Self-Propelled

I started playing Call of Duty: Mobile when I saw it on the App Store in early October. I’m currently at level 145 out of 150 — in other words, I’m pretty good. Playing a virtual-soldier comes easily to me. In contrast to that, I’ve played some Minecraft multiplayer games that I’m not so good at — I get wasted by the likes of PrettyPrincess123 on the regular (it’s embarrassing).

I suppose it demonstrates that there’s a specific niche in life that our character fits into. Skills are specific to a particular purpose and do NOT translate to other areas. Just because I’m skilled at ONE genre of video-game doesn’t mean I’m good at ALL video-games for instance. But when I’m in the right genre, there’s an intuitive sense that takes over and leads the way.

As far as I’m aware, I have NOT found my niche in regular life. I’m several decades old and I’m still waiting to stumble into something I excel at. For example, I’m not very good at artistic design, competing, socializing, singing, or dancing. Whereas I’m kinda good with technical topics, gadgets/tools, history, philosophy, war-games. But I’m only kinda good — I’m not excelling to point of having a viable career in ANYTHING.

In the games I’m good at, I feel invested and energized by the process as I’m propelled into success without conscious intervention. As my character does well, I simply watch it happen and go along for the ride. What’s missing in regular life, is this energizing self-propulsion that powers the journey. I’ve certainly seen it with other people and I’ve personally experienced it in games — but for whatever reason it eludes me in regular life.

Without that drive and intuitive knowledge, you can’t simply pick a random career path. It’s pre-ordained based on your abilities and preferences — you can’t sustain something you’re just not into. But what would I know, I’m obviously doing something wrong. Attempting to fix things through conscious-effort would probably get me more lost than I already am. What do they tell you to do when you’re lost? Sit still and wait to be found. But does that apply here? I dunno.

Pay to Win

If provided the fun-funds you seek, what would your daily life be like?

Well for most of my life, I’ve always found a quiet spot and sat there, keeping myself busy in low-cost ways, such as watching TV or doing stuff on the computer — nothing great (but I didn’t mind too much). So to contrast that, I’d like to get a bit more involved, perhaps go out and mingle. But not too crazy of course!

For instance, I’d like to stay at Disney World Resorts whenever I felt like it, just fun little excursions with my family. Walk through the International Gateway, have a napoleon and an eclair at the Boulangerie-Patisserie, watch the fireworks from my balcony — that sorta thing. I’d like to be a high-roller/VIP type, where cast members know me by name and I check-in at concierge-level.

I’d also spend a lot of time researching and buying the latest tech gadgets. I want to be an early-adopter and part of the ongoing innovation in the tech world. Maybe I’d shoot over some emails or DMs and get responses from actual developers. I want to get involved with some robotics programming for example. So essentially I’d be “playing with toys”, using the technology in-depth.

Nothing investor-y, but I’d also like to support creators/makers — basically a patron of the arts. This could include YouTubers, Etsy sellers, photographers, programmers, local farmers, etc. I’d have a portfolio of people whose lives I could positively impact. A bunch of my time would be spent in the cultivation and maintenance of this cadre of creators. It might be as simple as being a Patreon supporter, buying their stuff, or granting them some funds.

I’d also spend time on my home — not maintenance stuff, I’m sick of that. Basically, transforming wherever I live into a dream-home. Collections, decorations, fine furniture, fountains, fresh-cut flowers, a conservatory, workshop, workout space, etc. And of course there’d be seasonal decorations — Christmas being the most elaborate of all!

Speaking of which, I’d like to follow in the footsteps of Santa, giving gifts to folks I happen across — inspiring people to believe in Christmas Miracles, helping them to appreciate Santa and the magic of Christmas. Gift cards, goodies, and gadgets galore! Or whatever someone wishes for, perhaps I can make it happen. Scrooge is a big inspiration as well — I’d like to contribute some Christmas cheer.

So that’s my plan. When I think of how to live my life, that’s all I come up with. I feel like I’m in a holding-pattern just waiting for the fun-funds to kick-in. I even spent the last few months completely engrossed in computer programming and nothing came of it — just hobby-level stuff, no business-related ideas, nothing. And really, I only got back into programming because I wanted to program professional-quality robots for fun. But since I couldn’t afford one, I made a software version.

Tool Search

As previously mentioned, I’m on the hunt for a tool, one I can document or create. But funny enough, that quest leads me back to here. What is the most advanced tool we interact with on a daily basis? A tool so complex that it’s barely understood despite regular use? A tool so important that we can’t live without it? That tool… is the mechanism responsible for our existence. Dun, dun, duuun!!!

That’s right, I’m talking about the “simulation”, the thing that provides inhabitants with the experience of “life”. For the past seven years, I’ve been documenting this tool. Who’s to say I should stop now? It certainly seems like a plausible option: the system is certainly complicated enough to warrant documentation — and the steady stream of new users require up-to-date materials, refreshed for the times they’re in.

In short, I’d be a preacher for the modern era. Instead of deities in the sky, it’s engineers in the ethernet. I’ve come up with this idea many times in the past but never committed. My interests tend to be split between in-world technology and the philosophical underpinnings of reality. Basically: “Wow, cool gadget!” versus “What is this place and how does one get through it?”

Por que no los dos? And yes, I could potentially pursue multiple interests. Either way, I do seem to be more of a documenter than a creator. I like to consume complex topics and break them down into digestible bites. And programming is basically that: organizing complexity. Okay dear diary, that’s where I’m at, thanks for listening.

Finding Goals

As I mentioned previously, I believe life presents us with a constant slew of challenges. And if we so choose, we can pick the domain from which those challenges arise. I’ve been too long allowing my meandering mind to pick stupid stuff, so I’m finally going to focus on a specific path — that path is computer programming. The next step is to come up with a goal to pursue. And in order to do that, I’m going through an exercise detailed below:

Compile a list of people whose careers would potentially satisfy you. These aren’t icons you admire per se, but real people with real careers that seem pleasing to you. So although I like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos — I don’t want their high-flying intensity-fueled careers. Although I appreciate the bigger fish, I prefer to live in a much smaller fish bowl.

But that’s not to say that these real people aren’t famous in their fields. For example, Brian Kernighan co-wrote The C Programming Language, the seminal book on the subject. To play such a large role in the birth of Unix and C is a big deal in the computing/programming world.

Then there’s guys like Guido van Rossum and Rasmus Lerdorf, the founders of Python and PHP. Or Anders Hejlsberg, the lead architect of C#. And Miguel de Icaza of Gnome and Mono fame. Or even Charles Petzold, author of Programming Windows, the definitive book on Windows programming (which I purchased on Oct 16, 1999 according to Amazon).

Now from that cast of characters, what common themes can I discern? It seems that I picked people that were founders and/or documenters of new technological tools. So either my goal can be to create a new tool OR document and explain an emerging tool. Hmm, that sounds like something I can work with.

The next step would be to find that tool. A tool I can pick apart and explain to others in a clear and succinct way. Or, a tool I build myself and present to others as a new way of doing things. So now I must be on the hunt for such a tool, and once found, my goal should be to create or document it. That doesn’t sound too bad.

Search for Success

Did you ever try searching for the thing you’re good at? Like when you see an interview with a super-successful person, and they mention how well-suited they were for the particular path they took. And so you start thinking, “Hmm, maybe I have an obvious talent within a specific domain as well!” So you run down a checklist of traits and abilities trying to ascertain where you fit within the catalog of available professions.

Psh. After several decades, I’ve yet to come up with anything conclusive. The areas which I’ve explored most are: exercise/nutrition, computer-programming, writing. Yet nothing has yet to snowball into a viable long-term career. In each of those domains, I invested YEARS of practice. The most financially successful was programming, but for some reason it just kinda stalled.

Recently, I procured a Windows-based laptop and installed a bunch of programming-related stuff on it. I’ve been browsing around for the most suitable programming paradigm — one that matches my temperament and skill-set. So far I’ve installed Python, Python with Qt, C# and .NET, Roblox Studio, Godot, and Android Studio with Kotlin. I also looked at a few others but passed them by.

I don’t have anything particular I want to make, I just want to “program” and have fun while doing so. Therefore I’m attempting to find an appropriate medium with which to express myself — something that’s powerful but not too complex. So far Godot seems the most promising, it’s a blank canvas backed by a physics engine — but of course its feature-rich flexibility comes with a learning curve. I’d actually like to get into robotics programming, but I haven’t found an entry-point yet.

But anyway, that’s where I’m at right now: trying to find something I’m good at. Of course I was very good at being negative and complaining and scaring myself, but now I’m looking for an activity on the fun-side of life. Something I can invest myself into and experience a return of appreciation. “Wow Rich, great job! Thank goodness you’re around to do what you do!” That kinda thing.

Compelling Purpose

If you’re spending a significant portion of your time simply reconciling with life, perhaps you’re barking up the wrong tree? In other words, maybe you’re out-of-step with life because you’re trying to do the wrong thing — like a dog jumping from tree branches trying to be a bird instead of chasing, biting, and barking.

Of course, that puts you right into the “finding your purpose” dilemma. But perhaps that’s the problem — maybe you really have to take that step more seriously?

The thing about that though, is that I see so many people compelled into a certain path by internal or external forces — they have no choice, they’re simply directed down a path and they readily follow it. I’ve been around for several decades already and I’m not sensing any push one way or another.

And the inklings I do get, just kinda fizzle-out over time. For instance, when I was a teen I was an avid weight-lifter, so much so that I went to college and studied Exercise Science. But as it turned out, I stopped growing taller and could only get mildly muscular — in other words, I wasn’t going to look like a heavyweight pro-bodybuilder. I wanted to be big and strong but it seemed like genetics wouldn’t let me.

I guess I picked the wrong path on that one. Oops. Okay so then I got into computers. I even started programming and went into software development. But oh boy, was that a struggle all throughout. I quit that stuff several times for various reasons. I go back once in awhile but eventually I get so frustrated over something that I quit again. It seems like another dead-end.

After all that, I started writing — it’s been about seven years of tippity-typing away and posting entries on this blog. But it never manifested into a career, not even close. Can you imagine doing something for seven years with ZERO return on investment? No money, no praise, no nothing — I just write for the heck of it. And whenever I try to quit, I come right back to it. Oh. Hm, so I guess I am compelled to write. My bad.

Well there you go, I suppose internal and external forces are actually forcing me down a particular path. Huh, well go figure. No offense though, but this blog is just a collection of thoughts that no one but me cares about. Shouldn’t writing be a career in which I make significant amounts of money and receive lots of praise? Something that makes my family proud to be related to me and a means for me to shower them with lavish gifts?

Yes that’s right, now having realized my purpose, I’m going to complain about it! I enjoy writing too. I like sitting in my office, occasionally glancing out the window while typing on my Apple keyboard as it wirelessly transmits characters onto my iPad. I have no complaints about the writing process — and I always feel like I’ve accomplished something for the day when I press “Publish”. But why so sparse when it comes to external gratification?

You’ve forced me down a path that I’m okay with — got it, that’s fine. But I’m still on the outside looking in — I’m not integrated into the career aspect of life. And that lack-of-career thing has been vexing me my entire life. “So what do you do, Rich?” Uhh…. But whatever, I guess I’ll keep writing and posting since that’s what I’m compelled to do. But just know that my shopping-budget is severely limited and I don’t appreciate it!

I’m sick of getting my friend “virtual presents” in which I pick out something nice, and send her a picture of it. Yes this post is actually about Mother’s Day, which is today. I have to sit there as she prepares breakfast-as-usual with no significant gift to brighten her day. Pitiful. At the very least I had wanted to get her some potted Gardena flowers and a latest generation iPad-mini — but nooo… she just gets a picture and an idiot for a husband. Psh.

At least she had a nice walk around town with her son. They also went over to buy some local honey at the farmer’s market. And like usual, she found what she was looking for — her ability to manifest the mundane is uncanny. Well that’s all for now dear diary, thanks for listening as usual. Signing-off… Rich.

Artistic Endeavor

Most days, I have thoughts that seem to emanate from beyond my mortal frame. I then think about these thoughts: “Hm, that seems interesting or insightful or like a slightly different perspective.” Oftentimes I’ll write the original thought down, forming it into words. I’ll usually publish those words here, as a blog post. Sometimes I’ll fantasize that other people will read what I posted and the message will serve them in some manner — perhaps encourage them to think in a new way — or simply remind them of what they already knew.

And this writing-process is an enjoyable endeavor for me, it’s satisfying. On a well-received post, I might see about 7 “likes”. Although if you look around at other blogs, that’s a comically small number, especially when you consider I’ve been writing here for over 6 years — but I’m fine with that. There will be times when a post only gets 1 “like” or even 0, so 7 is great. There’s no financial incentive either, I do this simply because it’s the only thing I’m inspired to do. Sometimes I fantasize that money will come from somewhere eventually, but I don’t think about it too much.

Obviously I’m slightly vexed by the lack of physical-world spoils. But clearly that’s not a deal-breaker. And I wouldn’t label this commitment to blogging as a stubborn act because that implies I have an alternative activity I could pursue. I don’t. This is it. It feels like my job, a pleasant one. I show up, pick out some ideas that are swirling around the aether, transcribe them, edit my writing, publish the post, and check for any incoming feedback. “Ooh, a popular one today! 10 likes!” or “Hm no likes yet? I guess that post was just for me, well at least I appreciated it.”

Oftentimes it seems like the posts are for my own benefit. Or rather, the benefit of the character I’m playing-as in the game-of-life. It’s as if this blog is an instruction-manual made just for me. I suppose that’s possible. Either way I’m expressing an inner voice within me — and that means I qualify as an artist. An “under-appreciated” artist in my opinion — but to be honest I don’t really like people looking at, or commenting on, my work. I’m trying to get over that though — in fact, if given the choice today, I think I would rather have an audience as opposed to not. Whereas if you had asked me previously, I’d say I prefer a lack of staring eyeballs.

The point of this particular post is this: follow your dreams. At the end of the day, it’s a satisfying way to live. Figure out who you are and what you need to do in order to be your authentic self — then do that. There WILL be obstacles in your way. But it’s the obstacles that make the trek worthwhile. This is an adventure, a quest, a mystery — you’ll need your wits about you, you’ll need to apply some effort, you’ll need determination. But overall this is an enjoyable endeavor, so stress and strain mean you’re heading in the wrong direction. As has been said: “Follow your bliss.”