A Lesson Learned in a Virtual World

“Through a painting we see the whole world.” – Hans Hoffman

Recently I had an opportunity to experience virtual reality at Jump Into the Light in the East Village. A incredible journey into what is going to be a world changing technology on par with the car, the airplane and the computer.  I highly suggest it, check it out here: jumpintothelight.com

One of the experiences was painting in the virtual world. I put the headset on and was transported to a three dimensional solid black existence. Like walking in space. My only real barriers were when my physical body would get too close to a physical wall and an artificial  wall appeared in my virtual world. A gentle warning so I didn’t take another step. An ingenious safety feature as you explore the virtual world.  Other than that, I felt as though I was in an infinite space.  An interesting feeling for someone who at this time last year was locked up.

I had a controller in each hand, these were my brushes. I was ready to go. I began to paint, experimenting with the brushes and colors. Each brushstroke appearing on a laptop for those outside of my virtual world to see. A window into my creation.

With any art, there are infinite possibilities. The only limitations are our own minds. How we perceive the way to do something and how we have done it before. Even if it is something we have never done before, we still have a perception of how it is done.  Things we have seen or heard all resting in our mind, ready to be called forth when needed.

This led the gentlemen in charge of the VR painting experience to an interesting realization.

With a wide open space surrounding us we still stand in front of an imaginary canvas and paint. We paint in two dimensions.  So ingrained in our brains is how we do certain things. Or almost everything for that matter. There is a right way, the normal way, the safe way. Anything that falls beyond that feels wrong so we don’t do it. Or, it does not even occur to us. Our neural pathways set in stone.  Shutting off possibilities.

What an incredible freedom to realize I could paint the sky, the floor, three-hundred and sixty degrees around me. Enveloping myself in what I created. I could walk through my art and see it from the other side.  I use the term art loosely, scribbles and doodles is more accurate.

And isn’t that what life really is? Walking through the multi-dimensional canvas that is all around us, exploring every corner that we can? Adding our contribution as we go along? Allowing the world to paint us, and in turn painting the world with ourselves.

I am a paint by numbers and within the lines kind of guy. I am used to moving in a linear fashion. Moving straight through a world of twists and turns. A world of bumps and potholes. Getting upset when the inevitable turn or bump comes along. Not embracing it for what it is.

A chance to learn, a chance to grow.

While in the virtual world I could feel a new pathway being dug, the old pathway resisting but eventually giving way. The excitement and fun too powerful.

I hope I can take this moment, this education and move through my life differently. I hope I can look at something I have seen a thousand times and see it as though I am seeing it for the first time.  I hope to question that which I think I know. I hope to create new neural pathways. And when those have been traveled and worn down to the ground, I hope I am able to realize it and start a new path. A new way.

It took a lesson learned in a virtual world to teach me about the real world.


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