Behind the Curtain

If you analyze anything long enough, it’ll stop making sense. Take politics for instance, a bunch of people arguing is somehow considered to be “running the country” — and it’s funny how they always seem to enrich themselves in the process. Or take schooling, what the heck are kids supposed to be learning? I know a lot of people that never payed attention in class and they lived rich fulfilling lives — school-lessons never played a part.

So what’s going on here? Obviously, life is a fictional affair. All those “institutions” are superficial structures not meant to be examined. It’s like the set of a Hollywood movie — if you step through the door there’s nothing there but unfinished space. That shouldn’t surprise you of course, because you’ve always known that something isn’t quite right — you just weren’t sure what it was.

And it’s true, this world is a mirage, a mere charade pretending to be something solid. But that shouldn’t unsettle you, in fact you should be impressed and appreciative. Someone went to all this trouble to make you believe that you were in a “real” physical world. A Hollywood set doesn’t just randomly appear by accident. Structures need to be designed and built (albeit haphazardly), and the underlying story must be written.

Well, you’re in that story. Neat huh? Imagine a ride at Disney World, like Pirates of the Caribbean — it’s an immersive experience in which you’re a fly-on-the-wall watching all that pirate stuff happen. You’re supposed to keep your eyes on the pirates of course — but what happens if you start staring at the black ceiling tiles or notice the EXIT signs? You lose the sense of immersion, that’s what. Put your eyes back on the pirates. Oh look, there’s Captain Jack Sparrow!

In other words, take this world for what it is, and don’t over-examine it. Otherwise, that’s a great way to make it seem lame. You don’t attend a stage-play only to stare at a missed button on the actor’s shirt — you’re supposed to pay attention to the story. Likewise, if you’re not enjoying this world, it means you’ve been focusing on minutia that doesn’t matter. You have to zoom-out a bit and take-in the broad big-picture stuff. Your character is on a path and you’re there to experience the story arc.

Life isn’t hard — being an undisciplined audience member just makes it seem that way. It’s like you’re standing up in the ride-car and taking flash-photography the entire time. Remain seated and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. No one makes such an awe-inspiring spectacle of sight and sound just to torture and punish participants — this world you’re experiencing is for your enjoyment. Trust in it.

Advertisements

The Container

Game-simulations are never exact replicas of the world they’re simulating. They’re minimal implementations containing fragments of a whole, typically highlighting a particular activity. The graphics and other sensory data are never as fully immersive as the real-deal. Take Minecraft as an example, it focuses mainly on mining, survival, and block-building. This leads to the hypothesis that whatever contains our own simulated world, is likely beyond our current in-game comprehension.

In other words, a Minecraft avatar can’t fathom what a peach tastes like, or what taste even is. The smooth, non-blocky edges of everything in this world would look alien. The idea of billions of players all interacting on a single server without massive lag would be unthinkable. The concept of a non-infinite globe might even seem claustrophobic to an avatar used to an infinitely expanding world. Yet the many roles and activities and choices in our world might seem daunting to a character that’s only ever mined and slaughtered zombies.

The fact that we’re here says something about the world beyond this one. Maybe that world is too safe and not very intense — perhaps a bit boring. In games, we get reckless don’t we? We go at a higher intensity, we fight things, we die. Or sometimes a simulator is used for pure practice, like a flight-simulator for example. Maybe we’re learning to live as part of a greater civilization. Perhaps we have to earn our way into whatever world lies beyond this one.

The clues of artificiality are everywhere yet we’re too immersed to care. But one thing is for sure: if we’re here, we’re obviously meant to interact with this place in the best way we can. Whether it’s for fun or training, we better get our head in the game and act like we want to be here. Every endeavor is improved by a good attitude. And there’s always the possibility that this is in fact a rehabilitation facility for those that had trouble in the greater society. Either way, accepting and appreciating our position here is the only way to go.

Out of Sync

When you play a video-game, you’re primarily trying to synchronize with the action of the game. Take Donkey Kong for example: barrels are being rolled at your character by a giant gorilla. You must time the controls just-right in order to leap over these barrels. If you’re in sync, you’re successful — but if you’re out of alignment, oopsie, you’re going to have a bad time.

This is similar to the game of Life. If you’re out of alignment, you’re screwed. It’s easy to tell if you’re misaligned: you’re distracted, unfocused on what’s in front of you; you’re apprehensive, too worried about how you’re doing or what’s about to happen; you’re frustrated, things just aren’t working out. Whereas if you’re in sync, you’ll be breezing through the obstacles like they’re not even there.

To do well in a game, you have to remain focused on the task at hand, dealing with right-now. If you’re looking backwards or too far into the future, you’re dead-meat. If mistakes happen, deal with them and let ’em go — stay on track. You need to keep moving forward no matter what. And relax, if you’re too tense it’ll throw off your flow.

Don’t rush things and don’t worry about the route you take, every path ends the same: Game Over. Get comfortable and settle in for the long-haul. Life only seems hard when you’re freaking-out over the mundane — otherwise it’s pretty easy. Life wants you to win, and you will, when you get in sync.

Guilt-free Consumerism

If Life is a simulation, a game-like environment developed for the amusement of a consciousness residing on the outside — and this is an artificially manifested world comprised of flickering pixels, a virtual-reality — then there truly is no consumption or waste-production going on here. Pollution isn’t real, it’s pixels — flora and fauna aren’t real, they’re pixels — people aren’t even real, they’re pixels.

Whew! That’s a load off my mind! What’s the alternative interpretation? That this is an actual physical world and everything I do imparts a net-negative impact on the planet? Under that perspective, if I truly loved the planet I’d bury myself alive to transform into compost as fast as I could — it’s a pretty anti-human outlook.

Side note: be careful of logic because it can lead to some really dark places. Just because something is logical, doesn’t make it right, it just makes it logical. Logical simply means there’s a clear path to a conclusion. In other words: just because a conclusion can be reached through reason, that doesn’t make it a good one.

But where was I? Ah yes, consumerism. In video-games for instance, I’m oftentimes a consumer. There’s no deeper spiritual meaning involved, that’d be weird, it’s just straight-up consuming — and ya know what, I’m entertained by it. Many games deal with an endless upgrade cycle. Gotta get that new sword, the new armor, the new manufacturing process — whatever it is, I have to keep upgrading. And what’s wrong with that? It’s just pixels anyway.

So what’s wrong with that in our own world? The obvious question is this: if constant-consuming and consumerism is bad, why does it exist and why does it occupy such a prominent place in society? Should I not participate in this process? Wouldn’t it be rude to deny such an obvious way to engage with this world? You’re telling me that I was born into a consumer-focused world in order to completely reject it? Why set it up like that then? Why have shops around every corner?

I think it’s pretty clear that the theme of this particular instance of Life is “consumerism”. Stores are our churches, the places we all regularly attend. Those that achieve-at-selling are society’s heroes — those are the names we all know. Henry Ford? Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? Jeff Bezos? Just to name a few. Those are who we reward with our highest praise as well as our dollars.

My point is this: we shouldn’t feel guilty over consumerism, it’s who we are as a civilization. But that’s not to say we should do it without grace or refinement — oh no. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. We shouldn’t sloppily clear-cut forests just to sell some lumber. We shouldn’t pour pollutants down drains and into waterways just to get rid of it. We shouldn’t be using the messiest fuel sources we can find. No, we should be seeking to refine and improve the way in which things are produced — always. We are consumers dammit, not savages! We need a constant upgrade cycle — and that means making things better — always.

Coma Theory

Dear Rich, spirituality-stuff just doesn’t gel with me. I don’t get the god-stuff nor the fragment-of-god stuff. I’m not technology-oriented so Simulation Theory isn’t helping. I don’t understand vibrations or frequencies or lightwaves or whatever. And the lucid-dream analogy isn’t quite workin’ for me. Ya got anything else?

Okay dear reader, try this one on for size. You had an accident and you’re in a coma, your body is currently lying in a hospital-bed. The world you’re experiencing right now is occurring in your imagination. The higher-intelligence that designed your imaginary world, is you. You pretty much based it on the physical world that your body resides in, but there’s a few key differences.

For one, it’s completely non-physical. Because it’s formed in your imagination, you can make drastic changes at-will. If you don’t like how the story is going, you can just blip something into existence. For example: Is the nightly news a little boring? Ha, now look what you did! It’s crazy out there! Or did a character get hurt in your coma-world? Look, they’re miraculously healed!

Second, you’re now a helpful higher-power. In other words, little-you can appeal to big-you for help. For example: little-you finds himself in a bad situation and doesn’t like where things are headed. Little-you says, “Dear Creator Big-Me, please fix this mess!”. Big-you obviously hears this plea because you’re the one creating the story. You take pity on little-you and craft a better outcome with a happier-ending.

Third, time isn’t a thing. Because the world is taking place in your imagination, time is fluid — events slow-down or speed-up as necessary based on however you want to add detail or speed through uninteresting parts. And death comes whenever the story calls for it — it’s not random in any sense.

Fourth, technological limitations aren’t a thing. There are no limits in a non-physical imagined world. Do you want commercialized space-travel to happen? Sure, no problem. Robotic self-driving cars? Yep. Video-phoning across the globe? Sure. How about wishing things into existence? Yeah you can do that too.

Oh, and you know what else dear reader? You might even get bored while imagining a mundane story. You might purposefully add a bit of drama and chaos to your tale — just to make it thrilling.

So there you go dear reader, a different, more physical way to approach spirituality.

Casual Gamer

I’m more of a casual gamer when it comes to video-games. I kinda saunter in, mash a few buttons, do my thing, then go about my day. I don’t like to over-strategize, learn about in-depth secrets, or practice to the point of mastery — who cares. Get in, have some fun, get out.

And as a casual gamer, it sucks when you find yourself within a game that contains a lot of depth — all you wanna do is blow sh*t up but this game wants you to learn all its esoteric secrets. You want to quickly figure out which button does what and start blastin’. Woohoo!! But in a game that requires more information-gathering and thought, you’re like “Huh!? WTF is going on here!!? I don’t get it!”

Well welcome to life my friend. I think I signed-up for Earth after watching all the crazy trailer-footage of explosions and excitement, but the actual gameplay turned out to be nothing like I expected. It’s slow and meandering and its intensity is displayed on a whole different level. And the controls — are just nuts — I still don’t get what I’m supposed to do.

I’m several decades into my current game and I’m still goin’ casual btw. F*ck that in-depth stuff, I ain’t into role-playing bullsh*t. Of course, as a casual gamer in an epic fantasy role-playing game, I spend most of my time NOT interacting with other players. “Greetings fellow traveller, I present to you 8 golden-ingots of the under-realm that I laboriously farmed by way of participation in the leather-guild.” NOPE.

I realize that I’m the one missing out. I get it. Pick a role and play it out. But it just seems so phony and goofy. When I see uniforms for example, I see kids playing dress-up for the day and I’m the adult sitting over to the side, babysitting — and if I have to interact with the scene in front of me, I do so mockingly. I can’t seem to drop my guard and genuinely play along.

But such is life as a casual gamer. Ironically, I think watching gameplay-footage on YouTube is stupid, but that’s essentially what I spend my time doing i.e. watching gameplay footage of Earth-gamers. But actual gameplay footage of an Earth-gamer playing a video-game is just too meta for me I guess.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I manage to enjoy myself here. I sit and commentate on life and all its silliness. I engage in the easy stuff: like eating, watching videos on the Internet, hangin’ out with my friend, writin’ this blog. It’s cool. My biggest worry was that one day life would be like: “Okay, you’ve had plenty of time to prepare, now you’re on your own! Good luck!” Thankfully, that never happened. Life apparently honors the role of casual gamer. Thanks life — I truly appreciate that.

Managing Equilibrium

There are a lot of video-games in which you must manage an equilibrium. For instance, there might be an economy you manage, balancing expansion with maintenance, keeping the people happy as a growing population results in an uncomfortable density and buildings deteriorate — even external disasters pop-up now and again, adding extra challenge to the process of maintaining balance.

We can see that trend in life too, where oftentimes we’re managing an equilibrium — keeping our character satisfied. Food low? Fill ‘er up! Oops, not too much! Feeling lonely? Spend time with others. Yikes, not too much time, not to the point of feeling smothered! Bored? Oh-no, don’t overcommit to a long-term activity!

It’s all very game-like, yes? And if you notice, different people focus on different categories. For instance, some focus on food equilibrium, and some on fitness, and some on social-interaction equilibrium, and some focus on a whole bunch at once. Oftentimes people go through different phases of focus. Yet, everyone doesn’t focus on every category at all times – correct?

This would imply that the categories on which we don’t focus, manage themselves. But life does allow us to manually control whichever category receives our focus. Wanna go on a diet and micro-manage your eating? Go right ahead! Wanna pinpoint and diagnose every little ache and pain in your body? Now you’re managing your health! Good luck with that.

But that means the reverse is also true. If you’re able to remove all focus from a category, then it’ll remain on autopilot. But good luck with THAT! It’s hard to get out of the habit of staring at a category that you’ve been so long invested in. Plus, you’ll likely have to fill that void with a new category to manage.

Or, perhaps you can quit attempting to micro-manage altogether? A lot of that tendency to over-manage comes from fear and a lack of trust. “This needs my expertise applied or else everything will fall apart!” Except you really have no expertise with existence, do you. Without some guiding force keeping things copacetic, you wouldn’t make it through the day.

I bet if you wanted to, you could just “let go” and trust that force completely. Then every category would just seem to work out. The status bars of all the things you tried to control would go from red to green. Your job was never to get in your own way, it was simply to experience the spectacle — a sit-back, relax, and enjoy the show show type of thing.

But yeah you can screw with the controls if you want, that’s within your power. Chaos can be fun. After all, we play those equilibrium games because they’re a good-time. But if at some point you get tired of micro-managing a certain aspect of life, it seems as though you’re perfectly welcome to just stop focusing on it and let autopilot kick on.