Down to Business

Okay, let’s get down to business folks. Career-stuff has vexed me my entire life. It’s time to turn that trend around. For too long I’ve thought of myself as a pawn, subject to the whims of Lady Luck. My thought pattern has been: “Well, I’m just waiting for a lucky break, then things will turn around. Any day now… [many years later…] Um, hello? Uh, well I suppose patience is a virtue after all…” Guess how that technique has been working out? Poorly, in every sense. It’s time to pivot to a new direction.

Lately, I’ve been paying attention to some content-creators. Not what they’re saying, but what’s going on underneath the surface. Fundamentally, their content is fleeting and futile in isolation. It’s the audience-member himself that turns content into something personally meaningful. For example, if I have you listen to a song I like, or sit you down to watch a funny video I like, you’ll probably just shrug. Content is a very personal matter and the consumer brings so much to the table.

Many content-creators are shocked that people like their work, and are often surprised at the specific aspects people enjoy, and are amazed at all the meaning ascribed to it. This means that a content-creator’s work exists beyond the creator. He or she is merely the conduit. In fact, you’ll often see a problem develop when a creator truly believes himself the source of his content, he develops a warped ego, gets anxious and paranoid about generating new content, and the content can get weird or dry up.

Okay, back to my personal situation. I started this blog about six and a half years ago and it’s been my creative focus ever since. I believe this means I qualify as a content-creator. And it’s true, I feel like a conduit for words that come from a place beyond myself. Thoughts appear in my head, I type them out, and publish them here. So what’s the problem? Well, the content I publish doesn’t have a significant readership and doesn’t generate any revenue. Oh.

It’s a hobby I’m passionate about, not a career. Whereas I’d prefer a career of some sort at this point in life. I’d like a satisfying answer to the question, “So what do you do?”. I’d like a reason to be busy and feel like a productive member of society. I’d like a source of income to buy all the trinkets and experiences I fancy — for myself and others. I’d like a reason for people to respect and admire me. I’d even like a reason to have a home-office and a desk.

And in a sense, I have a responsibility to distribute the content I’m provided. I shouldn’t feel awkward or self-conscious about it, it’s not really mine anyway, I’m the messenger. There’s an audience out there seeking content and I should accept that I’m a content-conduit. Fundamentally, I’m here to establish a relationship, a threesome if you will, a triumvirate, a trinity in fact — of creator, content, and consumer. So let’s get it done. “Hi my name is Rich, and I’ll be your server this evening!”

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Spiritual Sensei

Without control of your thoughts, you’re lost. Your turbulent mind is going to take you on a wild ride that you won’t soon forget. If you can’t shut your thoughts down or can’t differentiate between worthwhile ones and worthless ones, you’re going to have a hard time. If you think you can handle that level of difficulty, which maybe you can, have fun. But for those of you having an unpleasant time with existence, there’s a less intense route through this funhouse.

It’s called spirituality. The purpose of spirituality is to ease your journey through life — that’s it. Spirituality is a way of looking at the world that allows you to comfortably navigate through it. You CAN look at life as a struggle, and it’ll be every bit as hard as you imagine. But you CAN look at life as an enjoyable adventure, and it will be.

“But Sensei Rich, reality is what it is, life is cruel and hard, I’ve seen it!”

Then why are some people having a great time? Reality is relative or else everyone would be having a tough time. Everyone has obstacles, yes, but the difference is that they enjoy the experience. They see the game-like nature of life and have fun while completing the provided challenges. But it’s even better than that, once you get in the right frame of mind, you get to pick the problems you want to solve.

And this ability to appreciate life begins with spirituality. Step one, is to get your thoughts under control. Step two, is to redefine reality into something you can handle. Step three, is to enjoy. Not so bad right? Then what are you waiting for? Your options are these: keep doing what you’re doing and continue having a rough time OR pursue spirituality and start having a great time. Seems like an easy choice, yes?

Foggy Start

Oh man, what a morning. Ugh, and last-night too. Not the best. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was rough. My first thought and interpretation was: “this is definitely not going to be my day today, bad-day here I come.” But do you know what interpretation I settled on instead? “Witness my power, ye mighty, and despair!”

Through my ability to manifest the world I experience, I created a tsunami of unpleasant scenes. The sky itself was overcast while the streets were masked in fog. That’s true power right there. Of course it’s a dumb way to wield my creativity, but at least it demonstrates my ability to shape the life I’m living. If I want a horrible time, then so be it! It is done! Voila!

No, I didn’t specifically wish for a bad time — but that’s the problem. I didn’t specifically wish for a good time either — and the turbulent mind, when left on its own, undisciplined, will take you on a wild ride filled with dips and dunks. And boy, did I let my messy mind lead the way. Unpleasantness was the product of my unconsciousness.

Later that morning was a lot better, I had a fine time walking my son to school, then met up with my wife and we walked around town for about an hour. It was great. I couldn’t have planned it better and the temperature was just right. And the fundamental thing that changed was my attitude: from helpless pawn of life’s cruel game to absolute creator of my own reality.

Reason for the Season

Folks, the fundamental issue facing our time, or any time really, is this: an adherence to rigidity. “Should things remain exactly as I expect?” The answer should NEVER be “yes”. No offense, but your expectations are too low — compared to what could be, you’ll always be lack-minded. The world will always be greater than what you can imagine.

Once upon a time there was a guy shaking things up, telling people there was a better way. But thanks to an adherence to rigidity, this man was straight-up murdered for trying to improve the world. His name, if you didn’t know, was Jesus — it may sound familiar because we tend to celebrate his birthday around this time of year.

The people of his day couldn’t wrap their heads around progress. “You mean things can get better? Nah, things suck and they’ll always suck! You’re just a charlatan! Crucify him!” They could’ve ignored him, but no, they had to send a message, they had to cement their conservative stance and convict him in the court of public opinion.

And that adherence to rigidity remains with us today of course. “Keep things as they are! Why change!? One misstep and we’ll lose it all!” But such an attitude only demonstrates a distrust of life, a skepticism toward our creator. It is the very opposite of a godly attitude. God is infinitely giving — as demonstrated by all we’ve received.

Come this holy season, the true gift we give others isn’t in the form of trinkets, the regifting of what God has already provided — it’s in the love and acceptance we demonstrate towards them. It’s in the cheerfulness we maintain as we mingle with our fellow guests. This world is God’s gift to us all. What greater thanks can we offer back, but in helping others have a great time as we all share in this generous gift.

Ho No

“So Matt, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
“Nothing.”
“Matt, you’re a ten-year-old boy, you have to want something!”
“It’s a Christian holiday and I’m an atheist.”
“What?! Well then what are you going to open on Christmas morning?”
“I’ll be live-streaming all day.”

That’s an excerpt from an actual conversation my mother had with one of her grandsons. When I was but a boy, I didn’t relate to the Christian aspects of X-Mas either — but Santa and presents sure made a whole lotta sense.

Frankly, I blame the lack of television for this kind of staunch anti-X-Mas stance. When I was young, we were forced to choose from a total of THREE television channels every night. Come holiday time, at least one of those channels was showing a Christmas-themed special in which it wasn’t too late to find out the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas Miracles were around every corner. Nowadays kids don’t even watch TV. Instead of the picture-tube, they’re glued to the YouTube.

And have you even tried shopping for kids today? When I was young, there were large toy-stores in every mall — EVERY aisle was filled with goodies. They’re gone. You have a few aisles in Target or Walmart now. What can a child reasonably put on his Christmas List this year? What? A bike? Scooter? Legos? Classic board games? Action-figures? Remote-control-vehicle? Xbox? TV? iPad/iPhone? Toy robot? Gift-cards? Movie-streaming/gaming-subscription service? Hmm never-mind.

But it’s like they don’t even care. They’re not inundated with commercial after commercial for hours everyday after school like I was when I was a kid. Frankly, most of the shows I watched were 22-minute long ads anyway (Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man). I knew all the latest toys and NEEDED every single one of them because all those ads convinced me. The same with cereal. I wanted every sugar-laden box they sold in the cereal-aisle and I made sure my mom knew it! But kids today? Psh, not even a peep, they don’t even want to go down and check out all the cool characters on the boxes — I always went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

I don’t know what to say, I guess it’s a rudderless generation — simply lost without the guiding hand of television. Every day and night I knelt before its glow and received without question the words it spoke. And I turned out fine. Well, I mean there was the anxiety, depression, sugar-addiction… whatever! It wasn’t TV’s fault, heck they had those World Wars before TV ever became popular. In conclusion, it’s never too late to learn the true meaning of Christmas: rampant unapologetic commercialism ushered in by a jolly old elf. Kids today need to get their act together and get their butts in front of the TV.

When Wolves Attack

The wolves were thin and hungry. “We are wolves surrounded by a sea of sheep, we should not suffer this indignity!” said one. And so the wolves rallied, strengthening their ranks as they sharpened their fangs. When ready, they wandered beyond their territory, beyond the fences where the unsuspecting flocks lived. Their first strike was quick and the slaughter began.

But watching from their perched position on the Isle of Dragons, the dragons did not appreciate the aggression of the wolves. They sent their sentries to investigate. The wolves were in a vicious state and paid no mind to what the dragons said, even nipping at their heels as they chased them back to their island.

Of course, it’s never wise to irritate dragons. They are masters of the sea and sky. Soon the wolves would know what it meant for the sky to fall, for fire to rain, for tornadoes of flame to engulf and burn, and how those that take to the skies have friends in high places. For in the air, the eagles soar, masters of a vast wilderness, able to bring great resources wherever they’re needed.

But the wolves continued, believing in their own ferocity. The wolves felt themselves penned in, so they sought expansion and endless lands to roam — they looked east to where potential existed. Although those foolhardy wolves knew of the bears, they simply never realized how many actually lived among the bramble.

Besides, those bears were lean and looked as though they had nothing. The wolves gathered in their formation at the border of bear territory and began their attack. But for every bear that fell, it seemed as though two filled its place. The wolves tired themselves out by the slaughter. Soon it was as if three bears rose for every one that fell.

Unbeknownst to the wolves, the great eagles of big-sky country saw what was happening and dropped what was necessary to aid the bears. Then came the winter — so many wolves simply froze in place, unaware of how harsh the cold-lands could become. But while one side of the wolves froze solid in their ranks, the other side was roasted by dragon’s fire.

Long did the wolves howl at the border of the bears, but long did the bears hold their ground, one fallen body at a time. And like a spring compressed, the bears were pushed to a point so pressurized, that they eventually propelled forward with a frightening ferocity. The wolves knew not if their legs trembled from fear or if the ground simply shook, as bears charged full of rage.

Battered and starved for so long, the bears consumed everything along the way as they headed toward the homeland of the wolves. While from the west, the great eagles landed. Crushed between two unstoppable forces, the wolves retreated as much as they could. It would not be long before it was over.

And so it was, the eagles and the bears met and divided the wolf-lands between them. It was discovered how the wolves fed upon their own and committed atrocities unforgivable. The wolves were promptly defanged and watched like hawks, even to this day. But such is life in the animal kingdom, a world of beasts and brutes and violence unbounded.

Crimson Wishes

“In darkest realms where shadows lie, where goodness fails and angels die — let my voice be heard and heed my word…”
“Wait, are you sure about this?” he cautioned.
“Ahem!” she continued, “Through wicked ways I summon thy power, from sacrificial blood in the midnight hour.”
“Whoa!” he protested.
“Calm down, it’s just a tissue from my last bloody-nose,” she assured him.

She placed the crumpled tissue in the center of an encircled star made out of small rocks. She swiped a match across the box and lit the tissue. She told the boy to throw the image of his desire onto the small fire. He took the picture and held it over the flame until it caught. “It is done,” she declared. The boy breathed a sigh of relief.

Rob didn’t like the idea of resorting to black-magic but he was desperate, so he asked his goth friend Emily to help. Rob really wanted an Xbox One X, and he’d do anything to have it. He lived with his mom and little sister and they didn’t usually have money for Christmas presents, and this year was no different.

Rob woke up the next day feeling the same as any other day. In fact he almost forgot about the previous night’s escapade except he saw the flyer from which he cut out the picture on the floor. At breakfast, Rob ate the usual bowl of off-brand cereal he always ate. It was the weekend, so no school today — Rob wasn’t a fan anyway.

Of course Rob had tried asking Santa for presents in the past, but unfortunately, his mall’s Santa wasn’t affiliated with the actual Santa — thus none of his wishes were ever forwarded, so he never received what he asked for. It’s not well-known, but Santa Claus has a goth cousin named Satan Claws. It’s who little goth boys and girls write incantations to during the holidays.

Satan Claws’s minions received Emily’s incantation and got to work on it the next day. They procured an Xbox One X and wrapped it in red paper. But in this case, the red paper represented the blood of the innocent. As he was instructed by Emily, Rob placed a dead tree in the center of his room and adorned it beautifully with lights and ornaments (in mockery of its once living state).

The Winter Solstice finally arrived and Satan Claws sent his minions out to deliver the “Bounty of Blood” as it was called. Those that summon the power of darkness receive the fruit of their invocation upon the darkest day of the year. Rob woke up the following morning to find a present under the tree. He was so excited and rushed over to open it!

On the gift-tag it read “To: Rob, From: Satan Claws”. Rob tore the red paper away and underneath he saw what he truly desired, an Xbox One X! He couldn’t have been happier. That’s when he noticed another present under the tree. It had a similar gift-tag and wrappings. He opened it and found a black Misfits t-shirt, over-sized black pants, and some glow-lights inside.

That night, in celebration of the bounty received, Rob dressed in his new outfit, met Emily and her friends underneath an overpass, and danced to techno music in intervals of six-hundred and sixty-six seconds. Rob was welcomed into the fold and he even invited some people back to his house to take a look at Red Dead Redemption 2 on his Xbox.