Paint on Plywood

I used to believe I was very smart. I could see through it all. I saw how everyone was full of crap. I knew society to be a charade. This world wasn’t what it purported itself to be, and I was one of the few who recognized it. I was surrounded by simple-minded fools that just didn’t get it. “Don’t you see!!? You’re being deceived!!”

It turns out, I was the dunce that didn’t get it. It’s like I’m at a stage-production filled with painted sets and actors in-costume reciting their lines — and I’m sitting there pointing out how fake everything is. Of course it’s fake! It’s a play! But I’m the “smart guy” letting everyone know how the trees are just paint on plywood. “Ha! How can you people not see that!!??”

And all the while, they’re looking at me like I’m some kinda loon. “Uh, yeah Rich, that’s what they do here, those are actors and you’re an idiot”. Whereas everyone else was simply enjoying themselves, I thought the stage-production was a form of trickery trying to fool the audience for some nefarious reason.

I thought I was the “good-guy” letting everyone know that those people on stage weren’t who they claimed to be. I was dumfounded when people wouldn’t listen. “But it’s so obvious!!” The plots are paper-thin, everything is so flimsy, you can poke the sets and they’ll fall over. But people didn’t get it. “What’s wrong with you!? Wait, are you in on it too!!??”

“These sheeple are so brainwashed by society that they’ll believe anything!” But again, it’s like I was getting mad at an audience for enjoying their experience and losing themselves in the show. My belief in my own cleverness didn’t allow me to consider the idea that I was the one out-of-the-loop.

So beware, my fellow geniuses. The fact that we contemplate existential intricacies does not make us “smart”, it means we’re the dumb ones that can’t quite grasp what’s going on here. Of course you can see through the veil of illusion — it’s see-through! You’re just the chump taking the game too seriously when all you really have to do is play-along.

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Awesome Burger

Dear Rich, you seem to be pushing an agenda of positivity, does that mean everything in your life is super awesome?

Well remember, I have decades of experience in thinking the worst about the world. In other words, I’m well-practiced in pessimism. If you want a negative response, just ask me. I can tell you why any objective will not only fail, but will result in the worst consequences imaginable. I still have these thoughts, I just don’t accept them as true like I used to — they’re silly suggestions from a joker that likes to pretend the world is on fire.

So nowadays I brush these initial reactions aside, replacing them with more appropriate responses. I understand that it’s dumb for me to pretend to predict the future with a decidedly dour slant. Either I should keep my yapper zipped or perhaps offer some encouragement towards the endeavor. I’ve been so wrong about predicting dire outcomes, that I have no place shutting-down some else’s goals (not even my own).

As far as my life being super-duper awesome? No, it’s not. For instance, I had a headache yesterday. And that’s literally the worst thing that usually happens to me. But man, are those rough. If you look with a zoomed-out perspective, then everything appears to be going well. But that’s not how we look at our own life is it!? No, we’re zoomed-in to our own life. So no matter what problem we’re currently facing, it’s a BIG all-consuming problem to us.

And that’s why I still spend a significant portion of my day just reconciling with life. I notice an imperfection and suddenly LIFE SUCKS!!! It’s the WORST thing ever!!! Like when Five Guys neglected to put ketchup on my hamburger!? WHY ME!!??? Why must I be cursed with this wretched fate!? Okay, I didn’t mind that much since I was busy munching the Cajun fries. And actually, my headache went away immediately after that — so I can’t complain.

As you can tell, I’m very harsh and unforgiving in regards to any perceived imperfections I see. And that critical perspective makes it difficult to appreciate life. Therefore, my agenda of positivity is a means to change that disparaging perspective. It’s not necessarily a reflection of the life I’m experiencing, but it represents the mental state I want to achieve. As they say: practice makes improvement.

Elegant Earth

Dear Rich, why do you try so hard to make the world seem as though it’s a nice place?

Make no mistake dear reader, I make pessimists look like optimists, and introverts look like extroverts. My default mode is to sit isolated in a small room while staring at a glowing screen. And if I happen to leave that room, I will denigrate everything that passes into view. You will not like me and I will not like you.

But as it turns out, such an outlook is a terrible way to experience existence. Go figure. So maybe I got tired of feeling the repugnance and the fear — whatever crossed my path, I was disgusted by it or scared of it. Or maybe, after criticizing everything else in this world, perhaps there was nothing left to disparage but my own bad attitude.

Whatever it was, the situation became untenable. Therefore, my focus has been altered, my natural tendency to find-fault and rip-apart has been aimed at my discontentment. I am using all the condemning power at my disposal to shutdown and shame my tendency for pessimism and ungratefulness.

And as part of that effort, I am defending the world I long insulted. And you know what? I actually do feel better. And it turns out that all those horrible things that I thought, weren’t even true. Oopsie! My bad! As a means to make amends and as a way to reinforce it within myself, I am painting the world as a place that cares.

Word War II

I dunno man, you’re trying to convince me that the world is benevolent, but I’m seeing something very different. If it’s truly a friendly place, then shouldn’t it be obvious? Show, don’t tell. Why present all these “logical arguments” when the proof should be in the pudding.

If you’re projecting a nefarious nature onto everything, how can you be shown the truth? To you, everything looks as if it has evil intentions. Cats are ready to scratch, dogs are waiting to bite, food is filled with toxins, air is potential poison, people are always plotting — your dire predictions are all the evidence you need to condemn the world. You’ve convinced yourself that the world wants you dead.

Yet you ignore the inconvenient fact that you’re still alive!! Not only are you alive, but you’re doing well DESPITE a lack of effort on your part. You’ve done NOTHING to ensure your own continuing existence, yet here you are. How is that possible UNLESS the world is actively ensuring your well-being? You can’t hide from the world, no matter where you go you’re in it.

Well maybe I hide because I don’t like what’s out there. I’ve tried to participate — but every time I do, it sucks. Perhaps this world is just a poor implementation — not everything can be great, right? Or maybe it’s not the right fit for me.

That’s not true. There have been times in which you’ve enjoyed yourself here. And if someone with such a bad attitude can find enjoyment, how great a place must this be? Yet instead of savoring any enjoyment, you grow suspicious of it. You see it as cheese in a mouse-trap lulling you into a false sense of security as the trap gets ready to spring.

I’ve seen things happen to others and I don’t want those things happening to me. It’s truly a brutal world.

Instead of seeing the world for what it is, you’re trying to convince yourself that your imagined ideas are right. You developed an initial opinion when you arrived here, and you’ve clung to it for no good reason. You’re in a prison of your own design. If you step out into the sun, you might enjoy yourself.

I’d rather not step out into the sun, it causes sunburns and cancer.

If that were true, everyone would be roasted and/or dead. Could it be that your expectations about the world actually come true to some extent? If you expect something to evoke pain, perhaps it will? Maybe you’re not so much a victim, but a perpetrator? Might you be at the root of your own suffering?

Why would I want to hurt myself? That’s stupid. Now you’re trying to convince me that I’m the bad-guy in all this?

If you’re the one projecting evil onto everything you see in the world, how is that not bad? You’re like a vandal spraying grey and gloomy graffiti on every surface you pass. It’s laziness: destroy what’s there instead of creating something new. How fun for you to smash and break and tear things to bits. Wow, look how powerful you are. Impressive. But of course, that’s an immature form of fun. Destruction is the basest form of entertainment. It takes effort and care to create, a maturity that perhaps you refuse to develop?

I have ideas. I want to do things. The world refuses to give me what I want.

But you have opposing ideas. On one hand, you see a goal. On the other hand, you see a hundred reasons why it should never come to pass. Perhaps the world wants to give you everything you want, but YOU refuse it. You’re not battling the world, you’re battling your own contradictions. You’re saying: “give me five dollars!” but then you say “Eh, I guess I don’t deserve five dollars. And even if I get five dollars, I wouldn’t trust it — there’s bound to be strings attached. Five dollars is worthless anyway, I’d need at least twenty. Forget the five dollars, it’s too much trouble to deal with!” Does that sound familiar?

Well what am I supposed to do!? Why am I like this? I didn’t choose to be this way.

But now that it’s been pointed out to you, you can choose not to be this way. You’re aware of it, and with that awareness you can stop participating in the practice of pessimism. You can notice when your mood sours, when you paint with dour hues, when you’re doing something destructive instead of constructive. And from there, decide to follow a brighter path. You’ve been complicating things tremendously — it’s not that hard.

If it’s not that hard, then why haven’t I figured this stuff out on my own? I’m the smartest person I know!

Smart? No. You’re actually the most STUBBORN person you know. How can you be smart if you can’t do the simplest things? If you can’t even understand what’s happening right in front of you on a daily basis? If anything, you’re a special-needs case — and that’s okay. Your disability is that you think you know something.

If you actually knew something, the world would make sense. But because your intuition and imaginings are completely wrong, the world seems as though it’s messed up. It’s YOU that’s messed up — how could you be right, and the entire world wrong? Think about that. You’ve been believing all these juvenile notions about yourself and the world, and it’s gotten you nowhere.

Well you don’t have to be mean about it.

Isn’t that what you do? Don’t you go around criticizing? Disparaging EVERYTHING you happen across? Does that sound smart to you? You claim that you’re simply describing the reality around you, but it seems more like an editorial with an underlying tone of piss and vinegar. Your opinion is no more factual than a gossip-rag at the supermarket checkout-aisle. You’re no more than a shyster attempting to peddle your smut-filled fear-mongering nonsense to anyone that’ll listen. And you think you deserve sympathy?

You CAN stop finding fault with everything. You CAN stop focusing on every bad thing you can think of. You CAN get smarter. You CAN appreciate the goodness that’s given to you. You CAN enjoy your time here on Earth. You CAN be happy and do constructive things. The choice is up to you though — a better life is an option you can select. You must exercise your free-will to attain it.

Well whatever, I guess I’m an idiot then. I guess it’s Shit-on-me Day today. More of the same.

Very good. You’re learning. You ARE an idiot and you WILL receive exactly what you expect to receive. Expect a bad experience, receive a bad experience. Now think about this: you’ve been arguing this entire time for the right to be miserable. Why would you want that? If you abandon your position, you can have a much better life. Stop defending a perspective that causes you to hate existence. Life loves you — why reject it? Accept, appreciate, engage, enjoy — it’s not so hard.

I dunno…

Of course you don’t know, that’s the point. You don’t know — so start there. Start at the position of unknowableness. Don’t be so sure of your pessimistic positions. Maybe everything you’ve been so certain about is wrong. And if you explore with an open-mind, perhaps you’ll discover a world that’s been waiting to embrace you. It didn’t dare before, you screamed with suspicion at anything you were given. Now accept the caress — let your guard down. Forget what you think you know and know the love of life.

I want to be loved.

You are loved.

Gaming Analysis

My ideally imagined gaming scenario is this: game starts, I stumble onto an immense stockpile of resources that I use to attain dominant levels of strength and power. From there, I proceed to use my supremacy and innate skills to conquer the game and everyone in it. Done.

Yet that’s not my typical gaming experience. It’s more like: game starts, I saunter-out ready to do some damage, feeling like I’m gonna crush the competition, but I get picked apart like Thanksgiving dinner, can’t find any resources, and I hide, focusing on some non-confrontational aspect of the game.

There’s always a mismatch between what I believe I can do and what I can actually do — and this obviously leads to a lot of frustration. After all these years, I still can’t reconcile the mismatch — how come I’m not dominating and crushing the competition where they stand?

My perspective is obviously off. Everything is telling me that I’m a noob, yet I refuse to accept it. I fully realize that a subtler approach and a smarter strategy can be used when facing tough competition — but that’s not my way — I am the embodiment of supremacy, and that’s the only way I know how to win.

In other words, if I could think of a better strategy, I’d use it — duh. But for some reason, I’m provided with the perspective that I’m a thirty-foot tall demi-god with absolute knowledge and the ability to manifest my will unto the world. Perhaps I’m a tragic character like Sisyphus, forever cursed to lose despite my grandiose expectations. So what can I do about this predicament?

Well, why are you thinking in terms of competition? That’s a finicky concept that isn’t easily achieved. For starters, if one side is clearly dominant, there’s no actual contest taking place — the outcome is certain. So right off the bat, it’s clear that you want no part in an actual contest, you simply want a demonstration of strength — a charade.

And second, who says there’s even any competitions taking place? For example, it’s like seeing a man walking down the sidewalk, and you go up beside him and start walking faster until you “beat him” to the end of the block. There was no contest, you just superimposed one over a regularly occurring event.

So get the idea of “competition” out of your head, it’s dumb. It’s the same nonsense as thinking you’re a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape with nothing but your vigilance and skill keeping you alive. IF life had actual competitive aspects, there’s no question you’d have lost already — experienced players would camp-the-spawn and blow you to bits.

Competition in any form is an untenable situation unless there are lots of rigorously maintained rules. But that means competition has to be so regulated, that there’s barely a contest anymore. Competition is more of a choreographed dance than anything. Repeat after me: You’re not competing against anyone for anything.

What you seem to be struggling against isn’t other people or the world itself, you’re struggling with your strange ideas about others and the world you’re in. You’ve come in ready for a fight, but there’s no fight to be had. Oops, wrong place. But now that you’re here, let me show you around…

This is Earth, it’s a safe-space. Your food, shelter, activities, transportation, and companionship are all taken care of. You most certainly don’t have the ability to exist as an actual physical being in a natural world. You’re essentially experiencing the sensation of what it’s like to be an embodied being in a pseudo-physical world.

There’s no pressure here, no “survival of the fittest” — stop trying to scare yourself. Relax. Think of this not as a first-person-shooter, but as a creative realm in which you build things with whatever resources seem fitting to you. None of it matters of course, it’s more like building sandcastles that wash away when the tide comes in. You can build relationships, crafts, art or literary projects, culinary delights, businesses, technological creations, collections of stuff, libraries of knowledge, ways of thinking — there’s so much to do.

But you… you want to fight stuff? You want to struggle against some imaginary opponent? And so you setup scenarios where you’re on the losing end and thus validate your sense of struggle. In your mind, you’re the inexperienced upstart that needs to push through in order finally defeat a more experienced opponent on the field of battle. Oh, bravo… bravo….

Yet your enemy is a windmill. You’re Don Quixote fighting imagined dragons. Sorry, but the only fight you need to win is the one against your strange and outlandish thoughts. You’re projecting sinister visions onto an innocent world. The reason you never win is because there’s no race!! There’s no challengers, no finish-line, no trophy — yet you keep running as though you’ll eventually cross into a winner’s circle.

Take a breath and realize the truth of this situation. The world can’t be the way you believe it to be. The reason things don’t work out for you is because you’re completely wrong about how things work. It’s NOT because you’re “losing” and need to “train harder” and “overcome” a whole bunch of “obstacles”. You’ve come for a battle and you’re trying to force one wherever you can. Instead of that nonsense, simply accept the world as it is.

Stop looking for a fight — although as we already established, you’re actually looking to put on a display of strength solely to evoke feelings of supremacy — a silly game of pretend. But it’s not working because it’s dumb and goes against what’s already established here: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” It’s done, they won, now have fun.

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.

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.