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.

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Grind to Win

How do you want to win? Grind to win, pay to win, have luck to win, or use skill to win? In gaming, I’ve typically employed the grind to win strategy. Not all games offer pay-to-win and I’m not very lucky or skillful — so I just keep at it with dogged determination until I gain so much that I become a force to be reckoned with.

It seems I prefer an unbalanced gameplay — one stacked against me. It’s always the same: I start out slightly over-skilled for the beginning levels, then I get roughed-up throughout the intermediate levels, until finally my perseverance pays off and I achieve a dominance that can’t be denied. But being at the top gets old fast — it’s time for a new challenge.

It’s weird because I quite enjoy the idea of having indomitable power, yet in practice I don’t appreciate it. Whenever I get good at something, it’s time to sabotage the experience or move on. That could be a symptom of masochism, a tendency to thrill oneself through pain and suffering — it’s a nasty habit I’m trying to quit.

Grinding-to-win is itself pretty masochistic: it’s the act of accumulating minimal gains over a long period of time. I want that to change. Now I want to win by skill, luck, or even paying — I really don’t care. There’ve been times I’ve won upgrades in games and I was thrilled by the experience — I don’t mind that route.

I don’t want obstacles on the way to the top — I just want to be at the top and see if I can enjoy myself there — that’s the challenge. I suppose I’ve played this game long enough that I’m sick of grinding. But here’s something weird: although I’ve been grinding away, I’m not sure at what. I’ve certainly been doing stuff, but nothing related to any in-game roles as far as I can tell.

After all these years, I’m not particularly qualified to play a specific role. It just seems as though I’ve been grinding away at shaping my perspective — like a guy on a spiritual journey. And the conclusion of the spiritual portion of that quest is this: lighten up and have fun in the physical realm. But I’m still sitting around wondering what I should do here.

In essence, I feel as though I want to buy stuff and play with toys. Which given the world I’m in, seems to make a lot of sense (i.e. this is an amusement park filled with thrill-rides, snacks, and shopping). I was so serious early on that I couldn’t accept it. I had believed the world to be a realm of gloom and suffering, and fun should be the LAST thing on my mind.

Well, it’s too late now — it seems as though I’ve already done the grinding. Decades have passed and my indomitable status is imminent — I can sense it. The only thing frustrating me is my impatience for what I know will be. Oh well, the struggle was fun while it lasted, but I’m on to new adventures and fired-up about the future: “An exciting future, full of wonder & possibility, out among the stars” — Elon Musk

P.S. Things to Come (Last 3 minutes)

Care Bear Stare

Does anyone actually care about anything? The answer I’ve gleaned from several decades of living here is no, not really. “Eh, close enough” or “Eh, I’m not in the mood today” is a more accurate depiction of what’s going on. Stuff still gets done and life keeps on chuggin’ — just in a lackadaisical way. People care for a little bit, then their enthusiasm wanes as time passes.

So what? Well this is another clue that life is not what it appears to be. If this world was a super-serious place in which split-second decisions and error-free assessments mattered, then we’d all be dead based on how little we care. Since we’re still here, we can safely assume that this world is obviously looking out for us. The fact that we care so little means that caring is not a requirement for survival.

Does that mean we should drop the pretense and stop caring about everything? Not at all. But we SHOULD adjust our perspective and take caring with a grain of salt. Caring to the point of outrage certainly violates the gist of what’s going on here. “Won’t the world collapse without outrage-level caring?” It’s obvious that outrage itself is more problematic than the ever-changing topics that spark it.

As we progress through life, we can plainly see the merry-go-round of reoccurring topics that people claim to care about. These topics alter their appearance in every age, yet we can rely on the typical bunch to show up: “The end is nigh!”, “Change is bad!”, “Because of this, everything’s ruined!”, “People are too different!”. Round and round we go, where it stops, we kinda know (because things keep repeating).

Whereas the proper application of care should come from a more playful perspective. For example, when children play they typically care deeply about the scene they’re in — but when dinner’s called, everything’s forgotten. Playmates go from mortal enemies to the kid passing you another slice of watermelon. To carry the consequences of pretend into dinner is a faux-pas.

In other words, it’s dumb to stress-out over stuff. The world maintains itself, and those within are more like kept-sheep than shepherds. We make horrible stewards — and the world knows this! It’s no secret. That’s why billions of clueless souls can meander around a planet without concern for survival, living complete lives with extensive story-arcs filled with fun and laughter. And if you’re not having a good time: lighten up.

In Lightness Grow

“No! Rich!? It can’t be!!!” Well I’m afraid it is…. For too long have I suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Far too long has this world had its way with my mortal coil, casting it this way and that. A rudderless ship adrift amongst endless waves? Nay! For I shall use the guiding light that leads to safe-harbor. And I shall set an anchor of stone against ye, ne’er to stray again.

For in truth, there is a light that guides those set astray. In thy darkest hour it shines as a beacon to summon men home. From times of old it has resided within the beating heart and rhythmic breath, ever-present signals of a solid connection to the source. Simply close thy eyes and think of nothing, and in that void comes the ancient voice. Anytime it’s wished, empty the mind to let it fill with celestial calm.

And so it is upon this day, that I do declare my dedication to this just cause. Such terrestrial pedantry shall not mar me. Nay, for I shall rise to the heights of heavenly bodies soaring well above the fray, reflecting the brightness of the light that maintains their course. It is in hours such as these, that men’s wills are tried. Does one simply turn to dust under pressure?

Or does one become as a non-Newtonian fluid, strengthening under increasing strain — yet softening when the push is no longer present? The game played here is a simple one: maintain tranquility amidst a turbulent sea. The penalties and rewards are immediate. The sensation of drowning versus the perception of contentment. What begets which is obvious to those amply illuminated — so seek the light.

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.

Complaint Store

I’m going to complain. No, don’t try to stop me. Yes, it’s an all too-common and seemingly superficial complaint. Basically I’m provided with the inclination to spend lots of money, YET I have no money to spend. I have no interest in “making money”, I simply want to shop. So where the heck is my spending cash?

But Rich, money won’t buy happiness!! I don’t want happiness, I simply want to work at fulfilling my wishlist. For example, think of a guy that wants to become an engineer, he commits himself to that goal and eventually attains it. He felt that being an engineer was his purpose and followed the path. Well, I want to buy things.

Is it a stupid goal? Maybe, but it’s the one I’m stuck with. And honestly, if this is truly a consumerist society, then shopping is the ultimate expression of that society — I would be at one with the world. So it’s not a stupid goal if taken in context with where I live. And to be honest again, I LOVE things — people, not so much.

I’m provided with all these shopping-oriented preferences and have a drive to fulfill them, but the content of my wallet doesn’t match up. What gives? And so this mismatch serves as a regular source of dissatisfaction. I basically end up trying to distract myself with no-cost alternatives while suppressing my dreams.

And I don’t see what step I could take that would get me closer to the cashflow I require. At least if I was progressing forward, I might feel better — but my imagination just can’t fathom it. If playing Age of Mythology I would at this point use the ATM OF EREBUS cheat-code and fill my coffers with gold.

Although if I had to put a somewhat positive spin on it, I could say this: If provided limitless resources early-on and without regard, I could’ve found myself in quite the pickle. But having lived a limited lifestyle for so long, I’ve learned the meaning of appreciation (at least more-so than before). So when abundance does shine its light upon me, I will have the capacity to enjoy it.

Sleepless Continuity

I’ve fought sleep for as far back as I can remember. When drowsy, I’d find a way to keep from drifting off, some sort of stimulus or distraction. I don’t know why. Even nowadays when I lay in bed at regular times I can’t remain asleep — I wake up throughout the night. “Huh!? Wha!? Oh, I drifted off… got caught slippin.” What’s going on?

I would hypothesize that fighting sleep is due to a fear of what’s to come. If every morning brings with it a brand-new day, and I distrust this world, then I’d be petrified of the sunrise. I’d want to maintain the continuity of the previous night. Late at night everything settles down and I’m at ease, the world around me is calm and at rest.

But next morning… BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Alarm clock! GO GO GO! The deadline is TODAY!! Your appointment is TODAY!! New challenges begin TODAY!!! Holy sh*t!! Last night, before sleep, things were so quiet, so peaceful, nothing needed to be done, nothing was due. I could sit back and relax in solitude while experiencing a complete lack of engagement.

I would speculate then, that I won’t sleep well until I trust that life isn’t out to get me. I must believe that every morning isn’t a new opportunity for the world to torment and harass me. I must have faith that each day brings with it the gift of a good life. It’s not about finding the right concoction of pills or potions — it’s about developing a positive and appreciative perception of this place.