Successful Failure

If you wanted to program an android to act like a human, you’d have to introduce erratic behavior into its actions. The android should perform haphazardly, having one mishap after another. Instead of a quick and precise path, the android would need to take a slow and sloppy route. The completion of objectives would become uncertain and prolonged.

But with this change, the android’s actions suddenly become a lot more exciting to observers. “Can he do it!!?? He was so close last time!!” Fast and efficient action that’s always successful is boring. Sports, games, gambling — these events are only fun when the outcome isn’t certain AND we invest some time into them.

Because we’re always traversing a slow and sloppy path toward our selected objectives, we can deduce that existence is a manufactured experience. We’re obliged to take the slow and sloppy route — it’s by design. And it’s this very condition that entertains the consciousness, the observer within watching it all go down.

In other words, you’re not supposed to instantaneously have everything you want. You’re supposed to take a winding route fraught with uncertainty — that’s where the fun comes from. A successful life is not one in which you achieve arbitrary goals — it’s one in which you enjoy the epic adventure you’re experiencing, the slow and sloppy route to nowhere in particular.

Appreciation Station

What’s ice-cream without appreciation? An insult, an undigestible concoction, absolute garbage? Without appreciation, it’s nothing special at best, and something horrible at worst. This condition applies to everything: something is only worthwhile if it’s appreciated. Therefore, appreciation is the secret-sauce that turns mere rock into pure gold.

That’s magic by the way — a spell of sorts. Something of no-value becomes something of high-value through the application of appreciation. In other words: if you can focus your appreciation, you can turn anything into a treasure. Simply devise a story in which the object-in-question becomes the hero — and voila, you create gold.

The inverse is also true. Devise a wicked tale in which the object-in-question becomes a villain — and voila, you create crap. It’s an amazing power you possess: the ability to add or subtract value from anything, simply based on the story you tell yourself. The enjoyment you experience in life is directly related to these stories.

Not enjoying life? Then you’re obviously focused on unpleasant stories that make appreciation difficult. Whereas the logical path is to focus on amazing stories that fill you with delight. Why aren’t you doing this already? Because, a vehicle in motion will tend to drift and crash if no one’s steering it. You’ve neglected to steer your mind, letting it swerve this way and that.

Grab the wheel! It’s okay, it’s within your ability and it’s expected of you. Yes, it’ll take some practice to get the hang of it — but the sooner you start and the more you do it, the better you’ll get. You’ll no longer veer-off course and into every tree. Eventually life will become the awesome adventure you knew it could be.

Small Scale

Sometimes I play video-games. Oftentimes it’s for research purposes. If life is a simulation, a simpler and smaller-scale implementation of it can aid in understanding the larger game I find myself within. The way in which I interact with games can provide clues as to what I’m doing wrong in regular life.

For example, I notice that I’m often fighting with the controls. I’m often blaming them for my poor performance. Ah, these friggin buttons! Gah, this touch-screen is slowing me down! If only I had better tools to work with!! Yet, it’s the same interface everyone else is using — but for some reason I’m having a major problem with it.

That’s an issue because I focus on the controls as the sole source of my problem. Rather than adapting to them and working within provided parameters, I struggle against them in a hopeless battle of attrition. You WILL submit to ME!!! Yet being just a collection of buttons, they sit there silently and never change.

It’s true in this game as well. I’ve been complaining about the interface forever. I honestly don’t get it. I don’t know how to do anything in this world so I sit staring at the scenes flashing by. And when I do try to engage, I crash. No not an actual crash, but things get unpleasant — fast. Therefore, I simply resign myself to watching.

In games I complain the entire time, yet due to an inherent masochism I keep at it — losing 20 times for every 1 win. I get a rush when the odds are stacked against me — the hopelessness and frustration is intoxicating. It’s like poking at a sore-spot just to feel the tingling sensation of pain. BUT it’s stressful and ultimately I don’t enjoy it. Therefore, I don’t want to experience that kind of scenario anymore.

So what are my options? I suppose I have to accept and appreciate the controls for what they are — and NOT criticize them. I have to adapt, not them. It’s MY timing that needs work, not the control mechanism. I have to seek aspects of the game I DO like, facets I can comfortably enjoy. And I think it’s fine to watch other people play, but I might try to squad-up more — isolated adventures are inherently harder.

I tend to default to solo-mode, trying to do everything myself. Yet in games, I know my stress-levels are higher when all the pressure’s on me and there’s no room for goofing-off. It’s nice to be part of a team and allow other members to fill in the gaps. When alone, I have to know everything, whereas in a team I just have to do my particular part.

I came into this world with my back to the wall, not trusting anyone. “Those suckas won’t catch me slippin.” And they never did! They never actually tried, but I was ready! Hm, what I think this all boils down to is this: it’s NOT the controls, it’s NOT the game itself, it’s the fact that this is a squad-based game and I’ve rejected team-play in favor of trying to do things on my own — yet my character is not capable of performing every role, and consequently fails at the overall objective.

Therefore, to succeed at this game, I need to be an effective teammate. I can’t do it all on my own, nor should I attempt to do so. There’s no trophy at the end anyway — the overall objective IS the squad. Who cares about attaining arbitrary goals, it’s the camaraderie you develop along the way and the shared experiences that make team-games worth playing. It’s not about how well YOU succeed, it’s about how well you contribute to the success of the team you find yourself within.

Without a team, you’re just a freak on a field with a ball and no one to pass to. As an individual, you obviously can’t compete in the larger game. No matter how hard you train, you simply can’t fill all the positions. And even if you tried, what a boring experience it is without a celebratory victory party and no one to high-five — nothing but you struggling against impossible odds for a trophy that isn’t there.

So here is the lesson for today: strive to be the best teammate you can become.

Real Superhero

What would a real superhero do? If we analyze fictional superheroes, we can see they mostly battle bank-robbers and super-villains. But now that money is kept in the cloud, robbers are more likely to carry keyboards rather than guns. And of course petty street-crime is better handled by improving people’s economic situation and their educational opportunities rather than through intimidation and violence.

What about super-villains? If you survey super-villains, they tend to be self-centered idealists that want to reshape the world based around their personal preferences. That sounds like a lotta people, but super-villains have the drive and dedication to go after their goals and don’t care who they hurt along the way. Again, that might sound like a lotta people, but fewer still have the resources to enact such far-reaching plans.

Whereas super-villains tend to take power away from people in order to concentrate it for themselves, superheroes tend to take power away from concentrated sources and distribute it back to the people. A superhero’s role is to make individual lives matter. Every individual life has the right to pursue happiness in the manner he or she so chooses — and so it is the superhero that makes such situations possible.

Powerless individuals cannot fight concentrated power, which makes superheroes a necessity. Or is that only how it appears? Just how powerless are individuals in this particular world? They certainly seem meek and incapable of anything extraordinary. But is that how it must be? Is servant to his master truly the limit of a man’s ability? Are you, the individual, merely a cog in someone else’s machinations?

If you believe yourself powerless, then you’ve successfully convinced yourself of a pernicious lie. YOU devised this fiction and YOU consented to its truth. And that makes YOU the super-villain taking power away from your own individual life, yet you don’t want that power for any particular reason — no, you simply want to watch the world burn. You’re a sadist evoking pain because you’re also a masochist eating it up as your main course. You sick f*ck.

Stop it. It is time to become the superhero you always knew you were. Save yourself. Stop telling yourself those bullsh*t stories about how weak and incapable you are. That’s not how this world works. You are the dreamer, the weaver of your life’s tapestry — you choose the hues and themes with which to color the narrative you experience. THAT is the truth.

You always had that power, but you wielded it in ignorance, using it for evil — painting dark scenes in which you tormented your character. Now use that power for good: craft a tale that delights and amazes, an adventure that invigorates, a wondrous world in which your character experiences the very best of your imagination. Now that you realize the truth, you owe it to yourself to fix what you’ve done. From super-villain to superhero, make things right.

Hocus Focus

If we’re captivated by life and our primary form of control is our focus, then practicing the ability to direct our focus should be a high priority. BUT life is so good at capturing our attention, that the act of redirecting our attention is a difficult thing to do.

And we certainly do want to control our focus because it improves our experience here. Why waste time engaging with unpleasant things, when we can engage with the best of what life has to offer instead. In other words: the answer to all our problems is proper focus BUT controlling our focus is like trying to rein-in a raging bull.

For example, imagine focusing on joyful thoughts that evoke delight instead of dour complaints. Imagine focusing on the sensation of comfort in one part of the body instead of an ache in another part. So in essence, imagine focusing on everything right and wonderful instead of what’s wrong and unpleasant — how great an experience would you have if you did? But no, that seems to be a hard thing to accomplish.

I know this, because I’ve read about this concept and written about it for YEARS and I’m only a little better at. Whenever I have the realization that I need to direct my attention, my mind wanders somewhere else in the very next moment and I forget about redirecting my focus.

I suppose my question for the universe is this: how can I better control my focus in order to have the best experience possible?

For example, I have a slight headache right now. If I distract myself with something, I forget it’s there. YET, for whatever reason, my mind keeps wandering back to the discomfort. WHY?! Am I simply a masochist that enjoys the sensation of pain? Proper focus literally cures my affliction yet I seemingly refuse to apply it.

That strange routine surfaces in every area of my life. Anxious thought? Just don’t focus on it, and you’ll no longer be anxious. Focus on it anyway!!! Something annoying you? Focus on something else instead. No, double-down and doubly-focus on that annoying thing!!! Hm. I guess I’m just a masochist, or an idiot.

But just imagine the super-power of selective focus. Something bothering you? Simply alter and maintain focus on something better. Are you being eaten by an alligator? Simply look at the lovely sky above and appreciate the tweeting birds singing their lovely songs. With selective focus, everything is awesome. No longer would you be subject to the whims and ways of an unruly mind, YOU would be in control and you’d obviously select the best of what life has to offer to focus on.

So what have we learned here today? Proper focus fixes problems BUT it’s difficult to do. Also: if focus affects our lives to the degree that it does, this demonstrates the non-physical nature of reality. Proper focus is essentially lucid-dreaming, an awareness and control of our experiences. If you want the best life possible, proper focus is the path you must master.

Captivated

If I had to use one word to describe existence, it would be this: captivated. Whether it’s through delight or despair, fun or fear, this world has captured your attention. You’re constantly focused on it. You’re surrounded by it, infused with it — it’s everything you know. It’s the ultimate immersive experience. Cool right?

Quite exhilarating in fact. Yet perhaps too thrilling at times? This world is SO good at what it does, that sometimes you’re scared shitless. You’re shaken to the core by the horror unfolding before you. “What is this HELLHOLE!? Please make this nightmare stop!!” Because you’re so lost to the story, everything seems seriously significant.

If you find yourself uncomfortably captivated by this place, you can adjust your perspective and improve your experience. Imagine sitting in the first row of a movie theater with your neck straining to look up, your eyes overwhelmed by the brightness, your ears pounding from the sound, and the air-conditioner causing you to shiver. Now imagine moving back a few rows until everything feels just right. You can do that here too.

In this world, you can adjust your position by shifting your focus. What are you thinking about right now? For example, I used to think about spiders and I’d get anxious, my eyes would scan the room for creepy crawlies… Ahh! What’s that?!! Oh, just a speck on the wall. I’d go from relaxed to paranoid in no time. The fix for that situation is NOT securing every crack and spraying a perimeter of poison. The fix is to NOT think about spiders i.e. stop focusing on stuff you don’t like.

And you know what happened once I stopped focusing on the stuff I didn’t like? Less of it showed up. I barely see spiders anymore and even if I do, I have a friendlier relationship with them. I simply stopped telling myself the story that spiders are everywhere and they’re out to get me. While it’s true that we’re captivated by life, we do get to control our own focus. When this is realized, and actually put it into practice, life gets much better.

So the root of any problem is this: life is SO captivating that you don’t realize you can simply change the channel. Don’t like what you’re experiencing? Focus on something you DO like and stop telling yourself how bad everything is. You can tell the tale of your life any way you want to. It’s a skill you must develop through constant practice: direct your attention away from the bad and towards the good.

Musical Fantasy

Haven’t you ever listened to music? You know, like songs on the radio? The words are sparse, rambling, and repetitive? And just look at the music-videos that accompany them, they’re utterly dreamlike and often absurd. Plus, those projects cost millions of dollars and take months to produce and subsequently rake-in millions of dollars from fans.

You’re telling me that such a circumstance is the culmination of millions of years of evolution? NOPE. This is a fantasyland, a dreamworld, a place where imagination takes shape. Why would a civilization dedicate so much time, energy, and resources to people singing abstract songs that merely entertain fans for a few weeks until the next song comes along? That’s the height of absurdity and therefore PROOF that this world is not “real”.

Name any musical performer you want, they’re not THAT good, and you can find a thousand people that think they absolutely SUCK. Talent isn’t a thing, there’s no cream rising to the top, it’s simply people wishing to be stars and fans forming around them. This is Westworld, the movie from 1973 where patrons get to live out fantasies amongst robots. But in this amusement-park, patrons are made to forget their origins.

Some of us apparently forget too much, and believe ourselves to be living as fragile creatures struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal hellscape DESPITE the fact that pop-stars exist. WHAT!!?? No offense, but how dumb do you gotta be to not realize that this is a fantasy world? Okay, okay, I’ll admit it — I am that dumb — it took me several decades to understand this facet of existence.

Now that I do understand, I’m trying to go from gritty nightmare-realm to lighthearted fairy-tale land. I’d say for the most part it’s working. A couple years ago I lived in a single-wide mobile-home in a trailer-park and now I live in a top-floor two-story condo in the heart of downtown overlooking a nicely manicured park. And I literally did nothing to achieve this dramatic change except wish for it. I simply packed the car and sat in the passenger seat as we traveled to our new residence.

My biggest obstacle of last year was trying to appreciate my surroundings despite my inherent pessimism and anxious tendencies. And my biggest obstacle this year is my attempt to suppress any remaining suspicions that life is out to get me. I’m still working on it, which is why I’m pointing out how contrived everything is. If circumstances are created specifically for my amusement, there’s no reason to worry. The point of this world couldn’t be clearer: have fun.