on to the next thing, and it is this mindset that can set the pace for life. Instead, it is better to slow down, be present in the moment, to take time to just be aware of your existence, your surroundings and your own consciousness. Your mind is what determines what your reality will be and shapes the environment not only from a perspective standpoint but also physically depending on the choices that the mind selects.
And so after I had stopped just to exist for a while whilst floating over a frozen terrain I thought I should teleport around the world a bit.
Using VR made me think that perhaps this is what a mind would be able to do when freed from the body. Call it a spirit, another dimension, the afterlife, Heaven, or whatever provided our consciousness is eternal, I imagined it would be able to do what I was doing in VR. That is to say it could reflect on itself as I was doing in meditation but also just be wherever it decided to be.
And so, I opened up my new app Wander which is exactly what VISIO Places used to be. VISIO Places is no longer supported by Oculus and for a moment there I was really bummed until I found Wander. What it is is Google Maps and Street view put together so it is easily navigable but in a virtual reality environment.
I opened up my map and the first thing I did was open up collections and found I could visit a few real haunted houses in America. So I stood outside these houses and read what had occurred there. It was a bit surreal to just be right there as though I was actually standing in front of those places.
Next I saw a collection for Nigeria and having never been to the country myself took a look. As could be expected it is very third world and I immediately felt a little sympathy for all those scammers which Nigeria has a reputation for. If I had been born in that country and scamming was my only source of possible income then that is what I would do. It is easy to hold the moral high ground when you actually have a high ground in terms of money. That is to say, it is easy to look down on people when from an advantageous position isn’t it?
Then, it was time to go back to my past and that of course meant Toledo, Spain. I came right up to the front door of La Fundación José Ortega y Gasset. I couldn’t believe that Google Street View went right up to the front door! As I hovered there as a VR spirit so many memories came flooding back to me. I remembered the smell of the lobby, the feeling of stepping into the school. I remembered how I’d greet people and how a normal day of class and study would unfold. Without VR allowing me to actually stand in front of that entrance way a lot of these memories would not and maybe never have resurfaced. Yes, I remember the good times but the ordinary, mundane memories which really give a colorful backdrop to those golden nuggets are what really make up the experience. For a metaphor to really describe what I’m getting at lets use a boat on the ocean. Yes, the highlights might be spotting a shark, or an island, or whale but it is the wind in your face, the smell of the sea, the rocking of the boat and the sun on your face which really make the experience. I easily remember going out with some girls, partying with friends, overlooking the city on a warm summer night and visiting the cathedral but it was the actual study as well as just being in an entirely new environment which really defines my experience there.
After I had spent time simply remembering in front of the school entrance I had to trace my usual route from the school through the side streets to La Plaza Zocodover. This also brought back a lot of memories such as the smell of fish in La Calle de Pescado, the desire for “American food” which was satiated by McDonalds (unfortunately) and getting completely lost in that labyrinth of a city from time to time.
I tried to find my homestay residence and although I’ve found it previously (with the help of the address) I couldn’t do so just using a map. Instead I found Hotel Beatriz and for some reason this name sticks out in my mind. I think it might be where my parents and sister stayed when they came to visit. I’ll have to do some research into my personal archive as well as just ask my parents to see if that is the one. I’m pretty sure it is and so VR helps me again to remember my past.
I really enjoy and would consider it a hobby of mine to dig into my past and remember as much as I can everything about it. It helps that I have a ‘treasure chest’ of memories that I’ve added to my entire life, saving the important stuff and can pull from. I also use this very blog to remember as I have kept a journal since we got our first computer when I was in the 7th or 8th grade.
One final thought before I go. I feel as though I’m one of the very few people who can actually remember the past as it actually was. I have this journal and my ‘treasure chest’ to aid me and these are invaluable to help me remember not just the nuggets, individual events, experiences and whatnot, but the entire backdrop as well. For a brief moment I can slip into the mindset at that time, not just my current mindset pulling a memory like a book from the shelf. Instead my mindset morphs just for a moment to how it was at that particular time. This is not easy to do and occurs only in flickers, but with the help of the stimulation that virtual reality provides, I can hold those flickers longer.
Now, using this ability to remember how things actually were I am then able to more full realize what an amazing time we live in today! Now, lets imagine me telling the following things to the 1988 version of me versus anyone here in San Francisco today:
- We have video on our telephones!
- I can play video games on a huge TV with real life graphics and with anyone around the world!
- I can join a virtual world just like they do in The Lawnmower Man!
- We have all of human knowledge available in a handheld device!
Now look around and see how many of these things inspire awe in anyone today. In fact, these innovations might get nothing more than a shrug from most in 2018 where anyone in the 1980s would be astounded. This is where meditation and just being grateful as well as appreciating my very existence comes into play and the physical world takes on much less importance. It doesn’t matter how much progress we make, or the incredible feats we accomplish if we do not have the right mindset. I’m afraid that all this technology, data and information is too much too soon for our minds which have taken millennia to evolve.
Perhaps our minds were more serene when we had rotary dial telephones and no answering machine. That was when we didn’t need to “be on” all the time. I think that would be much more peaceful than having a cell phone which every service and application in the world is trying to get your attention.
To really drive home my point, imagine telling someone in 1980 that they could have their name physically on Mars. I bet the entire nation would sign up. Yet having this same opportunity in 2015 only nets NASA a few hundred thousand takers.
Amazing isn’t it? All of reality is determined by our mindset. There could be a time when we are all able to fly, have just had a picnic in some very remote wilderness that humankind had never touched, then fly on up to our floating city and the same type of people who don’t appreciate the opportunities we have now wouldn’t appreciate opportunities in the future either.
I will appreciate the experiences I have today, have had in the past and will have in the future.