Seven Year Itch

It’ll be a month shy of seven years when we depart at the end of this week. And even though this is only a thousand squarefoot house, we sure did find ways to stuff it with stuff. So a lot of my time has been dedicated to emptying it. There’s a few places where you can redistribute the stuff though: there’s the regular weekly trash pickup, there’s dropping things off at Goodwill, there’s selling items on Facebook Marketplace, and there’s services that pickup your junk with a truck and take it to the dump. And of course you can bring some of it with you, and for that, we’re going to fill a small storage container that’ll be shipped to our new location.

I was most excited to get rid of the lawnmower. Yesterday was my last day of mowing and someone bought the mower a few hours later. I could write an essay about how much I disliked mowing every week for half-the-year for every year we lived here — but I won’t — as that would be a poor use of my focus and attention. Instead, I’ll just quietly reflect on my newfound freedom from the tyranny of landscaping. Deep breath. In…. Out….

To be honest, I never wanted to live in this house, it was my wife’s idea. I’ve been waiting to leave since we moved in. I wouldn’t mind returning to the general area though, I like it. I really should have appreciated this house more while I lived in it though — that’s my bad. Because really, my wish in life is for a myriad of delightful surprises, so I don’t actually want a say in where I live — surprise me! But my problem is that I criticize everything I’m given instead of appreciating what’s good about it. That’s a dumb strategy by the way.

So I guess the test begins again when I leave. I’ve had seven years to reflect on life and its meaning — but life isn’t all theory is it, there’s a practical exam too. Speaking of which, you know what would make this story more interesting? Some chaos and calamity! And that’s true isn’t it? So don’t wonder why turmoil exists, it’s what provides the most captivating content. If this story was all about near-misses and redemption and a love gone wrong, you’d be glued to your seats just lickin’ up the drama. Lucky for me I like boring stuff.

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Becoming Childlike

It is written: We must become as little children.

Have you ever seen the sheer delight on a child’s face at the mere mention of a simple treat? Or have you ever witnessed the unflinching forgiveness and fearlessness a child has toward a parent. “You’re my mommy and I love you!” — nothing gets between that sentiment.

So here’s the deal. You grow up. You get jaded. A treat just isn’t going to cut it anymore. And now you’re scared — you’ve been hurt too many times to forgive. Now it’s “Leave me alone! I hate you!”

So what happened? Is your creator a wicked monster that beat the love and wonder out of you? Or, did you just get spooked and run away to hide in the darkest dingiest hole you could find?

Let’s analyze this for a second. Either your creator is a horrible sadist hell-bent on torturing you… or, you were a bit overwhelmed and had a bad reaction. Have you ever seen how some teenagers overreact to perfectly reasonable parents?

Listen, you’ve got to settle down and stop acting like an angsty teen. Your creator is not trying to ruin your life, your creator has your best interests in mind, your creator loves you now and always. You misunderstood and were frightened, no big deal.

Now get back to delight and appreciation, return to forgiveness and fearlessness. Reach out and feel the love of a creator that wants nothing more than to give you the gift of existence. Show your smile, say thanks, maybe “I love you too”.

News Narrative

The news paints a narrative. And according to the news, human life is primarily composed of crime, corruption, exploitation, and suffering. Imagine aliens watched nothing but our news, what picture would they develop about humanity?

News is not telling a tale that benefits its consumers, it’s junk-food. Junk-food approximates food, but lacks nutritiousness — and if you attempt to live off of it, your body will be at a disadvantage compared to consuming a healthier diet.

In other words, the news is not what’s happening, it only approximates what’s happening — and in fact it’s the worst of what’s happening. Consequently, if we feed our mind the worst of what’s happening, it will affect the way in which we perceive the world.

Tragedy will seem a common component of everyday life. People won’t be people, they’ll be outlandish caricatures. The news is not a simple survey of current events, it’s comprised of the opinions of producers, editors, publicists, managers, marketers, and reporters.

The simple fact is this: there is no source by which we can receive an objective survey of the ongoings of humanity. Even our own perspective skews our interpretation of events.

The point is this: don’t feel obligated to “stay informed” — it’s an impossible task. And if you attempt to “stay informed” by consuming a junk-food-diet of information, you’ll be worse off.

This condition of unknowableness is a good thing by the way, it gives us license to paint our own picture of what’s going on. And the most sensible picture to paint, is one that looks good to you — one that fills you with feelings you actually want to experience.

If you truly enjoy fear and hopelessness, then sure tune into the news. But if love, laughter, and delight suit your tastes better, then seek out sources that paint a more palatable picture.

Surprise Party

I keep hearing this message: if you practice appreciation, things get substantially better. In other words, when you actively look for the good in your circumstances, and you’re thankful for what you find, then good stuff will keep coming your way.

It’s as if you’re telling life “hey I like all this good stuff, thanks a lot, can I please have some more?”. Otherwise, if you maintain a pessimistic, complaint-filled attitude, you’re essentially telling life “hey, everything you provide for me sucks, please stop sending me stuff or I’ll keep complaining — leave me the f*ck alone!” And life-the-fulfillment-generator, ever wanting to please, does exactly as you ask.

Oh and life doesn’t go for that “do as I say, not as I do” bullsh*t. If you superficially ask for something awesome, and then think negative-thoughts the whole rest of the day, then those vain wishes won’t register with life. You gotta walk-the-walk. If you want awesome stuff, then you have to display that desire to life in the form of constant appreciation.

One important aspect of displaying appreciation, is to stop focusing on yourself. For example, if Jen throws you a surprise party, does Jen want to hear about how scared you were when she jumped out? Does Jen want to hear you criticize her choice of decorations? Does Jen want to hear about how much the cake doesn’t quite suit your tastes? NO! Of course not! Jen wants to hear a sincere “Wow, thank you Jen! This was amazing!”.

If you can’t praise the item itself, praise the effort and generosity behind it. “But Rich! I can’t find anything good in my life! Everything sucks!” Then you’re not trying hard enough. You’re being lazy. And now, the onus is on you — life doesn’t suck, you suck for being such a self-centered, whining brat. Life provides a veritable playground-of-adventure, and all you can do is nitpick. Sheesh.

And if you want to personify the creative-force-underlying-life as God, then go right ahead: God the creator, by your benevolent generosity, you’ve provided a garden for me to play within. It’s amazing, I love it! The complete immersion I feel here is incredible, I so often believe myself to be an embodied being — full of emotions and all kinds of sensations. Everyday you provide interesting circumstances with which to engage my attention. I’m absolutely amazed by the spectacle before me, the narratives go this way and that — I’m always surprised! For this gift you have given me, I in return give you my ever-present gratitude. I am honored to be here experiencing existence — thank you.

Parade Politics

If you want to understand the immigration debate, try finding a seat at a parade.

When the early-birds show up, the world is their oyster, plenty of room for everyone. They’ll even set up some coolers filled with chilled beverages. Folding chairs are everywhere. This is open-country, and they’ll do with it as they please.

When the on-time people start arriving (slightly before the parade starts), the early-birds eye them suspiciously and man their defenses — they’ll hunker down, get to their chairs and shoot judgmental looks all around, securing their territory.

But when the late-people get there, the “laties” as I call them (arriving at the start-time or after) — oh boy, well they just expect to squeeze-in anywhere or perhaps they’ll go right to the front. Some will claim a form of hardship to try and garner sympathy.

We forget that what we’re there for, is to celebrate our union, our togetherness, in the form of a festive procession. Yet we’re territorial tribalists putting party-first as soon as some “others” show up looking to squeeze our space into something smaller than it was.

I’m usually an on-timer by the way, so I view the early-birds as idealist dreamers willfully refusing to accept the fact that others will be coming. Of course there are more people coming, make some room! But man, I am not a fan of “laties”. I sit in my small spot, maybe even in the back, as I try to be respectful and well-behaved — therefore, I can sympathize with early-birds at that point when late-people start showing-up and make my small space even smaller while some even stand right in front of me (so rude!).

I start to think… if only they capped it off and didn’t allow laties into the audience at some point. How can you do that at a parade though? Yet I see this scenario playing out at every event I attend. But if a problem follows you around, the problem is probably you. So of course the real solution for me, is to not focus on the audience, but focus on the show. Why get so entranced by territorial matters when that’s not why I’m there.

In other words, my lack of focus is causing my discomfort. Even if there wasn’t a “laties” issue, then I might focus on the excesses of the early-birds. Or maybe, god-forbid, there’s a smoker next to me. If I’m looking to be perturbed, I can always find something to dislike (seek, and ye shall find). Moral of the story: stop whining and enjoy the show.

Real or NPC

Being that I believe in Simulation Theory, I tend to evaluate people on the basis of whether they’re actual players or merely NPCs (non-player characters). I was thinking about designing an evaluation to determine who’s who — like a Turing Test. But of course it relies on the assumption that other players share my perspective — it’s possible that other players relate to the game in a vastly different manner than I do. But I suppose it’s also possible that I’m not really a player, but a confused NPC.

From my perspective at least, I tend to judge people as actual players if they exhibit the following behaviors.

They demonstrate an appreciation for the absurdity of their humanness. In other words, “wow existence is weird huh?”

They demonstrate a well-functioning sense of humor. Being a human that poots and poops is a silly thing. Because we’re not natively so, being a human is an awkward experience that’s inherently funny.

They demonstrate an inability in dealing with humanness, i.e. they’re not an automaton effortlessly performing an assigned role. In other words, they don’t mechanically adhere to pre-fabricated societal roles. They’re confused or frustrated at times by the concept of existing — they may have an existential crisis for instance.

They try to figure out who they are and what their character is capable of. They engage in introspection and wonder about themselves.

Well those are just a few quick ideas. Again, I can obviously pass this test because it’s designed around me. But perhaps other players have a different way of experiencing the game. So, it’s not a sure thing. It’s also possible that we’re all players, and some of us just have a shallow gameplay style.

In other words, some people aren’t providing their full attention, their character is on auto-pilot most of the time. Whereas in a lot of video-games I’ll turn the “assists” and “auto-pilot” modes off and try to do everything manually. It could be the case with this world too, where I’m attempting to manually control my character without relying on too much assistance (or I just suck at this game even with the helper settings turned on).

Anxious Dialog

The great thing about anxiety, is that you only have to defeat the concept itself, not the actual things you’re worried about. And being that anxiety is merely an abstract idea, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

(Note: Please excuse the language, I’m heavily influenced by the shows and movies I watch.)

Anxiety: Heya Rich, so what we gonna worry ’bout today?
Rich: F*ck you b*tch. You outta my life now.
Anxiety: Aw come on baby, lemme get ya heart-rate goin’ with a little fright.
Rich: I said leave me the F*CK alone.
Anxiety: You think you can get ridda me that easy hon? Ain’t no thang to scare little ol’ you. BOO!
Rich: [stare intensifies]
Anxiety: Did you hear that!? I think I heard something!
Rich: [stillness]
Anxiety: I thought we was friends, now you gonna play me like this?
Rich: You ain’t never been mah frien’. Always teasin’ never helpin’.
Anxiety: I did that for YOU! You the lazy summab*tch that sought me out, just a trick addin thrills to yo’ borin-ass life.
Rich: Well I ain’t need you no mo’.
Anxiety: You jus’ gonna abandon me that easy? Why you treat me so cold!?
Rich: ‘Cause I can! Now get the f*ck outta here, you ain’t sh*t to me.
Anxiety: Baby, you ‘n me was so good together, don’t give that up!
Rich: Already done.
Anxiety: Who is it!!? Who you replacin’ me with!?
Rich: Naw ain’t like that. Imma just be me now.
Anxiety: I won’t let you go that easy!!
Rich: You jus vapor, ain’t nothin real ’bout you.
Anxiety: If I’m nothin why you talkin ta me?
Rich: I’m talkin’ to me. And this conversation is over.