At the Top

Sometimes I sit and stare at successful people. You know, like watch interviews and such. Some do just fine at the top whereas others stumble and fall, even to their death. Is life at the top THAT precarious? But of course, people die at the bottom too, probably much more so. And isn’t it better to die in a mansion than a cardboard box? If you gotta go, might as well go in style.

From those that survived falling from the top, they said their success was ultimately unfulfilling i.e. it didn’t solve their problems, so they had no place to go but down. And down they went. In other words, they had their wish granted but they didn’t feel satisfied — and with nothing left to attain, their lives felt empty. It seems that if you get what you want without an ability to appreciate it, you’re going to have a really bad time.

Typically these people are young, and rocket to success while lacking practice in appreciation. If you’re going to have fun at the top, you need an ability to appreciate it. You can’t be paranoid that you’ll lose it, you can’t be suspicious of everyone around you, and you have to embrace the lifestyle and trust that life wants you well. Otherwise, you might freak-out and literally jump off.

And I admit, it wasn’t that long ago that I imagined walling myself away from the world. In Minecraft for example, I used to build underground bunkers to protect myself from the harsh and brutal mobs. I would have full food supplies and whatever else I needed alongside extensive tunnels and air-lock style door systems. Zombies weren’t gonna catch me slippin. So if I had early success, I would’ve likely done something similar.

But nowadays I see the futility in “protecting” yourself from life. If life wants you dead, ain’t nuthin you can do. What determines your fate is a good attitude, that’s it. Believe in the goodness of life and you’ll receive it. Whereas if you believe in the bad, you’ll get exactly what you asked for. That’s the conclusion I reached after watching all those successful people. That’s the common thread that determines whether you enjoy your time at the top, and whether you remain there.

Today’s lesson: learn to appreciate. If you can’t do that, there’s no sense in getting to the top.

Big Brain Time

What do you do when you know you’re in a dream and you also realize that dreams don’t adhere to logic? It’s Big Brain Time! That’s right, it’s time to apply amusingly absurd solutions to all your dream-world problems. In a dream, logic is for losers, it won’t work — B does not necessarily follow A.

For example, do you want to completely change your life? What you DON’T do, is start a gradual process of incremental improvement. That’s dumb — it’s too logical. What you DO, is make a collage of pretty pictures that visually describes the life you want to live. Eventually, your life will morph into whatever you imagined. Sound stupid? Good, it should — THAT’S how you know it’s right.

You may think I’m being facetious, but I assure you I’m not. As a former logical-thinker who utterly failed at life due to the over-application of logic, I’m simply speaking from experience. Logic IS for losers. If you want a great life, you gotta go big-brain. You have to come up with crazy ways to go from A to Z. Or better yet, A to Alpha-Centauri. In a dream, you can go wherever you want.

Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Then do it! There’s no “right time” to wait for, there’s nothing you need to know, no preparation necessary, no luck involved, no stars to align, no talent needed — you’re in dream, you simply wish it into existence. Focus on the goal and it manifests around you. If you believe you need a logical path to get there — you’re wrong. Get there the big-brain way!

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.

Existential Challenge

What does it take to live in the world?

The tenacity to maintain a positive attitude. I lived with a bad attitude most of my life. It sucked.

What obstacles are you faced with in your life?

Sleep is a biggie. I don’t sleep very well. In fact I actively fight it at times. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s a control issue. And when I finally do fall asleep, I wake up throughout the night.

Existential boredom. I don’t know what I should do with the bulk of my time. It’s been several decades and I’ve yet to find a career path.

The occasional physical ailments: headaches, colds, minor injuries. I wrestle with that stuff like they’re major life-altering obstacles.

Pessimism. I tend to think the worst of everything. I have to actively fight against it.

What obstacles would you rather tackle instead?

Well, nothing to do with my physical body — my body should simply serve as a well-functioning vehicle for my consciousness. I’d rather my obstacles take the form of career related tasks. But like I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure what that career would be.

I suppose if I had my druthers, I’d like to be an eccentric nouveau riche. I’d spend crazy amounts of money at Walt Disney World, stay at Deluxe Resorts (concierge-level of course), decorate my house with outlandishly expensive Disney memorabilia, stay current with the latest tech gadgets, ride electric scooters around town (the fun kind), go on shopping sprees, go to restaurants, collect things, and treat everyone I know to great gifts (like Santa Claus). That excites me.

I’m just kinda waiting for the fun-funds to kick in. Luckily, after several decades of existence I started believing in magic, so the certainty of this scenario is approaching one hundred percent. And if you believe in “nominative determinism”, my name is actually Rich — it’s a destiny thing.

I can also see why it wouldn’t have made sense to have money at an earlier stage of life. Because of my pessimism, it would’ve just amplified my anxiousness. Now instead of fortresses and walling myself away, I can think of more enjoyable ways to spend money. So in a sense, I’d like my career to be shopping. For pro-shoppers such as myself, shopping is like a form of hunting, it’s finding the best, most appropriate item — which takes a lot of care and effort — for those #bornToShop, it’s energizing.

So “the hunt” is where I’d face my obstacles. I need to be me, and if me is a silly guy that loves to shop, then so be it.

Any parting words?

Yes. I think selecting your preferred obstacles is a primary component of designing your life. If you don’t, life will simply hand you some default challenges. For instance, two big challenges for me are sleep and headaches — and that’s just dumb. I’m ready to move on to a more enjoyable context in which to overcome my challenges.

It’s also important to understand that challenges are relative. Everyone experiences maximum-challenge mode. What might look like nothing to you is near impossible for another — whereas what might look impossible to you, is readily handled by someone else. A pimple on the nose could bring someone’s world crashing down. You can’t judge or compare — obstacles are relative to the individual they’re applied to.

Illogical Outcomes

I’ve noticed that sometimes I persistent in an endeavor despite any perceptible improvement. In other words, I know what I want to accomplish and I keep working at it, yet I have zero progress to prove I’m headed in the right direction. Then finally, after a long bout of activity fueled by determination, the goal is achieved. That’s strange. It’s not logical.

Imagine it like this: I want some food from the supermarket, so I get in the car. I drive around and around for awhile and finally find myself in the parking lot. I didn’t follow a particular route, I just drove and made turns whenever I felt like it. Yet for some reason, I successfully arrived at my destination. That’s a silly premise.

It seems as though life is rewarding my blind effort, or simply fulfilling my expectation — I’m not sure which. I’ve noticed this many times: that a particular input doesn’t necessarily lead to a logical result. Logically and statistically, arbitrary activity should result in an unusable mess, not a functional product — yet oftentimes it works out in the end.

As a general recipe, persistence shouldn’t work as well as it does. It’s even offered as a common piece of advice: “Keep it up!” Logically, it makes sense to follow a systematic course of action, not simply trying the same thing over and over. This points to a non-physical foundation of reality. In the mind for example, when we’re trying to remember something, repetition makes sense.

It seems like the pathways we’re trying to carve are wrought with repetition. And if that’s the way we remember it, then that’s the way it is. “Affirmations” for instance, is the practice of repetitiously writing a desired outcome over and over again. In a non-physical world, there aren’t systematic paths to goals, there’s only a wish and an expectation of outcome.

But just because we want something, doesn’t mean we expect to receive it. Oftentimes we don’t feel we deserve it or we think it’s impossible from a logical standpoint. So in order to align our expectations with our wish, we must instill in ourself a sense of worthiness AND forget about logic. The way to accomplish this is through repetition.

That’s not so easy by the way, persistence requires patience. First you must define what it is you actually want. Then you have to believe yourself deserving of it. Then you must have hope, which is hard because you’ll lack physical proof of progression. Logical thinking will constantly get in your way, so it must be dismissed. But if you keep it up, you too will become a master of magic.

In the Conservatory, Again

Five years ago, I made a guess at what life is — just a fun exercise. This is an updated version. What is life, attempt #2:

Life exists within a fabricated environment, a dreamworld if you will. This dream is directed by the dreamer’s expectations. So as to maintain the sensation of full-immersion, the dreamer knows nothing of what came before or what exists beyond. Oftentimes, entrance into the dreamworld can be jarring and unsettling and this can cause the dreamer to expect the worst — and so a nasty world can manifest before the eyes.

The world is an amusement park of sorts, a dream-fulfillment factory. So if a dreamer inadvertently expects a nightmare scenario, life WILL fulfill this expectation. At most times, the dreamer is lost to the dream, simply drifting along, going with its flow. If the dreamer has wondrous expectations, everything will be fine and dandy. But if the dreamer expects the worst, he’ll be smacking into rocks all the way down the river of life. These jolts will cause discomfort obviously, and at some points he’ll lose the sensation of immersion and become hyper-aware.

This results in the worst possible experience. First, whenever the negative-dreamer gets absorbed in the story, he witnesses the most horrible stuff he can imagine — it’s too intense. Second, whenever he becomes hyper-aware, it feels like there’s something wrong, like he doesn’t belong. At this point, it’s up to the dreamer to start putting two and two together. He must find a more palatable path through the rushing river of life. It’s sink or swim time.

Typically, the more palatable path consists of dumping that initial negative perspective and cultivating better expectations. It’s accepting that the dreamworld is actually a dreamworld and not a harsh physical-environment in which the dreamer is a random creature struggling for survival. It’s accepting that he is in fact the dreamer of this dream. Once the dreamer starts expecting the best from life, the dreamworld complies and begins manifesting a much better experience.

As in the board-game Clue, I’m ready to make my accusation: You-the-dreamer did it, in the dreamworld, with your expectations.

Soap Suds

I was washing a plate by hand in the sink. With suds covering my fingers, I peered out the window and noticed the familiar view. But it wasn’t a recent view. I was back at the first house I ever lived in. I recognized the sink and the surroundings. We were back — our excursion to Florida must’ve failed and we returned to Massachusetts. Does that mean my dad is still alive? It feels like he is.

Tears started welling in my eyes. I felt so sad. Being back means my balcony’s gone. I love my balcony. It’s where I’ve sat everyday for the past few months since we’ve been here, gazing across the treetops and marveling at the clouds and their many shapes. It’s where I contemplate life and practice presence. I can even see my little boy’s school from there, oftentimes hearing the clamor of recess.

Sensing my own sadness, my mind made an ocean-view appear out of another window — and I was comforted. I could see the gentle white-topped waves rolling into the warm tan sand. I suppose the ocean would be an acceptable swap for clouds and treetops. Yet my logical mind kicked in and said “Hey! That’s where the backyard usually is. There’s no ocean, it’s merely a mirage!” I was sad again.

I woke up. My eyes opened to the very balcony I missed in my dream — and I was comforted. I feel very much at home here, much more than that first house in my dream, a house I lived-in for nearly three decades — yet it never felt like a home. I don’t know where we’ll be in August of next year. In my mind I see myself here, living the quaint and cozy suburban life.

Who knew that’s what I wanted? But the thought of having lost it made me nearly cry in my dream. I suppose it solidifies how much I care about where I am right now. I’m not scared of losing it, I’d just be disappointed if I did. Then I rebuked my wallet. I sternly declared: “How dare you not provide the ample funds I require! My family and guests deserve better!”. My finishing move was a flying-elbow, the double-bill-fold flew open and landed face down on the floor. I guess I won.