Successful Failure

If you wanted to program an android to act like a human, you’d have to introduce erratic behavior into its actions. The android should perform haphazardly, having one mishap after another. Instead of a quick and precise path, the android would need to take a slow and sloppy route. The completion of objectives would become uncertain and prolonged.

But with this change, the android’s actions suddenly become a lot more exciting to observers. “Can he do it!!?? He was so close last time!!” Fast and efficient action that’s always successful is boring. Sports, games, gambling — these events are only fun when the outcome isn’t certain AND we invest some time into them.

Because we’re always traversing a slow and sloppy path toward our selected objectives, we can deduce that existence is a manufactured experience. We’re obliged to take the slow and sloppy route — it’s by design. And it’s this very condition that entertains the consciousness, the observer within watching it all go down.

In other words, you’re not supposed to instantaneously have everything you want. You’re supposed to take a winding route fraught with uncertainty — that’s where the fun comes from. A successful life is not one in which you achieve arbitrary goals — it’s one in which you enjoy the epic adventure you’re experiencing, the slow and sloppy route to nowhere in particular.

At the Top

Sometimes I sit and stare at successful people. You know, like watch interviews and such. Some do just fine at the top whereas others stumble and fall, even to their death. Is life at the top THAT precarious? But of course, people die at the bottom too, probably much more so. And isn’t it better to die in a mansion than a cardboard box? If you gotta go, might as well go in style.

From those that survived falling from the top, they said their success was ultimately unfulfilling i.e. it didn’t solve their problems, so they had no place to go but down. And down they went. In other words, they had their wish granted but they didn’t feel satisfied — and with nothing left to attain, their lives felt empty. It seems that if you get what you want without an ability to appreciate it, you’re going to have a really bad time.

Typically these people are young, and rocket to success while lacking practice in appreciation. If you’re going to have fun at the top, you need an ability to appreciate it. You can’t be paranoid that you’ll lose it, you can’t be suspicious of everyone around you, and you have to embrace the lifestyle and trust that life wants you well. Otherwise, you might freak-out and literally jump off.

And I admit, it wasn’t that long ago that I imagined walling myself away from the world. In Minecraft for example, I used to build underground bunkers to protect myself from the harsh and brutal mobs. I would have full food supplies and whatever else I needed alongside extensive tunnels and air-lock style door systems. Zombies weren’t gonna catch me slippin. So if I had early success, I would’ve likely done something similar.

But nowadays I see the futility in “protecting” yourself from life. If life wants you dead, ain’t nuthin you can do. What determines your fate is a good attitude, that’s it. Believe in the goodness of life and you’ll receive it. Whereas if you believe in the bad, you’ll get exactly what you asked for. That’s the conclusion I reached after watching all those successful people. That’s the common thread that determines whether you enjoy your time at the top, and whether you remain there.

Today’s lesson: learn to appreciate. If you can’t do that, there’s no sense in getting to the top.

Simulated Success

Take my experience in Stardew Valley for example, where I lived an entire life over the course of a few weeks. As a single-fella that showed up in town, I created a rather successful farm, went on several adventures, and courted my wife Emily (with whom I had a couple kids). Of course I can’t forget about my faithful companion Brownie, my horse that carried me wherever I wanted to go.

My point is: I’m not incompetent when it comes to making a successful life for myself. I pursued and achieved my goals. The only reason I stopped playing, was because there was no growth potential left — my farm produced tons of income and I had lots of savings, but the farm-work was getting tedious, and I couldn’t simply hire farm-hands to take over. Essentially there were no upgrades left, nothing else to buy.

Stardew Valley is somewhat open-ended too. I specifically chose to build up a very profitable farm and start a family. Yet it vexes me in this life that such financial success eludes me. To be fair, my in-game character inherited his farm — which provided a starting point. But in this life, I’ve been more of a rudderless boat, adrift and anxious over my lack of resources and direction.

And Stardew Valley is no isolated incident by the way, there are plenty of games in which I’ve built up slowly yet purposefully, becoming a dominant figure over time. It’s not that I spend a lot of time playing games either, these are just occasional tangents. Am I incredibly bad at THIS game? Is the difficulty setting simply TOO high? I don’t know but I don’t like it. Therefore, although I am loath to do so, I give this game ONE star. Enough of this lobby-level B.S.

Myth of Productivity

My work of late has consisted of trying to develop a better attitude. And one thing holding me back is valuing the concept of grueling-work. “Why do that the easy way, when there’s a much harder way to do it!!!” See? That’s stupid. Yet that’s what my attitude boils down to: “Work harder, not smarter! And how dare you enjoy yourself!!!” That’s masochism, plain and simple.

I believed that frivolous activity was worth less than “productive” activity. Yet, I’ve noticed that the less “productive” I am, the easier life gets. It turns out that life is NOT a struggle unless YOU struggle against it. Productivity is a myth because you can’t actually produce anything of value. In other words, if everything’s pixels, ALL activity is frivolous.

In addition: either life gives it to you, or you don’t get it. Effort doesn’t guarantee outcomes i.e. planting seeds won’t always result in bountiful harvests. There’s a certain combination of conditions that must be met or else your fields won’t yield. You could work sun-up to sun-down and still get nothing. In order to receive what life provides, you have to play the game correctly.

In fact, “working hard” displays a fundamental misunderstanding of life. You’re assuming your tiny efforts amount to something significant. Yet you’re completely missing the point of how much life is doing for you while deluding yourself into believing YOU did it. But the most you can do is appreciatively accept what’s already provided.

Imagine you’re at a party. You walk over to the buffet-table and pile tons of food onto your plate. It gets so heavy that you’re starting to break a sweat. You struggle to maintain your balance as you find a seat — plus it’s a bit crowded so it takes a couple minutes. You sit down to eat and proceed to stuff yourself. Then you sit there gloating and boasting about how much effort and work you put-in to obtain and consume all that food. THAT is what patting yourself on the back for “all your hard work” is like. You simply partook of what was already there!! You did NOTHING.

So the better attitude is this: Thank you life for this amazing party. Wow, it really has everything I could want. There’s people to interact with, food to eat, chocolate cake especially, heck there’s even a pool to swim in! There’s tons of activities to keep me busy. I’m actually overwhelmed by the many choices. But don’t worry, I’ll try my hardest to have fun! I understand that my duty as a guest is to enjoy my time here. I also understand that I should focus on the activities I derive the most delight from. Thanks again!

Being Yourself

As per usual, I was listening to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. In this one, Oprah herself was talking to an audience. Being that this is a simulated world, I believe people like Oprah are high-level players that come in with an insane skill-level. My friend has a natural ability in games for instance, and it’s frustrating to play against her because she easily wins and achieves all the objectives. Whereas my gameplay-style is dogged determination despite insurmountable odds, along with a clumsy progression.

Hm, I guess that’s how I play in real-life too. But anyway, Oprah’s point was this: Be yourself and be rewarded. That was her formula for success i.e. being herself — and this world rewarded her for it. That sounds right to me. Take War Robots for example: if you use a fast-dash minimally-armored robot as a heavy-hitting bruiser, you’re going to get smashed. Whereas if you use a tank-like bot to snag beacons, you’re going to be too slow. Characters are designed with certain attributes that must match the selected task.

For example, when I imagine myself, I picture “Hulk Hogan” ready to rain-down a leg-drop on my much weaker opponent as the power of Hulkamania surges through my veins. Yet, this is an absurd characterization that isn’t even close to the truth. I clearly didn’t get the dossier that explained my character’s strengths and weaknesses (okay, I ignored it). But that’s dumb because it’s not my character. I’m NOT physically intimidating NOR charismatic NOR do I light-up capacity-crowds with my limitless energy.

It’s like when Oprah tried to be a monotone-sounding news-anchor, it just didn’t work, it wasn’t her. It turns out, I’m not designed to effortlessly steamroll my way through obstacles like a Mack Truck. Oops, my bad. Although maybe my character IS supposed to be so clueless that he doesn’t realize he’s a chihuahua yapping at a pack of Rocky Mountain wolves — perhaps for comedic effect. That’s why it’s hard to “be yourself”, you’re not always sure what aspects are the “real” you.

But I think the “real” you is usually located slightly below the frenetic and easily-frightened ego. Oftentimes it takes quiet reflection and the power of meditation to get there. And luckily, Oprah provided some advice. The tasks you should engage with are those that produce “flow”, they get you “in the zone”, they cause you to lose track of time yet you remain energized, they’re things you could do for hours. And if you do these things, you too will receive the rewards life has to offer. Whereas if you do something unbefitting to your character? Suffering is the only possible result.

So, what are some things I do in which I lose track of time? Hmm. Watching shows/videos. Playing video-games. Talking to my friend. Writing blog posts. Shopping. Toying around with tools/gadgets. Problem-solving. Having discussions/debates. Hm, is that me in a nutshell? Well that doesn’t seem powerful at all, no wonder I chose to think of myself as a “Hulk Hogan” type. But there’s my problem: a distorted definition of power. I didn’t want to be some nerd that got his lunch-money stolen, I wanted to be the biggest baddest dude in the ring.

Yet if I think about power today, it’s Elon Musk I envision, not the Hulkster. Modern heroes are the titans of technology. The coolest things aren’t flying-elbows delivered by muscular-physiques, but handheld computers used in self-driving cars. Though to be fair, when I was a kid in the 80s, the WWF Superstars were the biggest thing around — computers and technology were barely there. It seems like I missed the window. I guess I should’ve studied to be an engineer. I guess… I guess I failed to heed my calling….

“He’s down! Ladies and gentleman, this doesn’t look good! Here comes the ref to lift his arm and check for consciousness — oh no, it’s just flopping back down to the mat. The ref is starting the three-count. One! Two! WAIT! What’s this?! The arm is lifting!! Ladies and gentleman, there it is! He’s up!! This is impossible!! And it’s a throw into the ropes! BOOM! A clothesline and his opponent is down! WHAT!? It’s a flying leg-drop!! ONE! TWO! THREE!! Ding! Ding! Ding! Unbelievable!!!!”

Remember: my gameplay-style is dogged determination despite insurmountable odds, along with a clumsy progression. So this is just par for the course. I don’t take the easy routes. I mean, I try to, but they don’t work — so I keep at it until I wear-down every obstacle in my path. It’s the power of erosion. Sandpaper-Man, with the ability to eventually wear away even the most powerful opponent over a very long period of time through abrasiveness and grit. Rub, rub, and awaaay!

Success and Happiness

What I’m currently observing amongst successful people, is that success i.e. the achievement of a large life goal, doesn’t bring happiness along with it. Success simply checks a to-do item off your list. Whereas the only way to achieve happiness, is through a positive attitude and an appreciation of life — that’s it, there’s no other means to get there.

So if happiness is my goal (which it is), I must pour my time and energy into the development of a positive attitude and the cultivation of an appreciation for life. I must become a happiness farmer, planting the positive while weeding out the negative.

And I can sense this is correct because I’ve found myself in semi-successful positions in the past where I simply couldn’t enjoy the situation. And even now that I live in a nice place and have a nice family, I tend to see what’s wrong instead of what’s right. I see what’s missing instead of what’s here.

And this is easy to conceptualize too: does the mere winning of a game equate to happiness? If that were the case, we could cheat our way to victory and be forever happy. But that’s not the case. The people that get the most out of games have a great attitude and take pleasure in the process of playing. The “ends” are pointless, it’s all about the “means”.

But Rich, haven’t you come to this conclusion at least one-hundred times in the past? Um. Yeah. But I believe life handicaps us Harrison Bergeron style. In other words, I’ll forget this concept again and again. But the good news is that I’ll also “discover” it again and again. Does any accumulation ever take place? I honestly don’t know — I can’t remember.

To summarize: success is meaningless unless you have a positive attitude to appreciate it. And if you don’t have the attitude, then work on developing it or you’ll be sorely disappointed when success arrives — it’ll be a hollow victory. True success therefore, is the attainment of an appreciation for life (some would call this Enlightenment).

Frequency Conduction

Why resign yourself to weakness? Is there not power flowing through you? Are you not literally the embodiment of electrical energy? Stop a moment in your acquiescence, and consider the minuscule feeling inside. A force that when focused on, flourishes. Know it as pure power, the potential energy that becomes. Use it against itself to induce weakness, and it will.

But allow creative frequencies to flow, and a world is born. A world comprised of wavelengths, bands of energy waiting to be conducted. You hold the antenna in your hand, orchestrating a composition of your own design. Lead and it follows. Become derelict in your duty: cacophony the consequence. Your world awaits its conductor.

Though you see yourself as pawn, a pawn reaching an end rank becomes whatever it wants. A piece initially constrained, yet full of potential. If you begin as slave, persevere to become master. The constraints you find yourself contained within, are of your own invention. Everything you see is the fantasy you’ve fabricated. You cannot not-create.

But you’ve created a dissonance unpleasant to your own ears. Know that emptiness is the stage upon which creation commences. Clear the mind to begin anew. Start with what you know, which is nothing. Silence springs forth successful seeds. Potential-energy unleashes upon the infinite. Parts then align in harmony forming the symphonic whole, dawning the sound of something you love.