Competition Earth

If I was beginner and quickly glanced at the world, I’d assume that the challenges I’d be dealing with would be competitive in nature. I’d have to compete against other students in academics, other suitors in mate-selection, other merchants in business, I’d even have to compete against nature itself in terms of health and longevity. WRONG!

It turns out that my primary challenge here on Earth deals with reconciling my existence. HUH!?? In other words, I’m constantly fighting against life, I don’t want to participate and my mind is barraged with negative thoughts (fear, frustration, pessimism). In the literary-narrative sense, the conflict I experience has only ever been “man versus self”.

No offense, but I think that’s dumb. Why have a giant interactive world in which I spend most of my time trying to get into the groove of things? In the game Minecraft for example, I don’t spend most of my time sitting quietly in a cave, I’m either mining or foraging or building — it’s that simple. So what’s up?

If I did spend all of my time sitting-still inside a cave in Minecraft, what would you assume? Probably that I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously and I’m petrified of zombies and creepers — maybe I’m not appreciating the fun of finding resources in order to build a home and a life inside of the Minecraft universe.

So who messed up? Me or the world? To be honest, I’m not a very competitive person, so if competition was the sole point of Earth, then I’m not that interested. Even in Minecraft, I’m not the biggest fan of full-on survival-mode — it’s a bit too intense and I can only take it in short bursts. I think I’m more of a creative-mode guy: invincible with infinite resources.

I should probably just put in a request to have my game-mode switched to creative. I know there’s the danger of things getting boring once the intensity drops to zero, but at this point I think I’m ready to handle it. My gameplay over the years pretty much proves my inability to deal with survival-mode, so it’s time to try a new approach.

Dear Administrator of the Earth-server, I come to you in humble supplication. I respectfully request my game-mode to be switched to creative. If it’s already in creative-mode, and I’ve been too dumb to realize it, please provide me with a glaringly obvious sign — apparently I’m an idiot. Thank you again for this great and awesome world, it’s truly an impressive feat. I very much want to enjoy it to the fullest and I think this change will help in that regard. Yours truly, gamer-tag: Rich.

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How would you make the simulation more to your liking? What would you spend your time doing?

Consistently predictable weather. “Oh, it’s going to rain solid for 4 days at the beginning of next month? And then a consistent 75F and sunny? Great!”

Consistent political environment i.e. politics is not a sport, simply a means to ensure social/economic fairness and distribute resources. Basically, everything’s run by professionals and everyday-folks don’t notice.

Schools reflect actual life instead of a hodgepodge of archaic academic lessons. For example: interpersonal communication is practiced instead of labeling adverbs and gerunds.

Food and its sources are well-respected. Farmed-animals and planted-crops are treated lovingly and humanely. Manufactured foods consist only of authentic ingredients.

All travel is safe and reliable — crashes aren’t a thing.

People do what they wanna do: gig-economy, popup shops, little eateries, micro-farming, e-sports, hobbies, makers/creators — any transactions are easy and fluid. And some people work for large corporations, doing and making impressive things.

There’s an “Ikea of engineering” that sells engineering kits. They’re not very difficult to assemble, but perhaps take a couple of weeks to put together. For example, they might sell a high-quality programmable robotic dog.

As far as what I’d spend my time doing? I would like to consume media (movies, shows, videos, games), assemble stuff from engineering kits, do some light woodworking, observe innovation and use its output (e.g. new computing devices, new transportation, new media experiences i.e. Virtual Reality), shop for stuff, chat with family, stroll around town, write a bit, and I’d like to sample and devour delicious foods.

Hard-knock Life

Is life hard?

Yes and no. First, “survival” is not a thing we do here. So in terms of physically navigating through life and maintaining the body — life is easy. That stuff is automatic. The difficulty you experience with life is due to your thoughts. If you were a mindless automaton, life would be smooth-sailing — your tumultuous thoughts are what’s causing all the turbulence you’re experiencing.

The conflict boils down to this: your thoughts versus your avatar. IF you could silence your thoughts, you would notice that life gets a whole lot easier. But you can’t silence them, they just keep coming. By practicing awareness and mental-focus, you CAN calm your thoughts a bit, and you’ll notice a definite improvement — but that takes a lot of dedication, which is hard.

So either you wrestle with the output of your turbulent thoughts OR you wrestle with thought itself. Both options are hard. In the first scenario, you’re going to deal with fear and embarrassment and regret and loss — whereas in the second scenario you’re going to deal with a lot of existential stuff like the nature of reality, purpose, meaning, and the origin of everything.

In other words, your thoughts will forever interject irritating ideas. In the first scenario, you’ll deal with those ideas as if they’re valid. In the second scenario, you’ll attempt to invalidate them. You’ll either face your fears or face fear itself — both are difficult options. UNLESS… you’re able to be super-chill about all this — if you can do that, then life is just plain easy.

But can you do that? Can you simply surrender to life and let it happen? Can you stop opposing and complaining and feeling indignant over every little thing? In one sense, it’s the easiest thing you can do: just stop fighting against life. But in another sense it’s the hardest thing you can do: trust, and get outta life’s way.

Bad Stuff

But Rich, if the world is a benevolent experience, what about all the bad stuff that happens?

From a simulated or dreamlike perspective, bad things aren’t really happening. EVERYTHING you see is flickering pixels. Dark red blood isn’t an actual substance, it’s simply RGB (139,0,0) located at a particular x,y,z coordinate. And the chaotic scenes you perceive are scripted drama that someone is fantasizing about.

Not everyone you see is a fully-fleshed-out character. People are potential, and that potential is not always realized. In other words, there are many dreams that aren’t dreamt to fruition. There are supporting characters that are necessary in a particular scene, but there’s no reason to stick-around after that. They’re like a shopkeeper in a video-game, just a temporary plot device.

In every “good” video-game or movie, “bad stuff” happens — “bad stuff” is necessary to make the gameplay or plot more interesting. In that sense, “bad stuff” isn’t bad at all — it’s what excites and energizes the audience, it’s what underlies all our engaging entertainment. Heroes can’t exist without “bad stuff” happening.

And by the way, if unequivocally “bad” stuff happened all the time, the world and everyone on it would’ve been annihilated a thousand times over by now. So instead of “bad stuff”, let’s just say that “dramatic stuff” happens. Basically, we sit passively while watching the drama unfold before us — all in good fun of course.

So to sum up: bad stuff doesn’t happen, dramatic stuff happens for the purpose of engaging our attention and providing endless entertainment.

Animal to Avatar

So basically, I’ve gone from a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape to an invincible avatar within a simulated world. Neat huh?

In the first scenario, I was always worried and had a horrible time. I believed the world to be a torture chamber in which I was simply waiting in line as my time-of-doom approached. The uncertainty of “how” and “when” was part of the torment. Basically: “Life sucks, then you die.”

Whereas in the second scenario, I’m a carefree sprite just wandering through fantasyland. Existence is a benevolent experience designed for my enjoyment and the world is a fulfillment generator in which dreams come true. Basically, life is a gift I’ve been generously given.

At this time, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the second scenario. Over the course of a few decades, the falsity of the first scenario has been proven to me. There’s no denying it. Yet the second scenario doesn’t quite feel true. Logically and evidence-wise, it’s true beyond a reasonable doubt — but “feeling-wise” it seems a little off.

For so many years, I was heavily invested in the idea that this is a physical world ruled by a mixture of natural-selection and random-chance. I was certain that this world didn’t care one whit about me, that I needed to struggle in order to survive, and that a lack of vigilance on my part would result in certain death. This was a very scary perspective to maintain.

But because I was so scared, I inadvertently proved that the pessimistic perspective was wrong. By hiding away in fright, I proved that doing nothing can result in something. If the world truly didn’t care, I should’ve wasted away — but that’s not what happened. The world was looking out for me and made sure I progressed in small palatable ways.

So because I’m still here and because I’m doing well DESPITE all that I refused to do, it proves that existence is a benevolent experience. For instance, I refused to develop a career or get a job, I refused to go out and meet people, I refused to leave the house, I refused to get involved in stuff, and I certainly refused to have a good attitude — I basically refused to participate in life. YET here I am. HUH!!??

Not only am I here, but I’m doing quite well. WHAT!!?? Based on my previous perspective, that outcome should be impossible. Therefore, I’ve proven that perspective false. I have no other option but to realize the truth of my situation: the world not only knows of my presence but is actively ensuring my well-being.

Of course that makes me feel like an idiot. It’s like showing up at a surprise-party thrown in my honor and I go around reprimanding each and every guest for scaring me when they yelled “Surprise!”. Oops. And what’s worse, is that I still treat them rudely because they shouldn’t have scared me like that.

So that’s where I’m at: trying to get over myself and my bad attitude. I know this is a great party and I know I should be enjoying it, yet I still have lingering suspicions and a bit of contempt. But at least I realize that it’s MY job to get rid of my negativity — I get it now. I had no right to be offended or scared or anything at all. I should appreciate the party, stop complaining, participate, remember that I’m an invited guest, behave appropriately, and treat everyone else with respect.

Invincible Deduction

Could invincibility be real?

If the world is a simulation or a dream, then yes, the concept of invincibility could be true. In the case of a simulation or dream, my consciousness likely resides outside of the world I’m experiencing. At some point, my consciousness might even imagine the death of its in-world avatar — but so what? My consciousness would likely begin a new game or have another dream. Eventually, every game or dream reaches its natural conclusion (or the player/dreamer gets bored) and the game/dream ends.

Although the world is made to feel like a concrete physical reality, it can be deduced that my in-world character is being helped along the way. Either my consciousness, or the world itself, is purposefully keeping me alive so that I can prolong my experience here. If this were an actual physical reality, I would’ve contracted a deadly-disease or tripped and cracked my skull or simply starved to death already — in other words, physical survival is not something I deal with here.

In one sense, invincibility is the most logical conclusion at this point. In my own personal example, I’ve been alive for several decades and I’ve literally done NOTHING to ensure my survival. Well-prepared food just happens to appear everyday, I’m living in a nice place, I’m well-dressed in appropriate clothing, I’m utilizing advanced technology to type these words, the weather’s warm and inviting — all these things are gifts given to me, I’ve done nothing to earn them.

Perhaps I’m a clueless moron that fails to appreciate everything that’s done on my behalf — but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m able to thrive without any effort on my part. The only hardship I’ve been afflicted with, is the inability to appreciate all of these gifts. And that makes sense of course: who is the only enemy of the invincible? The self. And it’s true: my greatest enemy is myself and my greatest obstacle is trying to feel gratitude for the gift of existence.

So at least from my perspective, invincibility is real. Despite my complete and utter inability and ignorance, I haven’t lost — in fact, I’ve only gained as I’ve wandered through life. And the only thing that has come close to defeating me, is myself. Yet why would I want to defeat myself? Why should I reject this world? Why not simply appreciate existence? I should really stop trying to sabotage my experience here — it’s a dumb thing to do. And seeing that I’m actually invincible, there’s nothing to be scared of.

Invincibility and Illness

What is illness to the invincible?

Just so you know, it’s not easy being invincible. If I designed a game in which you were guaranteed to immediately win every time, you’d tell me I need to rebalance the difficulty-level of the game. Without an ability to manufacture your own fun, you’re going to get bored very quickly — and boredom is a torment we simply cannot deal with.

So when faced with boredom, we readily choose to torture our in-game character as a means of distraction. This torture often takes the form of fear, frustration, humiliation, lack, attack, ache, or illness. ANYTHING is better than boredom — and the torture we inflict on ourself proves it.

When you’re sick, you’re invited on an adventure of errosion and recovery. You’re suddenly very interested in every little thing going on within your body. You’re carefully moving in certain ways so as not to exacerbate the pain. You’re researching what might be wrong with you. You’re questioning your life choices, you’re wondering what the afterlife is like, you’re forgiving people that previously wronged you. This adventure is all-consuming, you can barely contemplate anything but the discomfort you’re feeling. How exciting for you! And you’re certainly NOT bored, not by a long-shot.

And how fun it is to lose once in awhile, to prove to yourself that you’re NOT invincible. “See! You ARE weak!!!” But alas, it’s not true. You can’t lose. Illness is just a silly game of pretend you’re playing. YOU sick!? Cut it out already. When you tire of this particular bout of “sickness”, you’ll “recover” just like always.

What is illness to the invincible? A dumb hobby. It’s a cheap thrill used to evade boredom. Being invincible doesn’t mean you do everything perfectly, it just means you can’t be defeated. Although you don’t need to apply skill toward winning, you still need to apply skill toward finding-fun. So instead of torturing your in-game character, you should seek out high-quality ways of entertaining yourself through creativity, industry, relationships, service, etc.