Simple and Efficient

I enjoy cheat-codes. Back in the day, I utilized the famous “Konami Code” to receive extra-lives on Contra for the original NES. It was something like: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, Start, Start. If you look it up now, it’s slightly different, but that’s what I entered and it worked. I learned it from a kid in my class — he was a video-game expert. He’d read about video-games in magazines or something. He also helped me to find all the hidden stuff in the Legend of Zelda for NES.

In other words, I’m not a stranger to taking the “easy route”. I guess that’s why magic and wishing pique my interest. I’m a slave to efficiency — and what’s more efficient than cheat-codes, magic, wishes, etc.? I suppose I like the feeling of taking shortcuts because I love efficiency so much. In fact, the more effort I put into something, the less I appreciate it. The end-product seems too convoluted to be worth all the trouble. For me, simple is best.

But usually, I use cheat-codes when I literally couldn’t have done it any other way. I couldn’t have beaten Contra with a measly 3 lives, I’m not that good of a video-game player — I don’t care enough to dedicate the time nor are my reflexes fast enough. So boom!, there I am with all those extra-lives, reaching the end. From feeling frustrated at my inability, to complete domination of the game itself — how’s that for a self-esteem boost!?

Perhaps it’s part of my character, but I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself. Because I value simplicity and efficiency, the easier and quicker route feels correct to me. So if the game-of-life, for whatever reason, hands me millions of dollars — I’d say “oh, well it’s about time! But thanks, I appreciate this. I was struggling quite a bit with the gameplay, but this will provide the boost I need.” I’m not particularly good at games, but my persistence and willingness to utilize shortcuts typically pays off in the end.

P.S. I serve as a beacon of hope to pessimistic slackers ONLY. I am NOT a type-A hard-charging go-getter. I understand that some people really do get a sense of satisfaction from effort and “hard work” — and that’s great. But it’s also great that variety exists. There’s a path for everyone in this world and some of us have fun taking the accelerated routes.

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Batch of Roles

From my perspective, individuals are hard-wired to be something in particular straight out the gate. People are in no way “tabula-rasa” i.e. empty slates at birth. Everyone seems to have a drive within them to do something specific. And conveniently, the roles we pursue are evenly distributed enough that we find ourselves within a decently-functioning interconnected system of activity. It seems to me that these separate roles coordinate too well to be random-chance.

I would speculate that a central coordinating mechanism exists beyond the visible world. We all have certain characteristics and special abilities suited for some roles but not for others. And from what I’ve observed, you can’t teach people. Either they can do something or they can’t. If it looks like people are being taught, it’s simply that individuals gravitate toward what they’re good at — that’s it. If teaching was an actual functioning mechanism, you could teach anyone to do anything — but you can’t.

For instance, throughout my many years here, I’ve practiced playing musical instruments and I’ve tried cooking delicious meals. Ultimately I’m not good at either activity. And my friend, who’s a natural artist can whip-up a world-class meal without breaking a sweat and she can play an instrument or sing as if it’s second nature. If you simply watch children growing up, you can see how proficiently they perform certain activities that they’ve never been trained to do — it’s just part of their character.

So I think it’s true when you hear: you have to discover who you are. What role have you come here to play? What are your characteristics? What’s your dossier list as your strengths and weaknesses? But you can’t figure it out by logic, you have to feel your way there. You have to sample the selection and see what suits your palate. And this part you play is not a limitation by the way, it’s you being who you were meant to be — it’s your role, your pathway to fulfillment.

Making Connections

So the next obvious question is: as a content-creator, how do you create connections?

If you wanted to make friends, what would you do? Would you wall yourself off? Wear the same smelly clothes everyday? Show hostility towards everyone and everything? OR, would you put the best, most inviting version of yourself out there for all the world to see? Likely the second option, right?

Next: If I tell you some facts and figures, you wouldn’t care — and even if you did, you’d soon forget. But what really sticks, are stories. You need to weave narratives into the minds of your audience. If you analyze the content we consume, it’s mostly filler, simple stuff that takes up time — so it’s not the actual material that matters so much as the way it’s wrapped.

Third: Not any boring story will do, it must evoke emotion. Get the audience to feel and they’ll follow you on whatever yarn you unravel. No one really cares about the exact time you entered a building, they want to feel the urgency and apprehension of the moment your sweat-soaked hand touches the almost-menacing door-handle. Think roller-coaster, not museum-tour.

Now, if you can forgive a slight interruption, I was just pausing to think about how much I appreciate you for reading this. Someone recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, and all I could think about was you: an audience of my very own. Yeah it’s corny, I know. But really, it warms my heart to think about your presence as my presents. Number four: appreciate your audience.

Five: You gotta want it. For example, I don’t want to make pie, my heart’s not into it — so if I do make pie and I’m faced with challenges along the way, I’m probably going to cut corners and not care too much about the final product. Whereas I do want to eat pie (apple or even toffee-pecan) — and I’ll easily eat a third or even half in a single sitting. So, is creating connections your focus? Are you terrified or thrilled by the aspect of connecting with your audience?

To sum it up: Welcome people into a well-kept space. Tell them stories that stir their emotions. Appreciate them, they’re not mere stepping-stones to fame and fortune — the connection IS the goal — content-creators are a dime-a-dozen, you need them more than they need you. The audience is your friend, and you have to go out of your way to make this one of the most important relationships in your life — be respectful and sincere.

Reality Service

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Trail Guide

Dear Rich, even though you’ve barely mentioned it, I’m sick and tired of hearing about how awesome and magical your life is! Just stop it already and have a miserable time like the rest of us!

Oh dear reader, how I’ve felt those exact same sentiments in the past. It’s true, I didn’t get it when people claimed to be enjoying life. I figured them for liars or just too stupid to understand the complexities of the geopolitical system that they were being oppressed by. But it was my problem, I couldn’t understand the concept of enjoying life. I’d think, “Life is a miserable affair you moron, what’s there to be happy about!?”

Lucky for you dear reader, that you’ve stumbled upon someone just like you. A “realist” know-it-all that’s hell bent on convincing everyone else that they’re as miserable as you are. Except nowadays I’m a reformed pessimist — why you might even call me an optimist. If you try to feed me some of that gloom-and-doom bullsh*t, I’ll turn that turd into a polished gem just right for framin’.

Now, let’s get down to business. Here’s what we’re dealing with: your life sucks and you know it. I’ve been in your position and I turned my life around. You don’t want to wait a minute longer for your life to stop sucking therefore you’re willing to allow my many years of experience to guide you into a better place. That’s all we’re talking about here: by your acceptance of my assistance, a mere guide on the path of life, you’ll get to your destination a bit quicker and easier than going the long way.

It’s like any teacher. I mean sure you could figure out geometry from scratch, but why bother when there are people perfectly willing and able to take your hand and guide you along. So what’ll it be?

Refining Career

A truism for me seems to be: the harder I work, the less money I make. I never receive a dime for the toughest stuff I do. Whereas the most money I ever receive comes from doing nothing at all or just asking.

Yet from what I’ve gathered, you’re supposed to select a career in which you dedicate a significant portion of your efforts and in return you’re paid accordingly. Well I’m several decades old now, and that just doesn’t seem to apply to me.

Either I’m special or I’ve been operating under a bad assumption. I know I’ve made a lot of poor assumptions over the years, so perhaps that’s the likely answer. Maybe well-defined careers aren’t for everyone.

Why does it even matter? Well, it’s a hit to the ol’ self-esteem to look at yourself and think: “I assume I should have a successful career. If I don’t, something must be wrong with me. Therefore, I’m useless/worthless.” Well that sucks, but it’s an obvious conclusion.

But I’m perfectly happy doing my own thing. And frankly, I don’t like money being tied to the things I do — I’m always suppressed by pressure, not spurred on by it.

And funny enough, there’s no real decision to make here. I literally have zero inspiration to find a lucrative career. I enjoy thinking and writing my thoughts down — that’s all I’m inspired to do. Even if I had a few million dollars, I’d be doing the same thing.

Another common assumption is this: when you follow your passion, eventually the money comes. Well, it’s been over six years and nothing even remotely lucrative has come from it. But I’m not destitute, the money has been coming from external sources.

Then what is there to complain about? Well, there have always been people I know that tell me I should get a job. Are they right? Are they simply trying to guide me or are their words hurdles that must be jumped?

The few jobs I had were a result of that pressure. But I eventually quit each of those jobs because they didn’t fit me, I didn’t feel right in those roles. But this, doing what I’m doing right at this moment, thinking and transcribing my thoughts… that feels right.

I suppose I worry about if-and-when that external source of money will dry up. Then what? Hm, but that’s probably just another bad assumption on my part. Why should I be carried for so many decades only to be dropped on my head halfway through?

Faith. Maybe the one thing I’m doing wrong right now is my lack of faith. For example, whether you start college or start a business, you must have faith in the eventual success of your path. So much that’s seemingly beyond your control has to align for success to follow those initial steps. The thing that keeps you going is faith in a fruitful outcome.

Therefore, I’ll have to label those challenges to my path as tests-of-faith. Am I willing to push through them!!?? Well yeah, like I said I have nothing else going on right now. Are you super pumped!!!?? Well it’s actually early in the morning and I’m kinda tired, that’s why I’ve been sitting here rambling and yawning. YEAHH!!! Let’s do this!!! Okay.

Snap out of it!! Your faith is wavering! The bottom line is this: the course is clear, in fact it couldn’t be clearer — just sit there and write down your thoughts whenever inspiration strikes. Beyond that, just enjoy your time here on Earth. Done.

Professional Believer

You know what job I wouldn’t mind, I think, is being a professional believer. Saying I’m a professional “thinker” or even “writer” still doesn’t feel right to me. If someone asked me straight out, “So Rich, what do you do for a living?” I think I’d be most comfortable and semi-excited to state: “Well Bob, I’m a professional believer!” And Bob would be taken aback a bit and wonder what I meant. I’d then go on to briefly explain that it means I believe in the benevolence of life, so I gratefully partake in the gifts I receive.

And Bob might not get it, or might just interpret it as dumb luck, but after some time he might just start to see that I’m for real. So in a sense, I’d be using my sweet lifestyle to proselytize. Bob would potentially think: “Hm, if Rich is having such a great time and he doesn’t even do anything but believe in order to receive it… well, maybe I could do that!” And Bob might seek me out in order to understand my belief system a little more.

Of course some people would be too entrenched in their own beliefs and be dismissive, but a few might be in the mood for a change of perspective. Yeah, I think I like that…. Professional Believer.

Speaking of which, I shall now regale you with The Legend of Register 4, a circumstance that serves as the origin-story to my new profession.

My friend and I were at the grocery store a couple of days ago. There were only three registers open and all had long lines. She’s standing there noticing the piles upon piles of groceries before us. We had timetables to keep and she wasn’t pleased with the wait we’d have to endure. In that moment, she planted a mental seed within the bagger of register 3. She mentally projected the thought, “You will open register 4 and summon me”.

Well, nothing happened. My friend thought about how the bagger lacked authority to actually open the register and then said to me, “I lack the courage to move over to register 4 and wait for it to open.” I replied, “Well I have the courage to stand at that empty register but I lack the faith, I know I’d just be standing there the rest of the day.” And so as to prove the power of faith, my friend put her powers into overdrive. At that moment a manager walked over to the bagger of register 3 — a dialog took place and the bagger walked over and assumed the position of cashier at register 4. Her hand raised in the air and she summoned my friend over.

While exiting the store, I was amazed at my friend’s ability to orchestrate the scene I just saw. Yet I thought it was a bit frivolous to use her powers on such a trivial circumstance (i.e. opening a register) — but I realized she loves stuff like that. For her, the fun is in the frivolity. But I also thought about how she orchestrated our move down here and got everything up and running exactly as she had planned it.

Additional note: Yesterday we were in the Home Depot looking for some planks of wood to add as slats to a twin bed. I figured I’d just buy some 4-footers and cut them down to size. Unfortunately, I’m used to shopping at Lowes so I was a bit out of my element. I fruitlessly looked for a few minutes and my friend said she wanted some lunch right after this. I said, “Well I don’t know how long this is going to take because I’m not sure where they keep the type of wood I’m looking for.”

I then looked back to where I had just been examining 6-foot planks to see if I could find some 4-foot ones in the same area. But to my surprise, what do I see? I saw 39″ boards specifically labeled as “bed slats” just sitting amongst the generic wooden boards. That’s the exact length I needed for a twin-size bed and there were no other slats but those. I picked up the quantity I needed and we paid. We then drove over to Ikea where she proceeded to have lunch.