School Days

My little boy recently started school for the first time. And instead of fretting all day, I went to Epcot and had a great time with my wife. We haven’t not had him around us for six-and-a-half years — no date-nights, babysitters, daycare — nothing. But when we sent him into school, I never worried once — I dared not, lest my worry come true. And it turned out, he had a great first day as far as I could tell. He seemed like he had fun and could finally hang around some other kids his own age.

A number of months ago he decided he’d rather go to a regular school instead of home-school. As his homeschool teacher, I wasn’t even insulted, he’s welcome to live his own life. While homeschooling him, I always did so with the potential that he’d switch over to a regular school at some point and always told him what teachers expect and how to behave and all that. I think he went-in pretty prepared — right into first grade and he didn’t seem to miss us at all.

I think if we had put him into kindergarten a year ago, there might have been some separation anxiety issues, but now it seems like he was ready. And that’s been my secret to parenting, not forcing him to do something too soon — simply wait until he’s ready, and voila! — smooth as silk. Also, part of the reason we moved to a new town was because we thought it had a better school-system than the town we previously lived in — and we picked a home only three minutes walking-distance from the school.

At the end of the first day, all the kids were swarming out of the gates. In the distance I saw his little face and I waved. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by the crowds of kids but he smiled and waved back when he saw me. His mom and I walked him home and he told us all about his time in class. It’s neat to witness a little human growing up, I see it as an honor to be able to observe it from the vantage point of a dad. Speaking of which, it’s a new day and time for my wife and I to go have some fun!

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Schrodinger’s Cat

This is not its intended usage, but since “Schrodinger’s Cat” is a commonly used concept, I like to think of it in my own way.

Since I’m an adherent of Simulation Theory, I really do believe that the cat in the box remains in a nebulous state until observed. My belief about the cat actually determines whether it’s alive or dead when I open the box. My belief is what instructs the simulation to render the cat in whatever state I imagine.

So what? Well, I use this concept as a way to force myself to think positively. If whatever I imagine renders before my eyes, then I better make sure I think the highest-quality thoughts lest I receive the worst of what I imagine. And it works — my life has significantly improved since I started ignoring and suppressing my pessimistic tendencies.

In this context, I would define anxiety as the welcoming-in of pessimistic thoughts. In other words, thoughts come and go, both positive and negative — and that’s not a problem — the problem was my willingness to entertain EVERY thought that came into my head. And it was this unfiltered approach to thinking that caused my anxiety. Once I stopped inviting unpleasant thoughts in, anxiety went away.

Do some pessimistic thoughts get pushy and try to barge their way in? Yep. But I push right back, a process that improves with practice. And whether my life is objectively better or just seemingly better doesn’t even matter — awesome is awesome. But as it turns out, things did start out seemingly better but now you could say my circumstances are objectively better too. And all it took, was a more disciplined approach to thinking.

Wet Paint

But Rich, what about [insert pessimistic thought here]? It’s great to hear that you’re havin’ a lovely time and all, but what about when it all comes crashing to a halt because of [insert pessimistic thought here]?

Here’s the deal, if life is out to get me, and this is all a trap to lull me into a false sense of security, then I’m doomed no matter what I do. So what greater slap in the face to a bully than to truly enjoy the run-up to my beating and then laugh all the way through it? But that’s even assuming life is a bully hell-bent on humiliating me before my eventual destruction — which is a ridiculous thought.

Life has literally coddled and cared for me during all these decades of existence only to pull the rug-out now? That’s crazy talk. And if life was truly that sadistic, then screw it. But life isn’t like that, in fact it’s a pretty neat ride. Sure I’ve heard about things happening to other people but that’s not my business is it — some people actually enjoy roller-coasters, they’re not for me though.

But Rich, what if life isn’t really looking-out for you? What if you’re on your own here and things just don’t work out? Well then how did I make it all these years in the first place? Listen bro, I’ve literally done sh*t to make it through life. Apparently I suck at this stuff. I don’t mind, I enjoy having something to do and I like observing and commentating on the action — no big deal. But if skill was a necessary component of game-play, well I’d have lost long ago.

The one thing I’ve finally done though, is start to appreciate the spectacle-that-is-life. That’s the only change I’ve made — and voila!, life has miraculously turned from a dark wasteland of doom into a magical wish-granting world. So screw that pessimistic bullsh*t, it’s not a form of caution or diligence, it’s just pure crap. If you paint the world with pessimistic hues, that’s what you’ll see. Now I’m painting with delightful colors that brighten up my view — and you know what, life is lookin’ good.

Becoming a Wisher

The question then becomes: do you want to be a worker or a wisher? Again, I’m not saying the worker perspective is a bad one. If you can set goals and not worry about the details too much, then exertion along a progressive path can be a fun way to spend your time. But if you suck at devising goals for yourself and constantly harp on all the negative stuff that can impede your progress, then perhaps wishing is more your style.

First, to be an effective wisher, you have to stop intermingling worker and wisher perspectives. It’s like the salvation debate, either you receive your salvation through faith or works — but not both. Second, you must accept that specifics don’t matter. For example, if you want an awesome house, who cares about the specific house — awesome is awesome. In short, what you want from life is a delightful time — who cares what form the fun takes.

As a wisher, you’re trying to create a mindset that’s ready to receive and appreciate the things in life that incite delight. The obvious question becomes: if I’m just trying increase my ability to appreciate life, then why wish at all? The answer is: anticipation is a very delightful feeling. For example, I had wished to live in a specific house, and for a few months I dreamt of living there and I even visited the place during an open-house. I had fun imagining myself living there, I studied the details and thought about all the good times I’d have. Ultimately I didn’t get that house — instead, I’m living in an even awesomer abode.

And so what? Awesome is Awesome. When it comes down to it, my true wish is this: I wish for my life to be full of delightful surprises. And I sure was delightfully surprised when I moved into where I’m living now — I love it. I love my best friend and wife, I love my other best bud and son, and now I love where I’m living. For instance, last night I was watching the Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom fireworks from my balcony — how neat is that? Sure they were tiny, but still neat.

Listen, it takes just as much blind-faith to be a worker as it does to be a wisher. A worker has to exert all that effort and simply hope it pays off in the end. A worker has no guarantee that he’ll reap a successful harvest — he could put all that work in and pests or blight could wipe it all away. Likewise, a wisher has to maintain a faith that he’ll receive what he requires. For any of this stuff to work, we have to maintain a belief in the benevolence of life. Either life is good or we’ve already lost.

If it was truly us versus life, we’d lose every time. How could we compete against the very power that created us? Duh, we can’t. So either life specifically wants us here, or we simply wouldn’t be here. And if life wants us to exist, then it’s obviously maintaining our existence. We’re just noobs at this game, we have no feasible survival skills to speak of — by some mechanism the food appears and we eat it — and by some mechanism the shelter appears and we live in it. Our only job, and the only job we’re truly capable of performing, is to appreciate this process — to love life and enjoy this gift we’ve been given.

Fitbit versus Wishbit

Under the worker perspective, you have to earn health, you literally have to buy it with the currency of fitness and nutrition. Sickness is simply waiting around the corner to take advantage of your laziness and lack of diligence. Whereas under the wisher perspective, you’re healthy by default, you simply assume you’re well and you are. Sickness is something you can wish for though — feel bad enough about your circumstances and you basically wish yourself ill.

Under the worker perspective, an abundant life must be earned through hard work — anything less than that is cheating. The harder you work, the more you gain. Whereas under the wisher perspective, abundance is the natural state of existence. Working hard is actually a lack of faith — you can’t force things, you just ask. And the more you ask, the more you receive.

It’s quite obvious that these two perspectives are at odds, at least on the surface. But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that workers are actually wishers too — they just like to pretend they’re not. For example, imagine a worker sets a goal to open an ice-cream parlor — then think about all the external aspects that have to align for it to happen. He’ll need to find an appropriate space for sale/rent, he’ll need enough money, he’ll have to figure out the marketing aspects, hope the local foot-traffic remains constant, hire the right people, hope the weather works out in his favor, hope ingredient prices remain steady — and I could go on and on. But in short, he’s a wisher that enjoys a granular level of engagement.

As for me, I used to have the worker perspective but sucked at it. I don’t think it’s a bad perspective to have as it certainly fills one’s day with things to do and fuss over. However, I was too easily overwhelmed by the daunting tasks ahead of me, I was frozen by the inertia of it all. As my list about the ice-cream parlor shows, I could imagine a hundred things that I’d need to worry about in order to achieve my goal — so goals seemed impossible.

Now I’m a wisher. The only thing between me and my goals are the hurdles I imagine. So as a wisher, my job is to suppress that aspect of my imagination. In that sense, a wisher is also a worker — but instead of focusing his efforts on the physical world, the wisher focuses on his inner world, crafting a receptive perspective, one that’s ready to receive and appreciate the things that truly delight.

Wishers vs Workers

There are two types of people in this world, wishers and workers.

Workers believe that the things they attain must be earned through effort. For example, many of these folks are working-out, sweating, and denying themselves sweet-treats for the sake of health. All the possessions they have are things they diligently worked-for. Things received or attained without effort are pretty-much worthless.

Wishers on the other hand, believe that things are simply given to them. They desire something, and poof, there it is. Work plus sweat does not add up to them. They gain possessions through wishes and expect life and the many circumstances they encounter to just work-out in their favor.

Growing up, my mentality was such that I put myself in the worker camp. I didn’t believe in wishing and thought wishers were dummys that happened to be lucky once in awhile. I believed that effort on a particular path was the only way to attain something. Unfortunately, I believed most paths to be too strenuous to follow, so I didn’t bother following any path at all.

In other words, I believed that goals required great amounts of effort, too much effort to be worthwhile — so in my mind it seemed logical to do nothing at all. It’s not until relatively recently that I finally kinda understand the wisher’s perspective. It makes sense now and aligns with my preferences a lot better than the worker’s perspective.

I’ve already jumped ship and consider myself a wisher. For example, when I was in the worker camp, I lived in a trailer-park and didn’t enjoy my surroundings. The obvious solution for a worker-type is to simply work harder to change your situation, but unfortunately I believed I couldn’t work that hard, my situation was too extreme, so I just stayed static, a prisoner to my situation.

When I became a wisher, I simply wished for an extreme change. And here I am, months later, and I’m living the dream. Poof. I’m not saying the worker perspective is a bad one, it’s just not for me. I’ve seen plenty of people “work their way up” and all that, and that’s fine. But really, wishes are truly the underlying principle of life. Even a worker wishes — whether he calls it that or not.

Workers set goals and goals are just wishes. They simply wish to be part of a step-by-step process of wish attainment. I thought I wanted that level of granular engagement too, but it turns out I don’t. I am ready to receive! Just gimme the good stuff and leave out the details! Honestly, the details are just busy-work anyway.

If I would have said all this to myself a few years ago, I’d’ve thought myself nuts. I believed Earth to be a harsh landscape in which humans are forced to struggle for survival. Oops, nope. It’s really a magical funhouse in which our wildest dreams come true. How can it not be? I’m literally living twenty minutes from the Magic Kingdom — and I’ve done nothing to get here except wish.

Self Convicted

I have a tendency to ascribe certain consequences to particular actions. For example, if I don’t eat right, my body will deteriorate — no doubt about it. But what’s it mean to “eat right”. What constitutes “healthy” changes with the times and even the region, like fashion. So in a way, my tendency to expect a certain consequence from a particular action isn’t really based in truth, it’s more of a belief system.

And if it’s a belief system, why do I bother believing in consequences I don’t like? For instance, I was taught by non-smoking ads that cigarettes lead to certain doom. Yet my mother has been chain smoking for the last 60 years without consequence. At least with her, smoking seems to invigorate and rejuvenate.

If the world is a simulation, I think our attitude about the things we ingest determines the actual effects we experience. My mom loves smoking, she started when she was a young teen in order to look cool. Smoking relaxes her, it helps her eat less, it’s a familiar routine that brings her back to now. (I hate smoking by the way, and resented all the smoke I had to inhale growing up.)

My father was a smoker too, but he got convinced that it was unhealthy. He also ate a lot, and got convinced that the food he consumed was harming him. You could tell he felt guilty about smoking and over-eating whereas my mom is an unrepentant smoker. He’s been gone about 10 years now.

I think we condemn ourselves when we commit certain acts, then punish ourselves with particular consequences. But really, our body wants to be well — yet we punish it because of our warped belief system. We ingest this, so we cause that — simple arithmetic right? But dreamworlds don’t work like that.

There are no definite paths when it’s all pixels, little dots assembled together to create the illusion of solidity. When you believe yourself well, you tend to be well. When you believe yourself ill, you tend to be ill. It’s the belief that leads the way and the pixels form to paint the picture formed in the imagination.