Seeing is Believing

Dear Rich, what if magic ISN’T real, what if random-chance IS the only determiner of outcomes, what if the world IS a harsh and brutal hell-scape in which you must struggle for survival? What if you’re only deluding yourself?

Well dear reader, unfortunately the cat’s already outta the bag. When I was younger, those possibilities had some plausibility, but I’m too old now and I’ve experienced too much. Wishes work, random-chance is a fictional mechanism, and the world is a well-functioning fulfillment factory. And I did delude myself for several decades in fact, I kept telling myself how scary and horrible the world was. Now that I’ve seen otherwise, I can’t go back.

Yes I still see some nasty things, but those scenes are just remnants of a reforming masochist. There’s no doubt that you’ll see whatever you want to see in this world — it’s a fulfillment factory, remember? I can still conjure up gloomy days, but beyond the clouds I can sense the sun is always there, shining bright as always. Whenever I want, I can let go of my character, I can stop focusing on my story and become the watcher. From that vantage point, the intensity resets — I return whenever I’m ready.

The idea of random-chance is a scare-tactic used to make life seem more thrilling and dangerous. It’s fun for sure, but it’s only a mechanism of make-believe. It’s great if you’re a masochist attempting to evoke a sense of suspense and potential doom.

Logic and the lack-of-magic is a limiting-mechanism, an artificial obstacle — this concept adds constraints to make accomplishment seem impossible. But it’s just a story-telling gimmick to make life appear harder than it is — which increases frustration (a favorite feeling of masochists).

The idea of struggling within a harsh world is another scare-tactic. But if you examine the concept closely, it’s such an easy facade to see-through. In my own life for example, obviously my cunning, skill, and vigilance aren’t the reasons I’m still alive — that’s absurdly comical. So anytime I go into “survival mode” I laugh at myself — me versus the world is a silly concept. My existence is sustained by a benevolent author that resides beyond my character — and that’s a fact.

I tried to trick myself into believing otherwise — and I was good at it, so good in fact, that I eventually scared myself awake. I was so full of fear and worry and despair that I finally lost all energy to sustain the deception. I was so despondent that I shut down. And without the energy to maintain the contrived concepts of random-chance, logic-based lack, and the need for struggle, I finally saw life without the lens-of-negativity. Without all that self-imposed pessimism, life seemed okay.

But of course, a good masochist isn’t going to give up that easy. It took many years of back-and-forth to finally get to the point of truly grasping the benevolent nature of existence. The proof was all around me of course, but I stubbornly refused to accept it.

So dear reader, this isn’t a mere “belief” I have, there’s no “faith” involved, I’m not “hoping” these things are true. The life I’m experiencing right now is literally full of magic, it’s lacking in random-chance, I’m not struggling, and the world is actually a pleasant place to live.

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Magical Morning

You talk a good game, and it sounds like you’re attempting to crawl out from beneath that crushing rock of negativity, but are you actually having fun?!

Okay, okay, fair question, well check it out. Today, I had a Magical Morning with Michelle. We went for a walk at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just a walk, simply strolling around for the fun and fitness. It was the perfect weather too, blue-skies and temps in the mid-60s. Since we were pretty early, the parking was perfect — from our car we simply walked to the front gate and waltzed right through, no waiting anywhere. Yes there were crowds, yes some people were waiting, but not us — it was a smooth flow right through. That’s magic.

The sights, the sounds, the smells — it was a pretty day at the park. I could smell the buttered popcorn cooking. We wove through the throngs of bustling tourists, delighting in our aimless jaunt — no ride-lines to wait in, no reservations to keep, just out and about enjoying the atmosphere. It didn’t take us long to traverse the entire place, probably about an hour, we walked a couple of miles in total. We did stop to watch the Stormtroopers march at one point. And I’m glad they’re putting in the Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars attraction, it should add a bit more space for walking.

How’s that for fun, huh? It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea, but it sure is mine. Walt Disney World was my childhood happy-place and it’s good to be back. I tried living here a decade ago but I just couldn’t accept it — my pessimistic, lack-minded, masochistic tendencies flared up and I had to leave. But now that I’m relinquishing pessimism, abandoning lack-mindedness, and discarding masochism — I’m feeling a real sense of enjoyment here. It was even my idea to go today, it just seemed like an enjoyable way to spend the morning.

And all it took was several decades of self-inflicted suffering to finally get to this point! Not bad! Imagine being so stubborn that you refused to see the world in any other way than a harsh and brutal landscape hell-bent on your destruction. I was convinced that life meant pain and hardship, that random-chance was the only determiner of outcomes, that all this was a futile experience not worth having. Oops. But I suppose that’s just my story-arc, the typical Scrooge-like character that couldn’t see the goodness that surrounded him. I’m finally waking up to a new and glorious day in which I see the glistening greatness of this world.

Procuring Pain

Dear Rich, why am I a masochist?

Well dear reader, you seek out pain in its various forms because it’s an easy way to feel alive. So not only are you a masochist, but you’re lazy. You use fear to make even the mundane seem thrilling, you use frustration to make your blood boil in every endeavor, you actively suppress your own enjoyment of life, and you use hurt to sour every experience.

You and I both know you can do better. First, let’s accept that you’ve been purposefully torturing yourself for lo these many years. Cheap thrills, I get it. But that kind of fun doesn’t last forever, you need something more meaningful. And that “something” is already inside of you waiting to come out, yet you’ve been preventing its development.

Second: if you want to stop the pain, stop hitting yourself. The pain you’ve been feeling is self-inflicted. Third: when you cease seeking the cheap thrills produced by pain, a more meaningful path through life appears to you. From there, you do you. THAT’S the person you were meant to be, the one that surfaces when you stop your stupid hobby of humiliation.

And the best part, my dear lazy reader, is that you simply need to stop your pain-producing efforts. That’s right, you need to become even lazier! Just sit there and watch for now. Observe what you’re doing to yourself — then the absurdity of the act will cause you to stop. Once you see the torment happening in real-time, your own sense of decency will kick in.

Masochism Maelstrom

Note: in this context, masochist means someone that seeks out pain on purpose.

You might be a masochist if…

You constantly provide yourself with content to complain about e.g. reading the news, browsing an infuriating website, communicating with certain acquaintances, watching shows that make you feel bad, etc.

In your mind, you dredge up unpleasant scenes from your past or you imagine an unpleasant future.

You keep performing an activity despite poor performance, all while maintaining a losing-mindset, causing you to fail at aspects you would normally succeed at.

You avoid things that might actually be fun for you.

You insist on doing things the hard way.

You intensely focus on minor aches/pains and other discomforts, allowing them to influence your life and daily routine.

Is masochism just a personal preference that should be honored?

No, it’s a low-quality way to spend your time. It’s like eating junk-food instead of consuming something nutritious. In the long run, you don’t feel satisfied by the pain, you feel empty and incomplete.

So how does one stop being a masochist?

You’ll need to replace it with something better, something more nourishing. The first step is to recognize that you’re a masochist and that you’re done with the pain-loving lifestyle. Next, you’re gonna wanna take some time to think about the painful and frustrating life that YOU have been putting yourself through. You sadistic sicko. Next, you’ll need to seek out new ways to spend your time. Since you won’t be torturing yourself any longer, you’ll need some new hobbies.

This will take some effort, but you can do it. There’s creative pursuits, pleasant activities, lighthearted entertainment, loving something, connecting with others, celebrating stuff, being helpful — whatever incites delight. And during this exploration and experimentation time, you’ll need to recognize those moments when you’re absentmindedly seeking out pain — when you see it, shut it down. Luckily you can use the feeling of pain as an alarm to indicate that you’re doing something masochistic again. In brief: feel pain, stop doing what you’re doing, do something better instead.

Masochistic Delight

So I’m sitting there in the War Robots lobby looking at the scrolling chat, and this guy is complaining about something not working right. And believe me, EVERY complaint about War Robots is probably legit — there’s so much to complain about –in fact, I do it all the time. Yet we all still show up to play the game. WHY!!?? The game literally abuses us in every way possible. So I contributed to the conversation and said, “well yeah, I think you gotta love some level of abuse to play this game.”

And then it hit me, I’m a freakin masochist!!! It’s like one of those M. Night Shyamalan moments when your life flashes before your eyes and all the clues were there, but you just couldn’t recognize them at the time. It’s dead-obvious now that I’m analyzing it — but I always thought it was such a dumb concept: who the heck would purposefully seek out pain? Uh, um, well, me I guess. Please hurt me!! Thank you, may I have another!!?

I’m always playing games in which I suffer frustrating losses. Even this blog frustrates me. My relationships frustrate me. Food frustrates me. It turns out, EVERYTHING frustrates me! YET, I keep going back for more.

So then I started thinking about memorable circumstances throughout my life. Would things have gone more smoothly if I had only trusted life and stopped trying to fight at every turn — if I had simply gone with the flow? And my conclusion was: no, not really. BUT, what readily and reliably explains the circumstances of my life: I’m a masochist! It’s as if the scenes I experienced were professionally designed to evoke maximum frustration!

If you think about it though, games are typically designed to introduce frustration, that’s their underlying nature. An obstacle prevents your progress — and until you overcome it, you’re frustrated by it. And the MORE frustrating a challenge is, the MORE it draws you in. That’s why the concept of “playing hard to get” can work in the realm of romance. If it’s easy, who cares. But if it’s difficult to attain, that’s a challenge that’ll keep you interested! That’s something you can dedicate yourself to!

If you quickly get through a game, it’s over — there’s nothing left to do. Whereas if challenges continually keep you from getting to the end, you literally might play for years. Sure you’re frustrated, but you keep going and going and going. You MUST reach the end no matter what it takes!!! So that’s life in a nutshell: a series of unconquerable tasks that string you along to the end. After all these years here, I haven’t mastered ANYTHING — and apparently, I’m not supposed to.

And if I did master life’s challenges, there’d be nothing left to accomplish. It’d be: “You Win!” followed by: “Game Over”.

So the question becomes: can I participate in this game-of-life while only experiencing minimal frustration? Must I always find myself maximally frustrated? Is pain simply my preference? I honestly don’t feel like it is, but ample evidence says otherwise. I would theorize that it’s possible to give up the pain-loving lifestyle if I develop an alternate means in which to appreciate life. For example, maybe I could develop a taste for winning.

As it is, I barely care if I win. But when I lose, oh boy, I can feel that frustration brewing. That’s something real. What a thrill it is to feel dominated and defeated!! In every path of life, I’ve felt that same frustration from my inabilities. I’m nothing but a weak and worthless moron that can’t do anything right. A loser. A loser lapping up frustration like it’s the tastiest cake on Earth. Sicko.

Therefore, having recognized my masochistic tendencies AND having recognized that I do not enjoy the level of pain produced by said tendencies, I hereby declare that I will work towards developing a new way to appreciate life. I will celebrate the victories and the revelry, the camaraderie and the creativity, the gentle and the loving — I am done delighting in despair and the not-fair.

Taking a Step Back

I think you’ll notice that the game-of-life pushes the notion of a concrete physical reality mixed with the concept of random chance. And the reason for that, is because those properties maximize the intensity and excitement we feel here. Everything you see and experience is “real”, born of cosmic fire, created through millions of years of evolution and chemical reaction. There’s an epic-ness to it all. “And what’s this!? Any part of it, including me and everyone I know, will be struck-down by random chance?! Gasp!! Oh no!!! So exciting!!!”

But of course, it’s just predetermined pixels designed to appear as if they’re there. It’s obvious when you stop and stare at the gameplay itself, but when you’re lost in your character it certainly feels like the real-deal. And like I mentioned at the start, the game will keep attempting to convince you that it’s real and random.

If you consider the story of the Pilgrims, it’s the story of some people that put the concept of a non-physical-world to the test. Without any special skill or ability, they boarded a boat and went over to the “new world” trusting in their faith of a benevolent world. God will protect and provide — and in many ways He did. They survived the daunting voyage, there was a native man that just happened to speak English who was willing to show them how to procure food, and there was an “empty” village just waiting for them. While it’s reported that half of them died during the first winter, it’s still a miraculous feat.

There are lots of stories that tell of the non-random, non-physical nature of the world — yet for some reason we tend to say it was “luck”, just random happenstance that could never happen again. Yet, unusual things happen all the time, there are “amazing”, seemingly impossible narratives that happen again and again. The very fact that life occurs in story-like patterns is a give-away in itself.

Lest you think I’m trying to spoil the fun and ruin the surprise, far from it. I’m only attempting to provide some perspective. Without their faith in a non-physical world, the Pilgrims never would’ve been so bold. Whereas if you believe yourself a simple creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape, you’ll dig a hole and hide away your entire existence — it’s the logical thing to do. But, if you know beyond a doubt that the world wants you well, then you’ll step into the sun, soaking up its warm rays as you seek out the adventure of a lifetime.

So consider this: the world is not real OR random. It’s a game of pretend. You’re a character meant to play out your role. Whenever the intensity of immersion becomes too great, take a step back and realize that you’re not just a character, but also the player that watches, the one having the fun.

Middle Path of Pixels

In terms of a video-game analogy, you do want to be here on Earth playing this game as a specific character. You’re not attempting to get beyond your character. “Enlightenment” is not transcending your character in order to solely identify as the player. That’s dumb — the player came to play, and to do that, he must become a character.

But as a player, you don’t want to over-identify as your character, it’s too stressful. Yet this is what happens: the player gets so lost in the game that he forgets he exists, he believes he’s actually the character. So what enlightenment is, is when the player finally realizes that underneath it all, he’s actually a player — but it doesn’t end there.

Once the player realizes he’s a player AND a character, he must balance those two perspectives into an enjoyable ratio. Too much character is too intense — and too much player lacks a feeling of immersion. All this Earth-stuff is here for a reason, you most certainly want to interact with it, but you need to do so with a lighthearted attitude, not taking things too seriously.

Imagine if you associated too closely with the character of Pac-Man for instance. You’d attempt to hide from the ghosts, you’d be petrified of being eaten, every step you took would be a step closer to your doom. You’d hover over by the power-pellets, your only source of safety in a world designed to destroy you.

Now imagine if you associated too closely with the player of Pac-Man, never immersing yourself in the game. “Who cares about gobbling those meaningless pellets?” — “So what if a ghost gets me, it doesn’t matter anyway.” — “Oh well, died again, and again, and again.” — “Meh, game over, so what.” — “That was quick. Now I’m bored and have nothing to do.”

Whereas if you strike the right balance between character and player: “Ooh! That was a close one! Ha almost got me ghost, but not today!” — “Oh, oops, well I guess his friend got me. But now it’s my turn to get you!! It’s Power Pellet Time!!” — “I can’t believe I cleared the board! Victory is mine!!” — “Second stage! Let’s do this!”