Frying Pan

I’ve swung so far: from surety in a brutal concrete reality to surety in a fictitious dreamworld. That’s a LOT of surety for someone that’s lost and confused. But when you’re drowning, you grab tightly to whatever’s near, whatever provides the most buoyancy amidst the turbulent waves that cause you to choke with panic.

You grip tightly until you’re eventually calmed by despair. I suppose hopelessness is the primary driver behind my religious conversion. There was no grand epiphany in which I was visited by angels, I simply couldn’t take the intensity of ever-present anxiety, and gave up. I quit caring. I stopped taking the game so seriously.

And nothing happened. I didn’t drown. It was as if I had been in shallow water the entire time. There was no danger. I was overreacting and only imagined myself drowning. Oops. It wasn’t my cunning and vigilance keeping me alive!? Oh well. Luckily, I’ve got it all figured out now! Nah, just kidding.

I know how to be pessimistic and overly serious, but I don’t quite understand how to play and have fun. I’ve simply gone from one confusing predicament into another. So now I have to spend my days dismissing my inherent negativity while attempting to add levity into everyday life. I have to find enjoyable activities and actively appreciate them.

Happiness isn’t easy, it’s a lotta work. But again, what would I know? I like precision and predictability and knowing how things function. Yet patterns and pathways seem to be purposefully derailed in this world. My inclinations don’t apply. Whatever direction I step doesn’t get me any closer to where I want to go. Nothing makes sense!

But if you’ve ever attempted to learn something new, that’s what it feels like. And over time, with practice, you get better. Living a good life isn’t something you inherently grasp, nor something you figure out in a day or even after a few years. You immerse yourself in the process and you stop trying to think your way through it; you let it happen.

Mental Priority

No thought is worth more than mental discipline. In other words, any idea or mental-image currently capturing your attention is less valuable than a well-focused mind. A thought will never provide the insight or satisfaction that mental discipline brings. This means it’s better to specifically direct your attention, instead of allowing it to wander amongst thoughts.

If you dismiss a thought, you’re not missing anything important. Thoughts come from a chatterbox that likes to hear himself speak. But he rambles on until he stumbles into a topic that thrills and excites, then you’re stuck with the resulting anxiety. You do yourself a favor by stopping this process and preventing this search-for-excitement.

This chatterbox is like a hacker brute-forcing a way towards anxiety, trying every combination of ideas and images until he finds a weak-spot into your attention. And once found, he throws everything he’s got at it. Deny such attacks by shutting down the spam, don’t bother looking at the attention-getting titles, just auto-filter it out.

This chatterbox is like a door-to-door salesmen that constantly comes knocking – don’t invite him in or you’ll be subjected to a stream of solicitations all day and night. “Boredom!? Not any more with the new and improved Thought-o-Matic Instant Anxiety Machine! It’ll make you tremble with stories so shocking, that you won’t be able to concentrate on anything else!”

Mental discipline is the practice of not answering that door. It’s the practice of denying thought-scans that seek surges of emotion. It’s the practice of putting proper focus first, above all thoughts. So stop giving thoughts priority, put them in their place below mental discipline. A well-focused mind is the key to your satisfaction.

Cyclical Stupidity

There is no doubt that mischievous moments are periodically introduced into my day – annoying little events that seem specifically engineered to trigger irritation. In addition, I can plainly observe the absurd nature of the society I live within. Therefore, all of this regularly occurring foolishness suggests a dreamlike reality. Otherwise, such a world would’ve collapsed long ago – something external MUST be maintaining it.

So the question becomes: am I personally manifesting these things or are they from an outside source? Am I the dreamer or a hapless victim? A long-held axiom of mine is: if it could be one or the other, it’s probably both. Therefore, I’m likely creating an experience based on my mindset and the world plays along, providing the scenes to make it so. For example, I’ve noticed differences in the types of mischief over the years. Why has it changed? Perhaps it’s because of my maturing mindset.

I only care about these philosophical questions because I’m dissatisfied. If things were great, I’d simply sit back and enjoy the show. But when I sense unpleasantness, I yell “CUT!! Stop the show! This is ridiculous! NO! I’m not doing this! Where’s the director!? Get him out here! Fire the writers! This is the most inane storyline I’ve ever had the displeasure of performing! I’ll be in my dressing room until it’s fixed!”

So then I sit there, alone and brooding. And I start wondering who’s crafting this nonesense. I wonder if I’m actually the writer. What if this is improv!? What if this is a dream I’m having, and I’m the one imagining all the dopey events taking place. I mean, if you analyze the shows I watch for instance, there’s always plenty of chaos and shenanigans going on. Based on my viewing history, you’d think I enjoy when crazy situations popup and everything goes wrong.

So then I walk out of my dressing room and apologize to the cast and crew for my temperamental behavior. Yes, I overreacted to a situation that I likely had a hand in creating. Sorry guys. Things calm down for awhile while I’m a bit more mindful of my attitude. I get comfortable, maybe even appreciative: “Heck, life isn’t so bad! Ha, it’s kinda fun when you get the hang of it.” And then the f**KING mischief begins again!!! “I QUIT!!” But the cycle continues, on and on it goes….

Absurd Mischief

There are two things I regularly observe: the absurdity of human activity (individually and as a society) – and second, the mischievous moments periodically introduced into my day. To me, this means I cannot earnestly participate in the game of life. Have you ever tried taking a game seriously while other participants fooled around and ignored the rules? It’s not fun. And then to have your efforts regularly thwarted by mischief? Why do anything at all?!

BUT, the guy that takes a game too seriously is not correct – he’s actually a killjoy. Imagine playing a game of pretend, like “house” for example: You knock on the door and inform the homeowner of high-interest rates, the possibility of refinancing, the benefits of a 401K retirement plan, as well as the need for adequate life-insurance. Your playmate looks at you in disgust as she quickly closes the door and tells you to quit being a jerk.

I’m often guilty of applying too much formality to life. Wherever I go I want to check what I can and cannot do. “We must consult the rules!!”. But if you’re constantly looking for a rulebook that doesn’t exist, you’re going to have a bad time. In fact, this world is VERY resistant to rules – it’s a Wonderland in which mischievous absurdity leads the way. You can’t apply structure to its formlessness – it’s more dreamlike than anything. The ONLY recourse is to play along.

Imagine being at a dinner in which most of the participants peridodically stand and move to the center of the room. A cacophony begins and people hop around the floor while grabbing at one another. You think: “Why don’t they sit down, be quiet, and simply eat their food!!” But of course they’re just dancing to the music, yet you refuse to appreciate or participate in the frivolity.

In video-games, it’s common to work long hard hours to achieve arbitrary rewards that disappear as soon as the game’s over. So it’s fine to pursue frivolous objectives, that’s the goal of games – but the pursuit must be enjoyable. The point is to have fun while straining to achieve those ephemeral ends. In other words, you CAN work hard within a mischievously absurd environment, you just can’t obsess about the outcome. You can’t cry when the sandcastle crumbles.

In general, enjoyment must be extracted from the process of doing something and NOT from savoring something that’s already completed or attained. In that way, it doesn’t matter if attainment even happens or an accomplishment fades away. You should be too involved in the activity you’re doing now to care anyway. In this way, mischief can’t quite affect you.

In regards to absurdity, you’ll have to embrace it and play along. For example: just do whatever you want. If you want to paint popsicle sticks, do that. Stay calm, don’t worry, and just do whatever relaxing activity comes to mind. The more lighthearted you are, the more lighthearted the mischief and absurdity that surrounds: so keep it playful. Oh and planning doesn’t work as expected in an absurd world – in fact, it just makes it easier to tease you.

Wait Not Want Not

At first I thought I was randomly born into a harsh and brutal world that didn’t care if I lived or died. Then after a few decades of living in abject anxiousness, I realized I misunderstood. I was in no danger, there were no threats – the world simply sustained me without effort on my part. Knowing that, I then surmised that the world must want me to prosper and enjoy myself within its walls. That theory has unfortunately not proven correct – I’m not saying it’s wrong, I simply don’t know if it’s true at this point.

For example, you’d want to keep your lab-rats or livestock alive, but you don’t necessarily care how happy they are. Unhappiness might even be a state that’s encouraged for research purposes as part of an experiment. Or this could simply be a game – and like any game, challenges are built into the world as obstacles to overcome. Games by their nature introduce stressors into a player’s life. Over and over, players jump hurdles and chase fleeting rewards.

I have to surmise then, that existence is like a Role-Playing Game. It’s not a movie in which you sit passively watching the scenes go by. I tried that approach and it doesn’t work. You literally end up sitting there waiting for the movie to begin but it never does. You have to actually press forward and manipulate the buttons here and there. I think life assists you, but you have to deal with challenges along the way.

Think about it this way: participation in sports is most rewarding when you push yourself close to your limit. Who cares if you can do something easily? It’s the training and straining that accompanies difficult tasks that produces the most satisfaction. A larger investment begets a greater reward. BUT: if you take a game too seriously, you’re going to have a bad time. Games are ultimately mechanisms-of-fun and your perspective should be broad enough to include this aspect.

Corporeal Lament

I’ve watched captivating movies, lost myself in enthralling shows, and journeyed alongside characters in great books. While engaged with these stories, I’m undistracted and enjoy myself. In other words, I’m an effective audience member. But when I leave these stories and return to my own story of everyday life, I’m often distracted and frequently fail to enjoy myself. What gives!?

Obviously it’s because my story SUCKS. And it’s true, I don’t like it. If I had to devise a dumber plot or a more unlikable character I’m not sure that I could. As I implied earlier, good storylines are effortless to consume, but bad narratives are boring and a chore to get through. I know good stories exist, I’ve seen them, yet my life is not one of them – why?

Nothing short of a bonafide Christmas Miracle would make the preceding years balance out. Maybe aliens introducing advanced technology such as teleportation, perfect health, mechanized avatars, and recreational virtual worlds. Well whatever it is, there needs to be a deus-ex-machina alteration to this narrative for it to become a worthwhile story.

Am I unappreciative of the miracle of life? YES, it needs to be interesting and engaging or else who cares. Ooh look at me walk around. How fun. Ooh trees! Neato. Ooh all those stars in the sky! So bright! I don’t care. Physical pain, the awkwardness of personal interactions, digestion difficulties, sleep and energy issues, the tediousness of transportation, finding purpose — who needs that crap!? If this world is simply a lesson to teach me that bodies are terrible things to have, then mission accomplished.

Who Knows

I’m not discounting the possibility that I might be a moron, but if that’s not the case then I believe this world willfully obfuscates its true nature. I’ve spent years attempting to ascertain the underlying principles of my existence – I’ve found nothing. Like a mirage in the desert, seemingly solid answers simply dissolve whenever approached. In other words, close examination of this world will not lead to an explanation.

And that makes sense of course, because you can’t explain how a movie was made by merely watching a movie. Who wrote it? Who coordinated the production? How was it recorded? How were the special-effects done? Who composed the music? The same is true of video-games: playing provides little insight into the underlying programming code and overall construction of the product. Therefore, I can surmise that this world is NOT self-contained – something exists beyond its walls.

But whether it’s movies, video-games, or even dreams, it doesn’t seem prudent to spend one’s time attempting to see-through the illusion. Why not sit back and enjoy the show? Right? But to be quite frank, I haven’t been able to appreciate my time here. It seems like a poor implementation, basically a low-quality movie. And what does one do when presented with a flick that lacks entertainment value? Well, you lose your ability to focus on the story and you sit there wondering who made this crap.

You also wonder if there’s something you can do to improve things. Maybe change seats and get a different perspective? Pay closer attention? Perhaps focus on an interesting aspect that you previously ignored? Maybe stop criticizing, and attempt to appreciate the scenes? But that just seems like a lot of homework. Whereas a well-made movie allows you to simply sit there captivated. Why should the burden of enjoyment be put on the audience? And, is such effort even effective?

In fact, I’ve spent lots of time and effort readjusting and trying to get a better handle on the situation. Meditation? Yep. Reading philosophical, religious, self-help, and spiritual books? Yep. Moving to a new location? Yep. Spending time with loved ones? Yep. Finding a hobby? Yep. Cutting out negativity as best I could? Yep. I’d say there’s some improvement, but it’s also FAR from a good movie.

So now what? Well, I know without a doubt that this world is a concoction, a fabricated fiction that purposefully confounds my consciousness. Why? Who cares about “why” if it’s fun. Unfortunately, I often find myself less than amused by the antics of this world. Is this a challenge to overcome? A puzzle set forth by some other incarnation of my self? Am I a beta-tester of some weakly implemented simulation? Is my origin the mystery I must solve to unlock the next level? I don’t know.

Practicing WhoAmIism

I’m sick of imagining a dumb backstory. “Remembering” isn’t even the word for it since I don’t know if it really happened. Because honestly, who’s to say when existence began? I literally could’ve achieved consciousness this morning and presumed a bunch of ideas and injected a few false memories about who I am and what’s happened thus far. My examination of my situation could be further tainted by a negative perspective, leaving me with incorrect interpretations all around.

So now what? What does that leave me with? For one, it leaves me without ANY baggage to carry along. I’m free of whatever preceded right now. In other words, I can think of the present moment as the start of a dream. Nothing before this moment actually existed, it’s all concocted in an attempt to explain what’s happening now. I don’t have to take it seriously, I can ignore it or even invent a better backstory and believe that instead.

In a sense, I should approach each new moment as if I have amnesia, unsure of who I am or what’s going on. It sounds a bit odd yet it’s closer to the truth. I really don’t know who I am or what’s going on here. Sure, I’ve made a bunch of assumptions but I don’t know if they’re correct, in fact they’re more likely to be wrong. These assumptions I’ve made haven’t benefitted me in any way – and typically, they tend to make me feel bad.

In summation: As soon as I became conscious, I inadvertently focused on a lot of strange thoughts. I assumed they represented a factual reality. I further assumed that following those thoughts would lead me to an explanation of what’s going on here – but doing so only led to more confusion. All those thoughts I invested in turned out to be trash and are therefore unworthy of further attention. The present moment is the only time in which I should invest my attention. Focus on now.

Old Man in the Sky

When I was a kid, I believed in a bearded man that descended to Earth to fulfill my prayers. He donned robes of red and flew in a magical sleigh — his holy bible was the Sears Wish Book. I’d scour and study the good word (and pictures) for hours at a time, compiling my finds into a list. There were many movies dedicated to his ever-presence and magical fulfillment capabilities, so I was well-versed in the doctrine of Old Saint Nick.

One truth that was always told: it was NEVER too late to save Christmas. A Christmas Miracle was ALWAYS waiting around the corner until the very last minute. Children would be filled with glee while adults would finally feel the relief they desperately needed. At first they’d be incredulous, yet they’d have no choice but to believe in the magic of Christmas and graciously accept the gifts they were given.

To say that I’m a fan of Santa is an understatement. When I imagine building my perfect woodworking shop for instance, I imagine it looking like Santa’s Workshop. When I see folks donning his red robes, I don’t see imposters, I see celebrators of the season doing their part to extend his reach. Every lit bulb I see is the twinkle in that jolly ol’ fellow’s eye. I don’t see the commercialization of Christmas, I see the physical representation of joy wrapped in paper ready to be ripped apart to reveal the revelry within.

To gaze upon his visage, I see a selfless elf with boundless cheer toting a bottomless sack containing the fulfillment of everyone’s wishes. And all he asks in return, is that you live your best life. Is that not a being worthy of the highest praise? You ask me, when the chips are down, when times are tough, when the final flicker flashes — you ask me who I call for help? It’s Santa Claus.

Snow Flocked Crimson

Santa, Santa, flying high,
With your reindeer in the sky,
Bring me presents on my list,
Surprises too, if you get my gist.

With robes of red and beard of white,
With merry cheer traveling through the night.
Mirth and miracles fill your sack,
As you enter homes with it on your back.

To you dear Santa, I make my wish,
as you eat the cookies from my dish.
May the world receive what you inspire,
the fulfillment of their hearts’ desire.

To give and get is just good fun,
As you navigate your yearly run.
My thanks kind sir for making things bright.
Merry Christmas to you, and to all a goodnight!