Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reader Submitted: Relaying in Real Life and Virtual Life

 By Bain Finch

My first Relay was in SL 2011. In 2012 I helped bring Relay to IWz. In 2014 I join my local real life Relay group, and been involved with all 3 groups, every year, since. This year, I've pulled back some, and will be the first year, I will not hold any planning group role.

For the most part, both RL and VR Relay are exactly the same. We joke about no bugs, weather, parking, but we do have lag, and we do have sim crossing parties. For the uninitiated, lag is just want it sounds like, so many people are on one sim (server) the system can't keep up. Sim crossing parties slightly different beast. Each sim is a different server, so when moving from sim to sim, your avatar and all you are wearing, needs to be handed off to that new server. When that fails, people pile up at the sim boarder, trying to enter, hence, sim crossing parties.

But you want to know something, the challenge of keep walking the track and dealing with lag and sim crossing issues, pretty much equals the challenges of dealing with weather, and temperatures, while walking, all night long.

The one thing VR Relay has over RL is our campsites builds. Most campsites are season themed, reflecting the Team's reason for Relaying, filled with advocacy information about cancer, health choices, mission messages and more. The biggest uniqueness for Relay on virtual grids is ability to communicate locally, within groups, group notices with tie-ins to social media, blogs and more, right across the whole grid, with the same abilities of using the fundraising dashboard, is virtual Relay's greatest strength. Virtual Relay transforms ones advocacy's signage, into a portals, able to span the world, free of language barriers.

The one marked difference, from the virtual Relay I noticed, was during and following lighting of the Luminaria. Wasn't until my second RL Relay, that I noticed it. Once the Luminaria are lit, the track begins to stratify and have distinct lanes. The outside lanes are for the runners. The middle lanes are for the walkers. But that inside lane, next to the Luminaria, that for the Luminaria shufflers. Moving one step at time, reading each and every Luminaria as they go. Silently advancing, bit by bit, read, step forward, reading the outpouring of love, all mindful of each other, while the walkers are pacing their laps, further out. After a bit, I find myself on that divide between the Luminaria shuffle lanes and the walkers coming at me, just looking at all their faces. Right there, I could see it in their eyes, that quiet, unspoken connection of the heart.

In the wee hours of that night, when I found myself sheltering from the cold and light rain, alone with my thoughts, I found my thoughts bouncing back and forth between all my Relay experiences, that I now realize, Relay's greatest strength is it's sense of community it creates, it's sense of belonging. As an individual, I can build a house. But get a bunch of folks together, and we can move mountains, build a pyramid or a coliseum in short order. Together, we can help each other, each doing our part, all adding together, all the while, reaching our goals.

Lite one candle, you push back the darkness on a space, lite a bunch of candles, you brighten up the whole night.

Bain Finch

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