Obstacle Course

If it’s always something… if some new problem is always around the corner… then that’s all the proof you need to know that drama is manufactured. Some assume that the world is rife with conspiracies, but they’re applying limited logic to the situation. Yes the ongoings of life are contrivances, but they’re not created by a secret cabal of nefarious leaders — it’s bigger than that. This entire world is a contrivance, a fanciful realm of fiction, a simulation designed to captivate its audience.

A rock in a river smooths over time, losing its roughness to the current. That’s the natural course of things: the rough becomes smooth. Yet that’s not what we experience is it. In our society and in our individual life, as soon as one rough spot is smoothed, another rough spot appears. It’s different, but there it is again, the drama, an obstacle, something that must be dealt with and overcome. Curiouser and curiouser….

Games by their nature always introduce a component of challenge. Anything too easy isn’t worth doing. For example, an archery target is placed far from the archer and has a small dot for the bullseye. Why not enlarge the dot and bring the target closer? You’d be a winner every time. No, you want challenge don’t you. You want the thrill of anticipation to build as you practice. You relish the possibility of failure up until you finally hit that bullseye and the exhilaration of victory flows within you. You sick f*ck!

And you want that feeling again and again. So the problems never end. You don’t want them to end. And honestly, why should they. What else is a game for? A video-game is literally a program that’s designed to throw an endless barrage of challenges in your face. You’re here aren’t you, why else are you here except to play the game. So play it. Experiment and explore, see what you can do. Appreciate it, it’s obviously the most entertaining thing you can do or else you wouldn’t bother being here in the first place.

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Search for Purpose

Dear diary,

Like many people, I’m searching for purpose. Honestly though, I’ve been laying low for most of my life, I could quite easily continue on the slacker path EXCEPT life won’t let me. Whenever I get too comfortable in a retired-like lifestyle, life tends to introduce discomfort into my path, forcing me to action. Psh. Whatever.

As far as careers I’ve attempted, the first was early-retirement — that didn’t pan out because my friend/girlfriend wasn’t satisfied with that — or something, who knows. But because she’s an important component in my life, I made a change. The second was computer-network administration. It was part-time and on-call but only for my father’s company. I tried expanding with other clients but hated it — I moved on to computer programming after that. I tried selling some software I developed but nothing took off, eventually I switched to freelance work and finally made enough money for my friend and I to live comfortably on our own. Unfortunately I dedicated way too much time to sitting in front of the computer and burnt myself out, it only lasted a few years and I had zero interest in continuing with anything programming-related after that.

I tried making funny YouTube videos with my friend, using children’s toys as the main characters. She humored me for a few months but just wasn’t into it. I then went back to developing software, this time for the new “Mac App Store” that Apple had come out with (not to be confused with the App Store for iPhone/iPad). I sold some software, but not enough to live on. Screw it, I tried, I was definitely done with commercial software development now.

My next career, I suppose, was writing. I started a blog, this blog in fact. I’ve sold some books too, but again, nothing significant. I primarily write this blog because thoughts constantly flow through my mind and they don’t leave unless I express them. My friend doesn’t want to hear about all my thoughts so I write them here instead. Commercially my writing is not successful, so it’ll have to be relegated to a hobby I guess. So now what? Oh and I did attempt to be a stay-at-home dad but that’s not a forever thing — they do grow up ya know.

Okay, so I was listening to this guy talk about finding your purpose and I think I came up with something. Okay, ready? My new career path… is… a coach. HUH!? What kind of coach? Uh I’m not exactly sure but listen to this. Now mind you, I did go to a four-year college and received a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. What’s that? Just what it sounds like, it’s all about exercise and the science behind it. You could be a gym teacher, a guy that runs treadmills for heart-attack stress testing, a personal trainer, or perhaps even a coach.

Wait, so you’re going to be an athletic coach? Well, I don’t know about that — I mean if it comes up, then I guess I’d consider it. But I think another possible option is a “life coach” of sorts. WHAT?! Well I know what yer thinkin’ — a bit of the blind leadin’ the blind and all, but hear me out. First, I’m pretty sure I’m a coach of some sort, it’s just what I am, a relentless scrutinizer always looking for ways to improve things. I’m not really a teacher, I have more of a coach’s mentality.

For example, I’m constantly trying to coach my friend in one thing or another. Understandably, she wants no part of it, she’s not someone that likes to be coached — so that means I need to look outside of my house for people to coach. Now, I never said I’d be the best coach, just a decent one that coaches people who share a similar perspective to my own. For instance, some people starting at the gym don’t want some overly buff dude, who’s never been fat, training them. Similarly, overly pessimistic people can’t relate to naturally optimistic folks, I never could — I’d always think “what the heck are you so happy about! Just cut it out already!” So I’d be their gentle introduction into the ways of happiness and anxiety-free living.

But anyway dear diary, that’s just something I’m considering.

Searchingly Yours,
Rich

Stepping Out

If you’ve ever been bored, listless, or directionless, then that’s all the proof you need that life isn’t a read-only narrative that simply leads you by a leash. Who would write long scenes filled with nothingness? What that means then, is that you’re required to put one foot in front of the other and make a choice to move. If you don’t, you’ll remain exactly where you are.

Now, although you’re not pulled by a leash, there’s certainly a set of innate preferences that guide you along a pretty specific path. There’s differentiation of roles to be sure. Not everyone can be the patient, someone has to be the doctor. Not everyone can be the pizza-delivery-guy, someone has to answer the door. Not everyone can be the engineer, someone has to be the artist.

If you think about it, we come into this big world and it’s intimidating — it feels like if you don’t swim, you’ll sink. But oftentimes we’ll find some bit of floating debris and cling to it — we’re so desperate to survive, relying on it to keep us afloat, just drifting with the currents. But life doesn’t want you doing that. It’ll send wave after wave to shake you off.

Some of us are great at clinging though, so scared of drowning if we let go. We then imagine life is abusing us to no end. We hold tighter. Any good that comes now is only a trap, a lure trying to get us to release our grip. This is an ignorant, immature attitude of course. There’s no point in making it to the end if you’re just hiding yourself away. The game is meant to be played. Duh.

Imagine you’re playing a video-game such as Minecraft and your first reaction is to dig a hole, jump in and cover yourself over — you sit there for hours because that’s the safest course of action. Maybe once in awhile you’ll sneak out in search of a quick bite to eat and then scurry back. Why? There is no longevity bonus. The point is to have fun.

Go on an adventure, build something, do what your preferences suggest. You won’t enjoy yoursef just sitting on the sidelines, that’s guaranteed — you’ve proven that already. Life will keep attempting to engage you — if you see it as a constant intrusion on your solitude, that’s a bad attitude. Whereas if you simply accept the invitation, and actually step out to receive it, you’re good to go.

Golden Age of Chat

Yeah I remember those times. For me it started around Christmas of 96 (or was it 95?). Ant’ny was over with his family and I was showing him my new Compaq Presario. Probably had 16 meg of ram and a 1 gig hard-drive on that baby, a minitower attached to a 14 inch monitor that was deeper than it was wide and weighed 40 pounds. But anyway, we fired up one of those promotional cd-roms that came with the computer. It was for an internet/chat service. Back then there was Prodigy, Compuserve, and America Online.

The dialup-modem made it’s strange haunting sounds and we were connected! Rip-roarin’ at 28.8! We selected a chat name, something like NRA911, we were just makin’ up something crazy, for laughs. Back then ya see, you’d enter into a chatroom with about 20 other people all “chatting” at once, just typing away. Sure it was sometimes hard to follow, but back then most people weren’t fast typers — plus a lot of folks just sat there watching the conversations scroll by.

Not me though. I was active, pickin’ out my prey and teasin’ the heck outta them. In a good-natured way of course. I’d break the ice and get the room all whipped up, boy you shoulda seen me go! Nothin’ like my quiet, reserved everyday self. Eventually the room would settle and I’d select someone to talk with privately. I loved those deep one-on-one conversations. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Long-story short is that me an Ant’ny had a great time that night and I was hooked.

You had to pay for so many minutes of usage back then, it wasn’t until a bit later that they offered unlimited hours. I went through free-trial-disk after free-trial-disk. I’d be on all night chattin’ up a storm. Imagine it, I rarely had anyone to talk to in meat-space, always just watched TV or sat quietly in class. But now, there was a constant flow of people all itchin’ to chat. Sure there’d be quiet nights with minimal fishies to catch, but eventually someone interesting would show up.

Heck, it was even in a chatroom where I met my best friend twenty years ago. I was busy tearin’ it up in a Lobby on AOL and something about her style caught my attention — she was different. I singled her out and sent her an instant-message. I think I was vexed in some way, perhaps it was a bit of that hard-to-get stuff. Well I added her to my buddy-list and hoped to see her whenever she was signed-on again.

Soon after that we started exchanging emails. Deep thoughtful letters. Again, somewhat different than what I was used to. From then on we’d skip the public chats and just chat with each other. That went on for awhile. These were the olden days we’re talking about, not many people had digitized photos of themselves — you had to literally mail stuff or know someone with a scanner. But the only picture she ever mailed me was one of her 6-year-old self holding a tin of cookies at Christmas time.

We eventually moved over to phone calls, which were “long distance” and kind of expensive. We’d talk for hours and eventually she got in trouble with her mom for racking up big bills. My mom was happy I found a friend — heh. That’s how I laughed in chat by the way: heh. None of that “lol” stuff for me. Maybe a “haha” if it was really funny though. But anyway, it was 9 months until we finally met in person and I saw her for the first time. She non-coincidentally applied to a nearby college.

It was in the summer and she was taking some placement tests. I had a general idea of what she looked like and I knew what building to be in. Everyone didn’t have mobile-phones back then. The last time we talked was before she left her house the previous night. But lo and behold I spotted someone matching her description talking to her parents. She eventually made a solo trip to the restroom and I was in pursuit. “Michelle?!”, she turned around and it was her. Long black hair and racing-stripes on her jeans.

What a time. It was only a few minutes before her dad showed up wondering why she was taking so long. I left but I was on cloud 9. In a few weeks she’d be moving to be near me — oh and to go to college of course. But anyway, that was pretty much the end of chat for me. Oh sure, I went back a few times after that but never for too long. And eventually, high-traffic public chatrooms stopped being a thing. But at the exact time I needed them, they were there for me. Thanks chatrooms.

Negative Consequences

Dear Rich, if I live in a virtual-world in which my thoughts become the reality I experience, why aren’t my wishes coming true?

As is written, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. With a negative mindset for instance, every ache would become a deadly disease. Every creak in the house would be a murderer slowly stalking you. In other words, your lack of manifestation is for your own good.

Jesus said, “He that already has, more will be given — but from him that lacks, what he has will be taken.” In other words, if you’re positive, you’ll keep accumulating — a positive plus a positive equals an even greater positive. In one sense, it’s like you’ve proven yourself to have a good enough attitude to handle finding what you seek. Whereas if you’ve got a mind full of negativity, then that negativity will keep chipping away at what you have until it’s even less. In other words, if you keep adding negatives to a positive, the sum will eventually go below zero. So in a sense, if you’re pessimistic, not receiving what you wish for is protecting you. But if you keep persisting in your negativity, you’ll eventually find what you seek.

So if you want your wishes to come true, you have to stop activating the wish fail-safe mechanism. If you have this fail-safe device, you’re likely on easy-mode, so the system is watching out for you (but it can only do so much). You have to prove you can handle such unbridled power by maintaining a positive mindset. For example: Phone rings! Are you suddenly filled with dread, expecting bad news!? Fail! Noise in an unoccupied area of the house! Is it anything but pipes expanding or wood settling?!! FAIL!! You feel a sensation somewhere in-or-on your body! Deadly-arachnid-bite or cancer??? FAIL!!! Someone you know just left the house! Is that the last time you’ll ever see them??!!! FAIL!!!! If any of this approximates your reactions to life, then good luck ever trying to get good results from wishing.

With a negative attitude, even if you receive the awesome thing you wished for, your negativity would just keep whittling it away until it was gone. Obtaining and keeping what you want will require a drastic change in your belief system — and you’ll need to practice until your reactions default to positive. It’s like any fitness regimen, you have to keep at it and integrate it into your lifestyle. Now wipe that pessimistic puss off your face and smile dammit! Twenty minutes of meditation followed by twenty minutes of positive visualization!!! DO IT!!!

Miscellaneous Beliefs

How can so many people hold so many varying beliefs? Are we each only able to grasp a mere fraction of sensory data, or are we all describing the same things just with different words, or are we literally creating the external reality that we individually perceive?

If we each only ever perceive a fractional amount of sensory data, we’d expect that our collected data would accumulate over time both individually and as a society — yet that’s not what happens, we’re as dumb as we ever were, repeating the exact same themes over and over and over again. Technology has the appearance of accumulating knowledge over time, but that’s about it.

Just to note, that’s not really true about technology building upon itself over time. If you examine it more closely, technology simply refreshes itself, changing its skin to fit the transforming scenery. Technology primarily deals with communication, entertainment, transportation, warfare, and household gadgetry. Letters become phone-calls, voice becomes video. Oral stories become books which become movies. Teams-of-horses become trains, horse-carriages become cars, boats/trains become planes. Rocks become bullets which then become missiles. Fire pits become stoves/ovens, ice blocks become refrigerators, candles become lamps. The purpose of each technological category is still the same: to communicate, to captivate, to travel, to dominate, to cook/clean/heat/cool within a dwelling. In other words: the overall narratives of humanity have stayed pretty static and the purpose of the props haven’t changed — only the way they look.

Are we all describing the same things just with different words? Everyone has their own perspective and we do interpret things differently, that’s true. For example, most of us imagine some force created the known universe and we just apply different labels. But that’s not an accurate depiction because our labels should overlap over time both individually and as a society. Additionally, this outlook presupposes a concrete external reality in which we all have access to the exact same stuff. And if we’re working with the same stuff, outcomes should be predictable. But that’s not true either — people and societies are often blindsided. One guy’s outcome can vary widely from another guy’s despite them both trying to do the same thing.

So, we’re left with option C. We are literally creating the external reality that we individually perceive. And not on a mere perceptual level, but on a summoning-into-existence level. What we seek, we find. Therefore, life is more like a lucid dream in which the reality we experience is projected outward from ourself, rather than a pre-existing concrete world in which we explore and consume. If we see something we don’t like for example, it’s our very own projection, an illusion that matches our turbulent mind. To control this dream, we must first calm the mind and direct its focus, projecting the most delightful scenes we can imagine.

In conclusion, the many varying beliefs exist because the world literally differs from one perspective to another. To some it’s a moss-covered rock, to others it’s a garden of Eden, to some it’s a hellish nightmare — it’s whatever the mind projects. As Hamlet said, “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. It is in our best interest then, to think the best thoughts. And to do that, we need to abandon our fears and suspicions about life, completely accept the paradise we’ve been provided, and live.

Orchestrated Existence

What we truly seek as individuals, is a harmonious interaction with existence. That is what happiness is. So as a musician within the orchestra of society, we seek to practice and perfect ourselves while integrating our developed skill with the whole.

But if we are an orchestra, who is the conductor? Do we simply self-organize — attempting to harmonize with our nearest neighbors? Do we listen for a melody we like and then attempt to implement it? Do we hear a tune in our head and just play, hoping it aligns with others?

We can individually improve till we become virtuosos, but without a common score, we’d be a cacophony. Does something maintain a rhythm by which we all march? Do we simply improvise until the discomfort of discord directs us into a coordinated composition?

Like any musician, we are not only players but listeners, enjoying sounds that flow out from ourselves, mixing and merging with the vibrations of others. And when our confidence rises we add in our own variations, altering the piece through finesse. As we improve our ability to operate our instrument and incorporate into the orchestra, we hear it — the melodic music of mortal being.