At the entrance of a Virtual Reality Dome, a sort of man-made universe in a biosphere, the blissful scene of an ocean sunset calls to me – as if to say “come and have a look.” I creep inside, barefoot and bewildered, trying to decipher what’s real and what’s fake. I know this ‘dome’ is no larger than a house, but from inside here I can see that this is a whole new experience. The horizon is endless in all directions making me wonder if it’s possible to become lost. There’s a brightness, a sort of joyful glow that fills the space.
Hanging low like a single light bulb, the sun, along with its posse of soft pink clouds, basks in its own reflection over the water. I move forward slowly, squishing the spongy earth between my toes with each step as the ground sweeps out in front of me, and breaks off at the edge of a cliff. Without hesitation, my knees bend like a frog, enabling me to pet the fluffy seaweed-like grass with my hands. I’m comforted and relieved that something is real. This is the perfect spot to have a seat and rest for a moment while I take in the shoreline view.
From the salty smell to the sounds of waves breaking and crashing into one another, I’m carried away by the tranquil paradise and begin to meditate on the whispering breeze. The beach is spectacular, although I can’t help but remind myself that my senses are deceiving me.
After a brief moment of complete relaxation, I catch a glimpse of something quite puzzling – something peculiar about the ocean. I’ve seen this wave before! My eyes squint as I examine the wave pattern closely, and determine that each wave is programmed in a loop that replays over and over. Of course! I must have been so lost in the moment that I forgot these waves are constructed by someone behind a computer screen. Well, virtual waves may not be as infinite and unique as waking-life ones, but this will do for now. I’m at peace.
Underneath a rosy pink and cloudless afternoon sky, a massive cluster of spectators gathers around a brand new roller coaster ride. I begin to push through the crowd, but can’t seem to figure out what I’m doing here. Theme parks aren’t really my cup of tea anymore, so I continue passing through a non-conforming line of bodies that stretches beyond the outside gates. This place is fantastically distracting, but I really do not know where I am. Unable to see what’s ahead, I press onto my tip-toes and decide to move closer to the attraction.
I climb up the side of a concrete stairway that lifts me onto a lookout point. Peering over the edge, I can barely get a glimpse of what all the oohs and aah’s are about. Wild screams swoosh by as a roller coaster car darts to the left, full of thrill seekers dangling their feet and waving their hands in the air. The car spirals around a structural pipe and drops its passengers at speeds I can’t even imagine.
This is definitely no ordinary ride, I think to myself as a giant hologram of John Lennon builds on itself and towers over the tracks. Picture John in his late 60’s era clothing, with glasses and chin-length hair. The crowd cheers in excitement as John begins speaking, but it is way too loud for anyone to make out what he’s saying. The sight alone is so magnificent that it quite possibly makes no difference to anyone.
As if the crowd needs any more stimuli, bright lights flash in clusters and dangle over the roller coaster car as it moves – almost like a baby’s mobile toy. The lights float above the cars, unattached to any strings that I can see. Could this be another hologram? Maybe a flash of bling just puts everyone over the edge. They seemed to squeal with delight at every turn.
Wow, I’m actually impressed by the lightning speed of this ride, when it hits me like a ton of bricks. Oh yeah, I was looking for someone! Everything here is entirely too distracting.