By Way of Introduction

    As I sat silently in the car of my dearest friend, my mentor, my first ever example of an honestly good man, I reflected on the conversation we were about to conclude.  We had explored the very furthest reaches of sociology and psychology in pan-galactic proportions.  We had explored the human condition the way a National Geographic photographer might have explored the Amazon River.  We solved all of the problems that had ever plagued all of mankind in the course of a single lunch!  But that was every day, or at least, every lunch he and I had shared together.  He was my adopted grandfather and a precious man that gave such great advice out of concern and love for his little one – me.
As I reflected on that special day, with the summer sun cooking us through the windshield, and no AC, he said something that influenced the rest of my life.  “You have a beautiful heart.  Everywhere you go you are helping others.  I really feel like you’re meant to be a shepherd.”  For the sake of keeping this short, I will summarize the next two hours of him telling me what that meant.  Okay, here goes:  “Your heart’s desire is to protect, feed, guide and love everyone you meet.”
Aside from all of the dumb nods and “I don’t get it…”‘s that I gave him that day, he was right.  That is who I am.  My SL name reflects it:  Unmasked Shepherd.  I know it’s sort of a silly name and not very “personal” at times, but its meaning is quite profound to me.  I have endured a very difficult life.  I have been forced by consequence and by methods of survival to wear many masks in the past.  Some masks protect you from being seen, some masks help others to see you the way they would like you to be seen, and some you are forced to wear by other people.  My name asserts that I am done with all of that.  I am now living on the other side of a very dark past where light pervades every aspect and reveals every secret.  What I have learned and what wisdom I have gleaned by overcoming so much adversity becomes my heart’s desire to share that it might bring hope to those who are hurting.
That is what I am introducing through this article; hopefully, a way to help people in SL.
Second Life is a vast and unique environment that allows for some truly astounding experiences.  While MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft and EverQuest limit their players to Role-Playing and the character sets are pre-made for them, SL gives us an opportunity to express our true selves through avatars with limitless customizations.  While some may still engage in Role Play in SL, I believe for many it becomes important to represent who they are inside within this open and free environment. That can also mean that very real emotions and feelings come to the surface; perhaps even more intensely at times than they would have in First Life.  “The SLippery SLope” will be an on-going advice column of sorts that will endeavor to address those hurts, feelings, moral and ethical confusions, even joys.
I don’t by any means have answers for every question.  As you submit your questions or concerns to me, consider these facts and guidelines.  Submit a Notecard to me, Unmasked Shepherd. Your question may be selected for any one month’s advice column and be made public.  Not every question will be addressed, nor will every question feasibly appear in The Konstrukt.  As some questions will exceed me, I may ask the counsel of others in hopes of best answering those questions.  If you absolutely need individual counsel over an issue and do not want it made public, I will not turn you away by limitations.  I guarantee Notecards submitted to me with the word “PRIVATE” included in the title will be shared in no way.  All Notecard submissions will be presumed to be Anonymous.
I would prefer that your questions address emotional or sociological issues you or your friends are personally facing.  One to three questions will be addressed in the article each month maximum, but I will try to answer as many of the Notecards I receive as possible outside the monthly column.
I would like thank “The Konstrukt” for the opportunity to begin something like this.  I hope you will all make good use of this column.  I have faith that it can help.

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