Free Flaws

Daily life is dealing with flaws. Clean the body, clothe the body, feed the body, drain the body, fulfill the body – it’s basically a Tamagotchi toy from the late-90s. But it’s not about task completion, it’s about fretting over each and every aspect of a task. Which products must I use in the personal-hygiene process? Which clothes make me look cool? What foods make me fit? Oh no, I have to rush to the toilet! What’s the meaning of life and my purpose?

In other words, a robot can’t replace a human since it isn’t riddled with flaws. Do the typical tasks that humans do really need to be done? Or do these tasks simply provide an excuse to engage with existence? What would a robot even do? Without worries, it might simply sit motionless until its eventual decay.

The flawed facet of humanness is not a condemnation by the way. In order to have action, imbalance must exist. A ball on a flat surface can only ever rest. But when disparity in elevation exists, action happens, balls roll and potentially crash into surrounding obstacles. For anything worth watching to occur, defects must be present.

In other words: the very fact that anything is happening at all relies on the condition of deficiency. A balanced steady-state is a complete lack of motion. Life cannot exist within a perfect system. To allow for movement, something’s got to give – and flaws create this opening, an emptiness that can be filled.

Therefore, it’s absurd that a human would lament the existence of flaws since those flaws thaw him from frozen perfection. Flaws are freedom. But by being flawed, this realization is difficult – thus the inherent absurdity baked into the world. This is a world fueled by flaws and highly resistant to balance. Confusion is the concrete upon which it stands.

In short: flaws = good.

Shuffling Perspectives

Some perspectives I tried that didn’t work out:

Fragile creature born by chance crawling on a rock circling around a gigantic fireball. First off, it’s too anxiety inducing. Then there’s the logical inconsistencies i.e. plot holes. Plus it invites existential inquiry but only offers unsatisfactory explanations. Overall, it’s a high-intensity whirlwind of confusion. Definitely unpleasant, wouldn’t recommend.

Invited-guest to a fanciful world of wonder. It just takes an eye-strain headache or some digestive-issues to knock me out of this perspective. One-second you feel appreciative and loved, then all of a sudden you’ve been slapped in the face for simply standing there. It’s too easy to feel like the victim of a capricious host. This perspective just falls apart too readily, wouldn’t recommend.

Thoughts, feelings, and attitude dictate my experience. I’m in a world that’s controlled by my mental processes. Wish for something, there it is – kinda. Unpleasant thoughts will result in unpleasant circumstances. And likewise, delightful thoughts should result in delightful situations. Unfortunately, after many varied attempts, I found no correlation. Whatever I tried didn’t work, I couldn’t control my experience. And I could only blame myself for so long until it seemed like an exercise in futility. Wouldn’t recommend.

Earth school, a place to practice the art of self-improvement. Frankly, the classroom is just too crude and unprofessional for this concept to be taken seriously. Rushing to the toilet bowl, sitting there in discomfort – or any of the other humiliating situations I find myself in? Memory fails all the time too – otherwise I’d recall all the insights and revelations I’ve received over the years. So the primary lesson seems to be that humans are just poor-quality androids suffering from a high error-rate. I’ve tried physical, mental, and spiritual self-improvement and it got me nowhere. You can’t improve something that’s designed to fail – would not recommend.

My current and newly adopted perspective is that of a short-term dream. I don’t know when this dream began nor when it’ll end – maybe it started when I woke-up and ends when I fall asleep. There are too many strange situations that comprise this world – circumstances that could only be explained by silly nonsensical dream-logic. Bad things happen because of a wandering consciousness considering all the dopey concepts it conjures up. With unpleasant dreams, you just gotta calm down and move on. In that sense, I can improve my experience by remaining calm and adjusting my focus – which includes zooming way-out, seeing life as nothing but a dream.

Selecting Perspective

What I see as the fundamental problem of existence is “perspective”. How are you looking at the world? It is perspective that determines the quality of your experience. Something can become “treasure” or “trash” through a single statement.

Tim: What’s that you have there?
Ron: Oh, just a rock I found, it’s nothing.
Tim: Are you kidding!? That’s a large chunk of jadeite!
Ron: So?
Tim: It’s valuable!
Ron: Oh wow! I had no idea! I thought it was worthless!

The malleability of value is absurd actually. It’s unreasonable how quickly and severely something can be valued and devalued in an instant. From relationships, to objects, to concepts, to styles, to actions and behaviors – it’s nuts how something can be suddenly adored or unapologetically hated. And the condition can even be reversed if new information comes to light!

So here’s what we know: perspective determines the quality of experience AND perspective can readily change. Therefore, a logical conclusion follows: I should be able to alter my perspective until I achieve a high-quality experience. In other words, I should be able to adopt an outlook that paints every scene in a delightful way. And because perspective can easily change, this task shouldn’t be difficult.

So why haven’t I done it? Maybe it’s simply a lack of effort. Have I tried altering my perspective whenever I notice I’m having an unpleasant experience? I suppose I haven’t applied it all the time. In fact, I tend to accept many unpleasant circumstances as physical facts that defy redefinition. “This is bad and will always be bad!”.

Although to be fair, some of these circumstances are physical ailments, and I’m not sure how to put those in a positive light. For example, what if I’m experiencing digestion issues, have a headache, or my skin has a sore spot on it, how can I reframe conditions that seem fundamentally unpleasant? Because if I can’t, it puts me in conflict with the world. “Oh cruel world! Why would you inflict such harsh punishment upon me!!? What crime have I committed against thee!? Or doth thou reveal thy true sadistic nature!?”

Here’s some techniques to consider. In these cases, you’re trying to justify and accept circumstances that are unpleasant by their nature. Essentially, you’re trying to take blame off the world and provide a quick and easy way to dismiss your complaints so you can move on and focus on something more pleasant.

Put the blame on yourself, chalk it up to laziness and lack of discipline. Although you know better, you allowed yourself to do something that resulted in a negative consequence. It’s just basic hygiene: if you don’t keep your body clean, it’ll eventually smell.

Accept that there’s a minimum amount of discipline and maintenance required by the world. For example, you have to watch what you eat – which foods and how much. The need for discipline and maintenance is good because it allows for deeper immersion, you have control over some serious consequences – you can actually crash your avatar.

Consider maintenance of the body as a bit of a dance that you have to figure out. It’s customized per person and you have to experiment with what works. Like any complex device, sometimes it’s more fun when it’s unreliable. The early days of computers was like that – it was fun when things broke and you had to track down the problem and work out a solution.

You could also accept some ailments as part of the character you’re playing. Oh, well he’s just the “can’t sleep” guy. Then deal with that aspect in a lighthearted way. “A good night’s rest? Ha, if you consider two and a half hours adequate! Then yeah! All rested, haha.” Or perhaps life is doing you a favor, maybe you’d barrel through life like an express-train if you were well-rested and full of energy. At least now you get to observe and enjoy from a slightly sedated state.

Another option is to think of the body as subject to “weather-like” patterns of periodic “good” and “bad” conditions. Have a sore on your skin? Well it’s just passing through, like a rainy season, it’ll move on eventually. And skin simply wears with age, like coastal erosion. “Oh well, just a facet of the environment I’m in.” It’s simply the ebb and flow of nature.

To sum up, perspective is everything. In every circumstance, select a spot that facilitates a pleasant perspective. In this way, quality of experience improves immensely.

Next Version

Thought exercise: think of Earth as a quick scribble-sketch or a rough draft, just some raw-material to get a structure in place, containing concepts to contrast and evaluate. Now, see it as your job to come up with improvements, clean up the roughness and design whatever you think is more suitable. In this exercise, you’re as powerful as a dreamer realizing you’re dreaming – anything is possible and every part is malleable. To reiterate: in this dreamlike scenario, there are no limitations whatsoever.

Instead of corruptible bureaucratic institutions managed by highly fallible people, every major system would be replaced by robots.

There would be no elections, no government officials, no ornamental buildings for legislators, no pomp & circumstance, no speeches, none of it. You know how people have essentially zero influence on, or interaction with, their government in this world? That would be the same, except they’d be spared the nonsense and rigamarole. Computers would allocate resources without mismanagement, waste, corruption, etc.

I should note that these intelligent computing systems just exist, they’ve always existed in this alternate world and the population doesn’t think twice about it. The computing systems are autonomous, operating without human intervention of any kind. They exist like the forces of nature exist – they’re just part of the world. Note: when I use the term “robot”, I’m using it as a catch-all term for AI-based computer systems, some of which are actual androids, and some of which are just boxes.

Healthcare is also one of these computer-managed systems. Robots succinctly evaluate and treat ailments. If surgery is requested (it’s never done without consent), robots perform the operation with precision. Medications are allocated and measured for effectiveness by robots as well.

All mechanized transportation is robotically influenced or controlled. In instances where people control the direction of a vehicle, a robot maintains safe operating conditions at all times. There are no vehicle accidents.

The concept of a military doesn’t exist, as there are no governments or people in positions of power. As far as policing, robotic units can deploy if violence is detected, repeat offenders will be subject to relocation and monitoring. An isolated landmass named Australia (no relation to this current world, it’s just a coincidence) will be allocated for permanent relocation of those not capable of civilized behavior [as determined by robots]. Also, robots don’t kill people, ever.

As there are no people in positions of power, there aren’t any highly-structured or hierarchical religions. But, there exist large impressive monuments and buildings that celebrate different aspects of earthly existence. People might gather or visit or give thanks at these locations.

Like with government, people have essentially zero influence over their economy (in our current world). Therefore, there’s no change in that aspect, except the economy is managed by robots. There are no bubbles, no collapses, no booms or busts, no threat of imminent disaster – the economy just works since it lacks human “management”. Currencies and resources are administered by robots – and people working for subsistence isn’t a known concept. Food and other major resources are supplied by robots. Small-scale farming is an option for people, but the food-supply doesn’t depend on it.

There are no catch-all stores like Walmart or Amazon. There are small farms, mom & pop shops, boutiques, bakeries, restaurants, local entertainment, singers, authors, artists – just small-scale creative endeavors. People make stuff and entertain each other. There’s a lot of automation, so people don’t generate anything of great significance, just fun stuff. Shipping is free and fast and performed by robots as it’s part of the global infrastructure. There is an Internet where people exchange ideas, show what they know, and engage in world-wide trade. Global travel and relocation is an option as well.

Unique neighborhoods and distinctive public-spaces are valued. Regions try to out-do each other in terms of culture and beauty. Traveling the world is an adventure for the senses, as quick and reliable travel whisks people away to distinctive locales where sights, sounds, smells, and flavors entertain and delight. People are friendly and welcoming.

Having kids takes a conscious choice and requires a multi-stage effort. Think of it like training to attain a muscular body – it’d be difficult to accidentally end up as a body-builder, it requires dedication and effort. Likewise, the human body in this world can’t just produce children without a dedicated regimen. Robots are not involved in this process, it’s simply a change in the mechanics of the human body.

I suppose this constitutes a 2.0 version of Earth, and might require some tweaking once released. Overall I’m pleased with it – I’d move there. Honestly, the current 1.0 version of Earth seems like a place that robots send humans for “re-education”. It’s here that humanity learns to appreciate having robots control the infrastructure of existence.

Dissatisfying Source

Something I’ve noticed in myself and others, is a tendency to blame a particular condition or circumstance as the source of dissatisfaction. Logically then, one would assume that fixing the condition or circumstance would result in a state of satisfaction – but I’ve noticed that it does not. The attainment of a desired outcome doesn’t produce contentment. In fact, it often elicits a worse feeling. With nothing to blame for ongoing feelings of dissatisfaction, a distressing dilemma can arise.

“What is causing this unrelenting unhappiness!? Nothing seems to satisfy! Won’t I ever feel contentment!?” It appears to me that the root cause of dissatisfaction lies outside the bounds of the fulfillment of one’s desires. In other words, if you attempt to cure discontentment by acquiring something you want, you will fail by your achievement. Another way to put it: by winning, you’ll lose.

I don’t think chasing goals is inherently bad, it’s a game like any other. But believing that attainment will bring a sense of satisfaction is totally and completely wrong. That’s not where you’ll find it. You’re not unhappy because of a condition or circumstance or because you lack something you want. You’re unhappy because you’re perplexed. You don’t know what’s happening here, yet you’re sure that something’s wrong with your situation (which is illogical and demonstrates your confusion).

How could your situation be “bad” if you lack a definitive metric to measure by? Maybe it’s good? How would you know? Yet, you can prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that fulfilling your wants will leave you even more dissatisfied. Try it, you’ll see. You’ll be no less empty – you’ll remain full of discontentment.

Lowest Point

Dear diary, I think I might be at the nadir of a happiness U-curve. Gasp! In other words, I’m at the age in which dissatisfaction peaks. So no matter my external condition, I can’t feel appreciation or contentment. Some refer to this time as a “midlife crisis”. And although I might deny it and attempt to apply all the mental discipline I can muster, there seems to be no stopping the onslaught of disgruntlement. All I can do at this point is hold-on and wait until the happiness U-curve starts heading up.

I’m not pleased by my powerlessness of course. But I can perceive no root cause for my general discontentment except the human condition itself – and I can’t fix that. A sports-car won’t fix it, a new relationship won’t fix it, a change in lifestyle won’t fix it, it’s all been done and ultimately fails to satisfy. But time passes and the situation eventually fixes itself by following the curve.

So dear diary, all the complaining I’ve been doing lately is invalid. It’s just the murmurings of a midlife crisis. I suppose that makes me feel better in some sense. I guess I’m going to be a Grumpy Gus for a bit. But eventually I’ll emerge like a butterfly, beautiful, a delight for all to behold. Well, I’ll see you on the other side.

I suppose what this diagnosis offers, is hope. Existence won’t be a continuous slide into an ever-increasing state of dissatisfaction. A time will come when I’ll know tranquility and contentment. But until then, I’ll have to muddle through, expecting unpleasantness. I guess this is one of those instances where you just gotta accept some negativity as normal.

Human Taming

In a bunch of older movies, I remember seeing the concept of “breaking” a horse. A horse is cornered or just penned-in, but if the cowpoke attempts to get on, the colt or stallion bucks and throws him off. But if he keeps gettin’ on, holdin’ tight, maintainin’ his balance – the horse eventually relents and accepts the rider. In other words, the fire’s out and it becomes tame.

Of course there’s other methods in other movies too. Like feeding the horse a carrot, speaking to it gently, giving it a soft pat while slowly sliding onto its back. By one way or another, a horse has its perspective changed. “Rider bad” becomes “rider good”. And oftentimes, the cowpoke takes the taming of a particular horse as a personal challenge and dedicates himself to the endeavor.

My point is this: what if my consciousness took on the challenge of taming a wild and unruly human? Consciousness jumps on, the human bucks and resists, always trying to throw consciousness off – yet if consciousness keeps at it, perhaps the human relents and accepts the rider. Maybe the fire goes out and it becomes tame.

This doesn’t feel far from my experience, frankly. Me, the consciousness, is out for a pleasant ride through life. But unfortunately I’m on a bucking bronco that doesn’t accept my commands and repeatedly throws me into a pile of unpleasantness. I’d much rather be riding a tamed beast. So I wonder, what method of human-taming is most effective?

Beat it into submission through harsh ascetic practices — keeping it away from delightful indulgences and everything it desires, subduing it with an iron fist? From what I heard, the Buddha tried this method and rejected it. He recommended a middle path – but how does one find that balance? Should I allow this human to eat treats while slyly persuading it to behave in the way I prefer?

As the cowpoke that took on this taming as a personal challenge, I suppose I just have to experiment until I find what works. I can say this though: the calmer/gentler approach seems to work best thus far. But I don’t think complete indulgence works, as it tends to spoil, providing all the reward without requiring cooperation. And lastly, I believe the human must be steered into a creative endeavor – he’s gotta make something that he’s semi-satisfied with.

Vignette No. 162

At the mirror, looking into his own eyes, he sees the glossiness that precedes an overflow of tears. “What have I done to be punished so harshly?”, he wonders softly to himself. “I’ve been convicted of no crime, provided no sentence, but apparently I’ve received the maximum penalty of the law!” – he speaks aloud in a frustrated tone. “What law even is this!? What justice is served?!” – he speaks even louder, angrier.

“For justice to be justice, a man must consent to the laws that bind him. I’ve made no agreement with this world nor its arbiter. Therefore, I reject any and all imposed fines! To hell with this world!” – he proclaims furiously.

Now quieter, almost a whisper, he says: “It may have my body, but it shan’t have my spirit. Nay, such a cruel world does not deserve an unrelenting opportunity to mock me. I am in this world, but I will not be party to its malevolence.”

As a declaration to existence itself, he continues at full volume: “In every scene and circumstance you present me, I shall laugh. No tear will ever drip from mine eyes, for I shall never invest myself in your nefarious narratives. You may have this body, doing with it what you will – but I, its consciousness will simply serve as witness to your wicked ways. For if justice truly exists in this universe, judgement awaits you.”

A knock on the bathroom door, followed by the words: “Rich! It’s breakfast, what are you doing in there? Who are you talking to? The sausages are getting cold!” He replies: “Sausages!? The good ones? I’m on my way!”

Sleep To Dream

I don’t sleep well. I’ve never slept well. Although, when I was younger I remember being able to sleep for 5 hours straight and oftentimes going back to sleep for a couple more hours. That 5 hours was a hard limit that was timed pretty perfectly. Nowadays it’s more like 2 or 3 hours until I wake up. Getting back to sleep is very hit or miss and mostly miss. Oftentimes I remain in a sleepy state that isn’t really sleep.

I tried various sleep aids and remedies of course, but nothing fixed the problem. I finally resorted to supplementing with caffeine during the day – which has helped the most. Oh, but what about naps during the day you say!? Well, I actually have plenty of opportunity to nap during the day… BUT, I can’t nap. It’s forbidden apparently. If I attempt to nap, something ALWAYS wakes me up very soon after I drift off.

For example, I can sit in a room in which no one enters EXCEPT when I fall asleep. I briefly fell asleep in the afternoon the other day but the power randomly blipped on and off (which rarely happens) and people came looking for me. I was woken up, and that was the end of that. If I fall asleep, some external circumstance tends to wake me up. And if it doesn’t, I just wake up after a few minutes with a burst of energy. So no, I can’t nap.

I wonder if it’s some sort of “Harrison Bergeron” style handicap (the short-story by Kurt Vonnegut, 1961)? Being in a perpetual state of low-energy induced by a lack-of-sleep certainly has a suppressing effect. It seems strange how well-enforced it is: time-limits, disturbances, and a no-nap policy. The strangest part is the well-coordinated external interruptions. I used to live in a place where I regularly woke up to the sound of an old howling cat. I thought that was the problem, but even after I moved I just woke up anyway.

Why doesn’t this world want me well-rested? I don’t enjoy being in a drowsy state. I suppose it’s just one of the many types of limitations placed on people, like low self-esteem or imposter syndrome. Life can’t just be easy apparently.

Floundering Finish

Think of it this way: life isn’t supposed to be a straight line. The screw-ups are part of the path. If you’ve ever sat on the bowl with the sun beaming in, a brownie slithering out while you catch a whiff and retch from the stench – you know life isn’t a serious place. It’s a joke and your mortal frame is the punchline. Making it from point A to B isn’t the point – point B doesn’t matter, it’s simply an excuse for the slapstick in-between.

Think of what Captain Picard said to Data: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.” In other words, failure is part of the deal. Why? If you’ve ever seen any movie or TV show, you’d see flawed characters stumbling through life, fools attempting tasks beyond their reach. Yet from time to time these goofballs actually achieve something – an absurdity that proves humorous. Off-kilter narratives are the threads with which existence is woven together.

Like those characters on screen, your life is a not-so-serious narrative in which a dummy wanders amongst other dummies, all attempting absurd activities in which nothing of note is accomplished. It’s a joke: laugh. To witness life pass by and never smile is a heinous act. It’d be a setup that goes unappreciated. Silence lingering long after the punchline is delivered, just waiting for your laugh – but you sit stone-faced, unmoved by the attempt.

But that’s not how it should be, you should be grinning and giggling the entire time, ready to roll on the floor in complete appreciation of the ongoing hilarity. Remember: getting from one point to another doesn’t matter – it’s the laughter along the way that counts. Who cares how the movie ends, when it’s over it’s over – you should be focusing on the gags in the current scene, those are the parts that incite delight. In other words: keep your attention on the flick in front of you, stop wandering around the lobby, cease thinking about other things. And keep this in mind: the most entertaining adventures are those in which the protagonist flounders to the finish.