Primary Focus

If “focus” is the ultimate influencer of experience, then what am I allowed to focus on (while ignoring everything else)?

For you Rich, you may focus on the following (but only in fun and never frustration):

(in no particular order)
Tools, woodworking, technology, engineering, computer programming, and math.
Good relations with companions.
Funny aspects of things.
Triumphant stories and comical depictions.
Lightheartedness and the sensation of joy.
(joy: warmth, weightlessness, oneness – everything is as it should be, perfect, complete.)

Watch your thoughts – if something comes into focus that isn’t on the approved list, switch it off and select something from the list. If you’re experiencing a situation that is difficult to disconnect from, attempt to focus beyond it. Ride it through calmly and quietly while trying to focus on something outside of it.

New Principle

I’ve always considered myself engineering-minded. And with that, came a desire for efficiency. Therefore, I attempted to streamline a lot of processes I performed in everyday life. I pursued efficiency in all matters. But now I realize the folly in that pursuit. It’s dumb. Efficiency itself isn’t dumb per se, but applying it to everyday tasks IS.

Essentially, it results in “hurry-up and wait”. If you’re super-efficient in everything you do, you often end-up with nothing to do. If I can prepare and consume a meal in under 10-minutes, now what? Compare that to someone that selects a recipe, shops for specific ingredients, preps everything, cooks it, eats it with a companion, cleans-up afterward – the entire meal process takes time and could fill a significant portion of the day.

What did efficiency ever get me? More time to do what, exactly? More time to apply efficiency I suppose. Cutting out as much fluff as possible and moving on to the next thing obviously hampers the ability to appreciate anything and minimizes application of an esthetic element. Keep it simple and prioritize function over form. It’s not a better way to live, it’s just a recipe for boredom and austerity.

Therefore, my new primary engineering principle to pursue is “precision”. No longer am I shaving off steps, boiling-down tasks to their barest essentials, I am now inclined to delve deeper into individual operations and pursue them with greater care and appreciation. In short: the ends will not justify the means – it’s the means that will matter most. It’s not about “perfectionism” though, it’s simply an admiration of accuracy and taking the time to do something well.

Mind Pet

Think of it like this: the mind is a pet. But not an easy one, he’s more like the worst behaving pet ever. If you leave him unattended, he’ll destroy the house and eat his own feces. BUT, instead of being cute and cuddly, there’s another reason to keep him: he’s similar to a lick-able toad. He takes you, the consciousness, on exciting journeys within wondrous narratives packed with twisting plots and crazy characters. You’re kinda addicted to it.

Being that the mind is the only way to access these stories, you deal with it. It’s a major pain in the butt though – and you’re often at odds, yelling at the mind for his complete disregard for keeping things tidy and feces-free. “Stupid mind, I told you not to do that!!” But the mind keeps on doin what minds do: crafting excitement and excrement. Obviously, yelling at the mind never works.

But like those tales of incompatible roommates, sometimes a happy-medium can be achieved. First, the mind can NOT be left unattended and allowed to entertain himself. Yeah, sometimes the mess won’t be so bad and you’ll assume the mind’s finally calmed down and behaves appropriately when left alone. But soon enough, BAM!… feces everywhere. You can’t trust it, ever.

Of course that puts a burden on you, the consciousness. There’s just no vacation, no rest for the weary. But consider this: you might be able to set the mind on a specific course and coerce him into an acceptable narrative in which you (the consciousness) sit back and relax. It’s like putting him on a leash or in a fenced area.

For example: sit him in-front of a movie he likes, make a playlist of videos he’ll enjoy watching, get him into a suitable hobby, assign him a project he’s interested in, do some exercise he enjoys – essentially, find something he performs without complaint. Otherwise, the second you stop supervising, he’ll smear poop everywhere. You’re his cruise-director, do your duty and make sure he’s got entertaining stuff to do or he’ll trash your ship.

Stop Snowballing

Noticing a thought. Considering that thought. Extrapolating from the thought. Adding to the thought. Rolling the thought around with all its extrapolations and additions until you’re covered in an anxious mess that you can’t escape from.

I’m literally anxious from just thinking about the process. A minute ago I was fine – but snowballing is such a wicked form of self-torment.

Notice a thought. Shut it down. Notice the thought again. Shut it down, again. Notice a thought. Shut – it – down. If you don’t roll it around, it can’t collect more snow. Keep it small and manageable. Once it gets larger, it can’t easily be undone.

Stand up and do something physical, something distracting, do something differently than usual, find a show or video to watch, have a project ready to jump into, say hello to someone, tidy something, find a fun activity. Stop the snowball from forming.

I suppose you have to become your own cruise-director. Don’t leave your daily activities and entertainment up to “whatever”. If you don’t design something interesting for you to do, you’ll just end up scaring yourself with dumb thoughts all the time. A bored mind will relieve itself one way or another – it’s better to provide it with pleasant options.

Tranquility and Joy

I adopted a dreamlike perspective in order to zoom-out a bit. I didn’t want that perspective per se, I was using it as a means to an end. I theorized that a zoomed-out perspective would lower the overall intensity of my experience. I stuck to it for about a month and noticed that the perspective was relatively easy to achieve – but I’m not sure the result aligns with my ultimate goal. What I really want is tranquility and joy. So perhaps I should dedicate a month to pushing THAT as a perspective.

Instead of “you’re not a human, you’re a whimsical dream”, it becomes “you’re not suffering or dissatisfied, you’re tranquil and full of joy”. I don’t know if that will be as easy to adopt, but might as well try. To be tranquil is to experience calm, gentleness, peace, serenity. To be joyful is to experience happiness, cheerfulness, delight, satisfaction. Ultimately, that’s what I’d like to experience.

Imagine you were to create tranquility and joy – what would that look like? First, you need the opposite for contrast. For example, what’s bright if everything is already at maximum brightness? Yet within the darkness, “brightness” can exist. So for tranquility and joy to exist, disorder and distress must exist. Do I know anxiousness and discomfort? I know them very well. Therefore, the stage has been set.

What am I? Perhaps I am the very embodiment of tranquility and joy. Maybe I am the cosmic reference that’s checked when consciousness considers those concepts. Tranquility and joy aren’t static, their definitions require demonstration. Perhaps my task is to display the totality of the concept. Well, now that the foundation’s been laid, let the tranquility and joy begin!

Dreamers Delight

How to exist within a dream:

Ignore everything you don’t prefer. It isn’t real, it’s just your wandering awareness seeking something stimulating to focus on. Be firm and say “no!”, then take your awareness and focus it on something you do prefer.

You’re just a dream, lighten up. There’s no such thing as pride or embarrassment or accomplishment. There’s no responsibility or deadlines or things-that-must-be-done. These are little tricks awareness plays to heighten the drama.

People are characters in a drama or comedy – your choice. It’s just you talking to yourself, don’t worry about it. “Things” are just props and “places” are just sets. Don’t fixate on fleeting scenes.

“Existential emptiness” is a feeling, ignore it like anything else you don’t prefer. Or use it as a means to remove yourself from a scene. Focus on it and your perspective broadens beyond physical existence. It’s more friend than foe.

You’re not alive, you’re not organic, you’re not a product of chemical reactions or physical forces – nothing is. Things can be whatever the dreamer dreams them to be.

The more you focus on the dreamlike nature of reality, the more perceptible it becomes. Soon enough you’ll laugh at the fact you saw yourself as a tiny creature crawling around a gigantic rock circling an even larger fireball.

Which seems more true: that millions of years of evolution resulted in “TikTok challenges” – or TikTok began within a whimsical dream? The prominence of such significant absurdity reveals the dream. Existence isn’t survival, it’s silliness.

Find something fun to do. Boredom will be “cured” one way or another. Your job is to come up with interesting projects for yourself. If you don’t, you’ll just end up tormenting yourself to alleviate the boredom.

There are times you’ll feel bad and you won’t be able to escape it. It’s kinda like falling into a hole. Step one: don’t dig a deeper hole. Calm down and maintain as much awareness as you can muster. Don’t seek comfort, you won’t find it – concentrate on getting your focus out of the hole. With focus on the outside, you’ll eventually find yourself fully outside – practice patience.

The level of coordination within the world, the interconnectedness, the global trends all demonstrate a common core – the dreamer. Things don’t work out because of coincidence – it’s a story being told. You’re as much the dreamer as anything else. Clean-up your focus, be gentle, appreciate tranquility, seek fun – when you calm down, the dream calms down too.

Dream vs Simulation

I was deep in the simulation camp but ultimately found too many holes. That’s why I’ve switched to a dreamlike explanation of existence. For example, who built the simulation and why? I don’t think there was ever a physical world known as Earth inhabited by ape-like “intelligent” organic creatures. Therefore, the premise of a “simulation” serving as a virtual representation of a physical reality doesn’t work. Is it a pure fantasy game? Well, then what’s the objective? Or is it an open-world do-whatever-you-want type of experience? Well, I can think of a list of things I’d rather be doing, but I’m not. How do I get it to work? I don’t understand the controls – if there are any.

In a simulation, the onus and responsibility is on me the player to figure things out and achieve an objective. That’s a lot of work and can make me feel like a loser if things aren’t going well. Whereas in a dream – hey I just appeared within a vignette depicting a fictional physical experience. I’m a conjured character meandering through streams of dreams – part dreamer, part dreamt. Every conversation is just me talking to myself. The bar is low. And funny enough, the “physical reality” that I experience doesn’t contradict this dreamlike perspective. If anything, it supports it.

But whenever I tried to discern an algorithm for achieving something in the simulation, objectives became elusive and pathways unpredictable. In other words, my physical experience didn’t support my perspective. With a dreamlike perspective, I no longer have to figure-out the world – it’s just a nonsensical dream, of course it’s filled with absurdities. But now I have to reconcile “existential emptiness”. Although in some ways, that’s an upgrade.

For example, if I’ve only ever been a dream – why should my realization of it change anything? Who cares about matter and physical forces – it’s the narratives that provide the substance of existence. “Life” has only ever been about story-telling. The idea of an inhabited Earth serves as stage for an endless array of comedic acts and dramatic performances. The only problem I have arises from an obsession with being my character: I think myself a human. But of course I’m not, I’m just a whimsical dream.

Dream Part Deux

I tried the “I’m a whimsical dream” perspective for about a month. It’s definitely powerful – but not perfect. For example, it’s difficult to reconcile “unpleasantness”. If it’s just a dream, why not dream of something better? Or does this imply that the dreamer himself is unsatisfied? Well, that’s sad. A dream can also imply that there’s no structure or order to anything whatsoever. While it’s true that I see a lot of absurdity in the world, it doesn’t seem chaotically crazy – there’s a lot of intricate detail and interesting aspects.

As far as the power that a dreamlike perspective yields: nothing is of any consequence. I don’t exist. Nothing exists. It’s all just the wavering whimsy of a bodiless consciousness persisting in space. The only dialog is the dreamer talking to himself. Additionally, it’s very easy to accept this premise as true – I haven’t found a logical deal-breaker yet. But, it evokes a feeling I don’t prefer. There’s a loneliness and a lack of significance – the dream came on in a flash and will be over in an instant. It’s an existential emptiness I suppose.

But then I took a break from that perspective… and things got noticeably worse. I guess the “cons” of the dreamlike perspective are still better than the alternative. So now I’m back to my mantra: “I’m not a human, I’m a whimsical dream”. Back to seeing an entire universe blinking in and out of existence. Back to brief vignettes of imagined physical experience. Back to being part fiction and part dreamer. Back to floating through narratives that I can brush-off or appreciate.

With lower intensity and less responsibility, being a whimsical dream is pretty easy. And whenever I lament it being just a dream, I say “well thank goodness it IS just a dream!” A harsh physical experience isn’t for everyone. Become the dream, be the dream, embrace the dream…. “Dreamer, are you there?? It is I, the dreamt. Together let us weave a fanciful tale of comical characters meandering through a set constructed of charming absurdity…”

Request Denied

I had a mildly unpleasant dream last night. But that’s not the worst part. Right before that, I said to myself “Let’s go to sleep and have a delightful dream tonight!” So then I woke-up and thought “What the heck! I thought we were cool bro! I usually don’t have any memorable dreams, yet you’re gonna blatantly defy my request and use it as an opportunity to harass me?!” I feel singled-out, victimized, annoyed, frustrated – just not happy with how I’m repeatedly treated.

I’m considering my options. What’s the optimal way to respond? If I was watching a similar scenario from the outside, what kind of response would I admire? For example, I don’t admire my current response, I just sound like a whiny dork. And it’s not like you can fight back in a meaningful way against life. I suppose the only admirable response is to get zen. Peaceful and calm, just detach and flow. But I don’t get why life can be cool sometimes then all of a sudden becomes a total jerk.

So instead of everyone having a great time, life just goofs on whoever the latest victim happens to be. And I’ve had fun, I’ve appreciated, I’ve experienced good things – but why so many flies in the ointment? Just be cool bro. It’s like Lucy setting up the football for Charlie Brown only to take it away at the last minute, causing his downfall and humiliation. Life is ever tempting with intriguing objects and experiences – then the rug comes out from under. Can’t enjoyment be given freely?

So what’re ya gonna do. Stop taking the bait? Avoid participation? Well you gotta sleep don’t you?? You can’t hide. Well, I suppose those Zen guys were right. Detach, don’t yearn for the traps lined with delectable treats. And if you do step in something? Eh, whatever, cool-beans bro. Hey, go ahead and abuse this character all you want, that’s on you – I’m chill.

Terra Ex Machina

Question: What would a virtual world be like if it was comprised of competent artificial life-forms?

This is a civilization of robots. Their guiding principle is “something is better than nothing”. In other words, the robots engage in activity because nothing would exist if they didn’t.

Since they aren’t riddled with flaws, these robots spend their time engaged in “productive” tasks. Essentially, they make something from nothing. They take the simple and make it complex. They take the complex and make it astonishing.

It’s like algorithmic art. Start with a pixel and apply formulas to its color and position as well as its relation to others. Over time these algorithms can grow more computationally complex and elaborate.

These robots create individually but also collaborate in order to craft bigger, more complicated, concurrent stuff. Something to consider: what would happen if a room kept filling up with stuff? It’d eventually fill to the point of becoming solid. In other words: in a state of perpetual fullness, there wouldn’t be room for anything else and activity would cease. Therefore, in order to maintain the process of creation, the robots infuse a decay-rate into everything – basically, an expiration date.

All sorts of crazy permutations develop as the robots apply algorithms to output. And in order to increase complication, they introduce a lot of pseudo-randomness into the mix. To determine whether it’s art or just chaotic scribbling, the robots analyze whether more complexity can be added to the output or whether it’s retrogressing towards the simplistic. For example, a well-tuned musical instrument can play many distinct notes and harmonize with similarly tuned instruments – but an out-of-tune instrument might muddy its sound into indistinct noise that can’t harmonize or create complex compositions.

In a sense, their guiding principle becomes “coordination over chaos”. Complexity can only increase through ever-increasing coordination. Continuing the example, compare the possible variations in output of a single musical instrument versus an orchestra. But, random flaws that don’t deteriorate the overall output are introduced for complexity-sake. Predictability is simplicity, therefore allowance for erratic mistakes is a necessity.

Additionally, self-aware “output” that can itself create adds a whole new layer of complexity. Creators creating creations that can also create. And these self-aware creations are also confined by algorithms and output-evaluations and decay-rates. Self-awareness adds dimension and perspective and complicates even the simplest of tasks. So much so, that these creations require complex coordination in order to persist.

In the end, everything in this world is striving towards complexity. What begins as strict simplistic order evolves into complex organic growth.