Under the Tree

I must say, there’s an inordinate amount of monkey-business going on lately. Or is there? If I subtract all my negative-thoughts from the equation, things have pretty much proceeded normally. If I simply stay focused on my own day-to-day activities, nothing’s really different. It seems like a lot of people are experiencing change, but why should I focus on things outside my sphere of influence? “If surrounded by darkness, should we not seek the light?”

When I think of American history for example, I tend to think of bad stuff. But if I think of a runner in a race who hurt his foot, I don’t focus on his sores and tell him he should quit, I focus on his drive and determination to persist despite his injuries. “Look at him go!!” In the same way, despite its sores and flaws, America persists in its grand experiment. Should I not cheer as it goes ever toward the goal of securing the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all? Do I “boo” when it stumbles — or should I shout words of encouragement?

Dark times are but shadows residing in the mind. There’s always a better thought to think. To exterminate negative rumination as it infests the mind is the noblest act we can perform. Here be dragons, dark beasts that terrorize the quiet country-side of men’s minds, vermin to be slain by brave knights who dare tread past fiery onslaught. Claws do tear and fires burn, but we the Lighthearted Knights take up arms to conquer our own negativity — for pessimism is the only enemy we ever face.

It’s Buddhism 101, you see. In the end, the Buddha conquered his own propensity for pessimism and thus achieved enlightenment, freedom from the fetters of fear and negativity. And that’s IT. For those on this path, there is no other way. It is through the harnessing of raw and untamed thought that we find peace. Day in and day out, THAT is our profession, the practice we must perform. The anvil upon which we strike is the mind, hammering glowing hot thoughts into sharpened steel. It is through sudden stillness that we quench our work, from a flurry of thought to none at all.

And so I sit in the shade of the tree, whittling away rough edges, shaping and smoothing, forming thoughts into delightful arrangements that evoke joy.

Ennui On We

It’s my belief that greatest threat to humanity is ennui. In other words, existential boredom. In an attempt to alleviate this boredom, mankind invents all sorts of problems to contend with. In my life for instance, I’ve been trying to balance intensity and stillness. There’s either too much or too little — things are too serious or too frivolous. Like Goldilocks, I’m ever searching for “just right”. For most of life I’m either scared or bored.

Even after a few decades, I’m STILL trying to get it right. I’m trying to find low-intensity forms of entertainment, things that don’t rely on fear, frustration, anger, sadness, etc. to stimulate and hold my attention. I tried computer programming for example, but found it much too frustrating. I’m also trying to quit the classic game of “worrying about money” — I really think I’m getting close on that one. On the other end, I’m trying to get into woodworking as a hobby, but it takes effort to keep from getting bored. I tried playing a musical instrument for instance, but there just wasn’t enough excitement to sustain it.

Whereas I’ll light up like a Christmas tree when I hear some monkey-business going on. I’m trying to quit that though. Like junk-food, it leaves me with too much of a tummy-ache nowadays and I want no part of it. Maybe my tastes are maturing… or perhaps I’ve been beaten into submission, not sure. I was so good at pessimism and criticism, and they kept me endlessly entertained. Now optimism and appreciation are the arts I’m trying to master — I feel like such an amateur though. It’s so easy to tear something apart and so foreign to build it up.

Well dear diary, that’s where I’m at right now: mid-life and finally trying to put an end to my immature approach to existence. I’m attempting to go from scared and bored to appreciative and enthusiastically engrossed. The greatest hardship I’ve ever faced is reconciling with life, just trying to get a grasp on what’s going on here — and on top of that, finding the right balance of engagement. Some day soon I hope to taste that perfectly warmed porridge and sleep in that comfortable bed.

LOA Retooling

In order to help curb my negativity, I’ve been following the techniques described in the book The Law of Attraction (2006). It’s been about 6 weeks since I purchased the book in late January and the results aren’t there yet. I think I’ve been getting too specific with my “Creative Workshop” items. I’m apparently too much of a Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) when it comes to the things I want. “Don’t care how, I want it NOW!”

It’s like episode 12 in season 10 of South Park, “Go God Go” (2006), when Cartman is too impatient to wait 3-weeks until the Wii gaming console is released — he consequently attempts to cryogenically freeze himself in the snow until the release date. When I pick out a specific item, I want it NOW!! For example, I’ve been focusing on the Sjobergs Scandi Plus woodworking workbench. I’ve purposefully imagined it everyday, but now I’m just getting bratty about it. The same goes for a well-functioning body — why isn’t it performing perfectly!?

Initially there wasn’t a problem, I felt happy picturing myself sitting at the beech-topped bench, turning the vises as they clamp my latest project. But it seems that anything specific just can’t come fast enough. And as the book says, I’ll have to “go general” and stop getting too specific. Similarly with health related matters, I was under-the-weather not long ago and had difficulty reconciling my weakened state with my desires. So instead of browsing life for things I want, I’ll simply have to pick the best thoughts in every moment.

No more browsing tool catalogs, real estate listings, vacation resorts, and no more imagining big bank accounts or improved sleep. I’ll just have to think of things like “joy” and “contentment”. Psh. Yeah I’m a bit disappointed. It felt like leafing through the Sears Wish Book of the 1980s and making a list of all the delightful goodies I wanted. Now it’s just “being happy” without a tangible reward. That sounds like Buddhism. Forget material possessions, focus on achieving a state of bliss by calming the chaotic mind.

I was hoping to see myself integrating into the world through the intentional creation of my desires. Now it’s back to retreating from the physical and focusing on the intangible, which is where I was at. And if you can’t tell, I’m STILL being a brat about it. Therefore, I’m clearly not able to handle “wanting”. Yes, the book mentions the possibility of a rough transitional period, and maybe this is it — but it definitely feels like I’m doing something wrong.

So instead of imagining a Sjobergs workbench for example, I’m going to imagine myself having the knowledge and ability to consistently apply a “higher” perspective to my everyday life. I’ll see myself realizing my bratty behavior and bad attitude, helping myself to redirect focus onto better thoughts. I’ll imagine appreciation and comfort, confidence and contentment, lighthearted amusement and an overall enjoyment of life. We’ll see how that goes.

Mischievous Monkey

Does mischievousness exist? And if so, how do I deal with it?

I believe without a doubt that mischievousness exists. In other words, there’s an underlying monkey-business that pervades the world — a teasing, a poking, a prodding just for the fun of it. But I don’t think it’s cruelty-based, I think it’s caused by existential boredom. And since we’re in a simulated-reality or dream, there really aren’t any consequences to this teasing — it’s just a prank bro.

I think the only remedy is to label it as monkey-business and move on. In other words, identify it as mischief meant to provoke a reaction, then stop participating in it and switch to something you consider more satisfying. Perhaps playing along with some lighthearted histrionics might help too, letting everyone know that you’re on to their monkey-business. “Oh no!? Really!? Oh gosh! That’s so horrible!!” Then drop it and do something else.

My guess is that when the monkey sees you’re not a fun target that’s easily provoked, you’ll see less of his flinging feces. But consider this: the monkey that’s constantly harassing you might be you. I’ve certainly played enough video-games in which I’ve “tested” my character’s limits just for fun. YOU might be the one who’s bored and dreaming up shenanigans in order to add excitement into a boring life. Therefore, make sure you’re always engaged in some sort of satisfying pursuit.

Captain on the Bridge

I’ve always had the feeling that circumstances are beyond my control. It makes me uncomfortable because I don’t know how anything will turn out. And if I don’t know whether something will work, why bother investing myself in it? So not only have I been frozen by the fear of uncertainty, I’m also stalled by the idea that the unpredictability-of-outcomes makes all effort futile. Sounds like a recipe for a whole lotta sitting still and watching the world go by (Spoiler Alert! It is).

Because I’m on a Negativity-Free Diet, I need to get rid of that feeling of being a victim, forever at the mercy of a cruel world. I lack any sense of confidence and surety that I can accomplish most tasks. My preceding thought is typically: “Ehh, hopefully it’ll work out…?” And based on the Law of Attraction, I therefore attract a seemingly haphazard outcome. If you recall, I recently adopted the tenets of LOA as a tool to curb my negativity.

I need to instill in myself the feeling of being-in-control and the idea that there’s a certainty-of-outcome to whatever endeavor I perform. Just thinking about it now, the world obviously works with way more certainty than I typically assume — I’ve obviously been irrationally distrustful. So for the time being, I’ll keep the irrationality, but switch over to an irrational trust-of-life and an extreme confidence in my abilities.

In practical terms, this means I need to think thoughts that inspire feelings of proficiency, seeing myself competently accomplishing tasks from beginning to end, imagining scenes that instill a sense of mastery, of being in control. I need to sense a surety of outcome, maintaining a faith in my skills to sculpt life into a satisfying work-of-art. Whenever I sense hesitation and doubt, I need to re-imagine the scene as one in which I am in complete command.

Persistent Focus

Picture a lack of persistent focus this way: You want to thread a needle in order to sew something up. You focus very intently on the end-of-the-thread and the eye-of-the-needle, lining them up about a half-inch away from one another. You can see with just a bit of forward movement the thread will easily enter the eye. The goal is so close and the conclusion is obvious. Now on to something new! You look out the window at the rustling leaves on the nearest tree. Your hand with the thread moves in the direction of the needle and it misses.

With whatever you want in life, you can’t simply “set it and forget it”. You have to see it through, keeping your focus on it the entire time. This isn’t “babysitting” it, you’re engaging with it. You WANT to watch it happen, seeing it unfold before you — that’s the point of doing it. When you watch a movie for example, you’re not simply skipping to the end, you’re watching the events progress and conclude. In the same way, don’t just devise a goal and wish for it’s hasty conclusion, maintain your focus in an interested way.

If you’re not showing interest, why bother finishing it — right? It’s like playing a game on your phone in the middle of a movie, who cares how the movie ends, you’re obviously not interested anymore — stop the movie and move on. Similarly, if you’re not following your goals along and taking daily interest, why bother seeing them through to the end, you’re not that interested. This is why you need persistent focus in order to get results. If you simply say: “I want a better life!” and then you do what you usually do, it’s not gonna work obviously.

You have to maintain a persistent focus on this goal of yours. You have to delve into it. What would you actually change? What parts need improvement? Is anything already good as-is? What’s the better stuff you’d want to experience? Can you provide some details, perhaps dig-up some examples? What would your improved daily schedule be like? In other words, you should focus so much and so often that the details of your goal become ingrained in your thoughts. With this level of considered attention aimed at your goal, you’ll surely thread the needle.

Finding a Foothold

I spent most of my life just trying to get a grasp on what’s happening here. I became conscious in the 80s and was freaked-out by all the high-hair, garish makeup, outlandish clothes, strange music, bizzare gyrations, unpalatable food, tedious routines, random violence, and cheesecake. I didn’t get it, was it cake in the form of a pie? And why cream-cheese!? That stuff belongs on bagels.

I honestly didn’t understand the setting I found myself in. I couldn’t deal with the life I was living. What am I supposed to do here!? I spent a lot of time watching TV, which didn’t really explain anything, in fact it probably made things worse. I would spend the next few decades completely lost, trying to get a foothold on ANYTHING. I was seeking solid truth, but I was in Wonderland.

Looking back, it’s painfully obvious that this is not an objective physical reality that I’m experiencing. This is in fact a highly subjective virtuality that I’m experiencing. I think the closest analogy would be a dream — and I’m the dreamer. And the things I think about and focus-on flow in and out of my experience. There’s a narrative for sure, but I’m the one telling it.

I’m at mid-game now and it’s about time I figured this out. I’ve been so unfocused that I’ve been seeing the most haphazardly slapped together world I could imagine. It’s truly embarrassing the stuff I’ve been giving all my attention to. Okay, no more of that nonsense, it’s on to bigger and better things. Everyday, and all throughout the day I’m now focusing on the stuff I actually WANT to experience.