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  • Writer's pictureJena Ball

Turning Over the Reins

It's been almost 13 years now since Jenaia first "rezzed" into existence in Second Life. During that time she has taught me an enormous amount about virtual reality and ignited my creativity in ways I never thought possible. Similarly, living with and through her has catapulted me into relationships - both with myself and others - and environments that simply were not on my radar as a physical being. Why, for example, did creating Jenaia's outward appearance have such a positive impact on my self-esteem? How did crafting a 3D space to tell the story of a person who lived with HIV/AIDS awaken and grow my emotional intelligence? How can spending time with others from around the world in virtual reality be so freeing and supportive?

These are just some of the questions I've been asking myself.

Then two days ago, while trying to explain why Jenaia means so much to me and to my new project, Braided Lives, I realized it was time to let Jenaia speak for herself. That doesn't mean I am going away. There's plenty to do in physical as well as virtual reality to bring people together, help them tell their stories, and heal from the ongoing trauma and stress we've all been experiencing. However, Jenaia has her own unique and powerful perspective that I do my best to pay attention to every day.

An avatar, after all, is the descent of spirit into form - the embodiment of what is best in each of us - and that is how I see Jenaia . When writing from her perspective, I do my best to set my day-to-day concerns aside and ask, "what is the bigger, more compassionate version of this situation or person?" I hope to give you the benefit of her insight, love, and compassion as well. Jenaia is the best of me in both worlds. I hope you will agree.

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