Interpretive Dance

What’s going on here, what is this? I ask such questions because it’s my nature to do so. Yet I know every question that’s answered simply fades away, a new one takes its place. Seems a bit futile doesn’t it, like Sisyphus rolling his rock up that hill.

Of the many question & answer pairs I’ve coupled throughout the years, I can see that the question doesn’t really matter, nor does its answer. Think of it like eating. What’s one meal matter? I could skip a meal and be none the worse for it. The same routine everyday, multiple times per day. Yet by the next day, even though I’ve done it all before, I’m eager to eat again.

Frivolously insignificant repetition – is that the fundamental nature of existence? An individual leaf on a tree is pretty insignificant – but as a whole, leaves bring a tree to life. Song and dance are frivolous by their nature, bewildering words mixed with repetitive sounds, all while undulating in circles. And it’s one insignificant stroke at a time upon canvas that paints a masterpiece.

Every insignificant day forms a life, and every insignificant life forms the pageantry of this world. Each piece of the puzzle is both insignificant and significant, holding two states at once – perspective of the observer determines which. Where is your attention focused and what’s your interpretation.

Problems Problem

The funny thing about solving a problem is that it simply creates space for a new problem. The concept of “problems” never goes away by resolving actual problems – fixing one just invites another to take its place. So in that sense, there’s no rush to solve the current problem.

The same thing can be seen with goals or projects. I’ve rushed through projects only to find myself waiting for the next one to begin. Why did I bother rushing!? If I had taken my time, I would’ve strained less and enjoyed more. Rushing in this world is not a logical approach.

Rushing just gets you to the end quicker. In the case of life, that’s death. If you’re playing a game for enjoyment, why would you speed through it? Slowing down and savoring the sensations associated with gameplay seems the better strategy.

Problems aren’t circumstances that require solving. “Problem” is a label you apply to a particular state of affairs. Without the label, those specific conditions are meaningless. With the label, you’re suddenly called to action, having sufficient reason to engage with the world.

Bored? Now you’re not. That procession of problems is a cure for boredom. But are problems what you prefer to be preoccupied with? If not, you may want to move your focus away from the concept of problems. A hurdle on your path only becomes a hurdle when you define it as such. If you don’t want to jump it, just go around.

Futile Resistance

You’ve seen it: a character is placed into what he believes to be a prison. He proceeds to struggle, fight, lash out, not listen, attempt escape, complain, and exhaust himself with all these futile efforts. Eventually, he gives up his belligerent ways and starts to harmonize with his situation. He goes from miserable to okay. He might be attending a new school or joining a new family – whatever it is, it’s new and different and he’s ready for battle.

But then there are characters like Annie. She resists her predicament and actually ends up in a better place with Daddy Warbucks. She didn’t have to accept a hard-knock life and eke-out little bits of happiness wherever she could. She didn’t have to alter her perspective and ignore the muck and mire until she found joy within. No, she was plucked from her predicament and placed in a loving palace filled with earthly delights.

“Face it kid, you’re an orphan, your parents aren’t coming back to get you.” But Annie wouldn’t accept this. She had an enduring optimism in what would come and an unwavering faith in her parents’ love. She left to find them. With the intent of finding her home, she found it – it just wasn’t quite what she expected.

I relate to the feeling of imprisonment and straining against my situation and resisting assimilation. It’s been several decades and I still haven’t harmonized with my surroundings. I spend so much time and effort trying to embrace earthly existence, just trying to get through each day with a decent attitude. I’m no where near the point of actually living life, I’m still trying to accept the basic premise.

“Maybe far away… or maybe real nearby….” Nowadays I spend my days in the prison wood-shop. I make little things as a way to pass the time. Earth feels like a waiting room, with the TV tuned to something I don’t prefer. Waiting for what? I have no idea. I might be doing something wrong, but I don’t know what else to do except sit quietly and wait. I don’t expect anything at the end of the wait, simply the receptionist telling me that they’re closing – and out I go.

Cake Life

If you add nasty ingredients, you’re going to make a nasty cake – right? Frustration, bitterness, suspicion, disgust, jealousy, fear, rage, pessimism – these types of ingredients would make for a nasty life. A great life requires great ingredients. When mixing up a cake, you don’t throw whatever’s in the pantry into the cake – right? Some oregano, strawberry jelly, and a can of beans? No, you only include the required ingredients for deliciousness, such as flour and sugar.

Ingredients to life are added through focus. For example, if I arrive at a surprise party, I can focus on the fact that my family tricked me and betrayed my trust as they jumped out of the darkness to scare me. How dare they! Or, I can focus on the effort and thoughtfulness that must’ve went into planning the party and maintaining the element of surprise. Wow, what a great family!

Life’s ingredients are added every moment of the day. A pleasant experience is created when we focus on aspects of life that amuse and delight. Whereas a thrilling high-intensity experience is crafted by focusing on aspects that evoke fright. The recipes are pretty simple: for something sweet, find the fun – for something bitter, focus on the most unpleasant facets you can find.

Life is whatever you focus on. Focus on struggle and strain and all the failures you’ve had? Life is hard and you’re a loser! Focus on the great things you’ve done and all you’ll eventually accomplish? The world is full of opportunities and you’re its champion! Your focus determines the world you experience. Focus on filth, then everything’ll be dirty. Focus on ducks, you’re going to see a lot of ducks. So why not focus on the things you enjoy most. (One caveat: don’t focus on the LACK of things you want. Proper focus should always evoke pleasant feelings.)

Add the Opposite

Adding a negative number to a negative number makes it even more negative. Whereas adding a positive number to a negative number makes it less negative (or positive if big enough). Likewise, adding positivity to your situation incrementally improves it. But if you’ve stockpiled a lot of negativity over the years, you’ll have a lot to make up for. You’ll have to add in a lot of positivity to get on the positive side of life.

Can’t you just discard the stockpiled negativity? Maybe. A lot of it’s stored in memories. To dump memories, simply ignore them when they surface and stop actively recalling them. Memories are reinforced through repeated recall – stop recalling them, and they fade.

Rule number one of positivity: DON’T FIGHT AGAINST THE WORLD. Don’t battle, struggle, resist, argue… nothing. The world is literally THE WORLD, you won’t win. If the world wanted you dead, you’d be dead. In fact, the world guarantees you’ll die at some point, it’s a promise. So don’t attempt to defend yourself from the world, the world is what sustains you – it keeps you alive.

Therefore, your efforts should not be spent in defensive strategies, your energy should be directed towards the cultivation of calm. You must restrain any tendency for aggression, stop criticism, and arrest anxiety. In short, you should spend your time focusing on what’s good instead of what’s bad. This is no easy task by the way, it takes significant dedication and effort.

As is written: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” But the keys to the kingdom are not simply handed over. No my friend, there’s a quest of course! There are traps galore, all set with bait to lure you into negativity. Resist these invitations! Whenever controversy stirs you to anger, resist! Whenever fear takes you by the hand, resist! Whenever suspicion sticks you to woven webs of delusion, resist!

To obtain your kingdom, this is the algorithm you seek: become gentle in thought, word, and deed.

Laundry List

What do I want? Hmm, let’s see… I want a mind that’s witty, and appreciative, and one that amuses itself in the most wholesome of ways. I want a fit and sturdy body that effortlessly sails through its environment, providing nothing but joy. I want to spend the perfect amount of time with companions, the right amount to feel fulfilled in our relationships (my companions should otherwise be engaged in their own fulfilling endeavors). I want to pursue treasured pastimes in which I engage with particular facets of the world, developing mastery in my craft. I want to lose myself in lighthearted stories, entertainment that captivates and delights. I want a forever-home, one in which I feel at-ease, comforted, satisfied, a place that facilitates a good night’s rest. I want to buy, collect, and upgrade trinkets aplenty, filling my space with all sorts of gadgets, tools, toys, and other artifacts of this world.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I live in a simulated world after-all: coordinates update, pixels change color, and subroutines get rewritten.

If it’s just a simulation, why don’t I have these things already? Simply due to the lack of mental discipline! When I entered this realm, my mind thrashed about, suspicious and afraid, I focused on the worst things I could think of. But it’s my job to bring these turbulent thoughts under control, yet I was ignorant and/or negligent in doing so.

So here I am now, wishing for things in Wonderland – a silly thing to do of course. But that is precisely why it’s the only plausible course of action. The more frivolous, the better! When you try to be serious or logical in Wonderland, you guarantee yourself a very bad time indeed. And it just so happens to be MY unbirthday today too! How very wonderful!

Trees versus Thoughts

From one perspective, I’m simply sitting here gazing out the window at the tree-line in the distance, the rising sun’s rays adding gold to the green against the light-blue sky. But from another perspective, my mind rages as waves against a rocky coast, smashing thoughts into focus. And not high-quality thoughts filled with nourishment and delight, but dank and disagreeable ones unworthy of attention.

Why do toxic thoughts incessantly pollute my experience of existence? The only answer I’ve surmised is that it’s due to a lack of mental discipline. In other words, I allow it to happen like a negligent caretaker. My mind is a puppy needing to poop: without guidance, he poops where he pleases, leaving undesirable piles to step in. But with diligent observation and some encouragement, those poops can be properly directed.

Apparently though, I’m a VERY lazy caretaker. I’d rather trudge through the muck than spend any effort avoiding its accumulation. Or, perhaps mischievous forces are injecting obstacles onto my path. Either I’m to blame for my own misery, or I’m a hapless victim struggling against a wicked foe. Experience tells me that victimhood is a sorry state to cultivate, so that means I must settle for being indolent and irresponsible.

So here I am, perpetually pushing a rock uphill. But in my case, it’s the perpetual application of mental discipline. Simple realization has never been enough, I must actively adjust my focus away from the unsatisfying and toward the fulfilling. I must keep myself from constantly criticizing and steer towards appreciation. I so often let go of the wheel, allowing my mind to wander into the gritty gunk that leads to unpleasantness. Oh well, brush it off and go again.

Relative Discontent

I think one of the most difficult aspects of existence is the “sliding scale of dissatisfaction”. No matter how much life improves, there’s always a “worst”. Even if I eat like a king every night of the week, one of those days contains my least favorite meal. Even if I feel great most of the year, a day in which I have a headache feels like the worst day ever. This phenomenon demonstrates that external improvement can NOT lead to satisfaction.

It is ONLY by the cultivation and practice of “appreciation” that one can get anywhere near the realm of contentment. It’s an internal process utilizing mental discipline. It requires an awareness of focus and the application of effort to maintain focus on high-quality subject-matter. “This is the worst meal I had all week!” becomes “This is the seventh greatest meal I had all week! I’m so grateful to have a variety of foods to consume. Varying meals makes my experience better!”

Rating and comparing are dangerous activities rife with nastiness. When you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes – ultimately leading to dissatisfaction. Don’t like something? Don’t think about it. Like something? Appreciate it sans-comparison. Something is good for its inherent qualities, not because it’s better than something else. And again: if you can’t find an aspect you like, focus on something you DO like – even if it’s a fanciful fairytale in which everything goes your way.

Discontentment flourishes from comparison and criticism. “This is better than that! She’s better than me! This is the worst! I want the best! My expectations aren’t met!” Utilize mental discipline to cease comparison and criticism – stop encouraging such unpleasantness. Stop comparing to an idealized image. Encourage appreciation instead, place focus on what pleases and delights – things that invoke smiles and laughter, activities that inspire feelings of accomplishment.

Cultivating Calm

Chaotic forces swirl and I sail atop else I get swept up in their turbulence.

Why does such chaos exist? It is the source of creation, the pool of imagination – from it, pours the world. Out comes the many scenes and seeming randomness of experience. Be without a rudder, a set direction, and a thrilling adventure whisks you up, down, and all around. But set your focus firm and you’ll tend to head in a specific direction.

A novel intensity that keeps boredom at bay or a sure thing in which appreciation must be continuously cultivated. Choose one.

Being unable to appreciate anything, I picked the first option. But the intensity was too much – now I want the second option. Yet, focus and enjoyment of what’s in hand are difficult things for me to master. I can see there’s a certain charm to the calm – but allowing my mind to wander into the fray is so easy.

Every day, every hour, every minute, I must become aware of what I’m focusing on, examining my thoughts and how I’m feeling.

The external world I experience conforms to my focus. A bad time reflects a bad attitude. I no longer strain to jump actual hurdles, but train my mind to remove focus from the concept of obstruction. As a result, concrete problems dissolve back into the swirling chaos.

Whenever I experience unpleasantness, I am to blame. Disagreeable circumstances are a consequence of haphazard consciousness, a lack of mental-discipline. Leaving my mind unattended leads to an ever-spreading blaze. But if I simply attend to the flame, keeping it within a designated area, I receive warmth and illumination.

Introductory Statement

An excerpt from the fictional tales of An Alien on Earth:

People of Earth, my planet has for a long time watched your continued development. Please do not interpret this clandestine monitoring as nefarious, but merely as intense curiosity. As you might watch a bird in its natural habitat, we watched without want of disturbing your ways. By our communication, we realize your attention will turn to us.

Why now do we break our silence and seek your attention? Why does anyone travel to exotic locales and interact with the locals? It is simply an interesting facet of existence. And as there is no perfect time for one people to introduce themselves to another, this time seems as good as any. Those of our planet value an ever broadening path into the wider universe.

Obviously in terms of interplanetary travel, our technology is more advanced than your own. But as a people, I think you will find us relatable. I also believe that many among you would be interested in learning about our world. Of course we’ve studied your world from afar but we would like to engage in a more interactive approach.

We recognize the risks involved with such proximity and we accept them. Again, as we are sufficiently advanced and far reaching, we expect nothing of you – simply the wonders of interaction with an alien species. We are not a warlike people – we do not crave domination, but exploration. Nor do we seek to influence your world – uniqueness is what makes traveling to different lands so fascinating.

People of Earth, we come in peace – in the spirit of friendship and goodwill. Let us therefore celebrate together as inhabitants of a shared universe. Let us rejoice in an exchange of culture and begin a dialogue that will expand our perspectives, feed our fascination, and increase our joy. We welcome you to travel upon our ships and to experience our world as well. With great admiration and affection we offer you fellowship and we look forward to our new interactive discourse.