Eighties Kid

The 80s!? Yeah, I was there man. I was just a kid, but weren’t we all. I was sportin a velour shirt with corduroy pants, my hair a bit too long, and sneakers fastened with newly invented Velcro straps. Those were the times man! It’s what we were wearin. Yeah I rode my bike around the neighborhood unsupervised. That’s what we did, children of the Moonwalk era — there were glitter gloves and copious amounts of hairspray spewing from large aerosol cans. Yeah I sprayed that stuff all OVER my hair! What of it!? The ozone-layer is overrated anyway.

The 80s were like, totally awesome, like, you know? That’s just like, how we spoke. Everything was awesome. And if you were from where I was from, anything better than awesome was wicked-awesome. We’d head down to Papa Ginos and play Pac-Man or Space Invaders while waiting for our pizza. The cola-wars were heating up around this time too: Coke or Pepsi. Though really, we just ordered whichever they served.

I remember going over to my neighbor’s house to play Atari. Eventually we got a ColecoVision console of our own. I even remember Pong. And TV?! TVs had two dials that cranked from U to 13 and 14 to 83 — but only like 7 channels had any shows on them — and you had to adjust the rabbit-ear antennas to get anything to come-in. Sure, your cousin had cable-TV but she lived in the next town over, and your town didn’t have cable yet — those were the breaks.

Kid-culture propagated through sleep-overs, out-of-state cousins, and summer-camps. When it came time, everyone knew the incantation to perform: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board…” or how to play “Murder in the Dark”. Otherwise, we learned stuff through music and movies. We all knew the “King of Pop” and E.T. We rebelled with our hair, our clothes, and of course our music. You don’t understand, OLD MAN! This is OUR time!

Ronald Regan was the president and my sister received Wonder Woman Underoos for her birthday. It was underwear that made you look and feel like a superhero underneath your clothes. Now that’s… wicked awesome! Sure, we had the threat of nuclear annihilation to ponder as we laid our heads down to sleep at night, and we dreamt of post-apocalyptic hell-scapes — but those were the times man. Well it was either that, or we had nightmares after watching Poltergeist or a Freddy Krueger movie.

In the 80s, phones weren’t something you carried around with you, they were hard-wired to the wall. And if you wanted to call someone, good luck! It was a shared device amongst an entire family and the person you wanted to contact needed to be in the right place at the right time. And more than likely, some random family member would answer. And the only game you played on the phone, was making prank-calls. Back then, you didn’t know who was on the other end of the line until they told you.

The food? Breakfast began with a box of Lucky Charms poured into a bowl, followed by a splash of milk, alongside a Dixie-cup filled with orange-juice not-from-concentrate. The prize/toy from the box was already gone, you’d have reached your entire arm inside when your mom first brought home the cereal-box from the supermarket. Lunch was bologna (pronounced “baloney”) on factory-made white-bread with a squirt of yellow stuff, and a box of sweetened colored liquid to wash it down (it wasn’t juice).

I’ve never been nostalgic about the 80s, and I sure as hell wouldn’t start now. The 80s began almost four decades ago — it was my introduction to Earth as a little kid. People were dressed in outlandish outfits, had wild teased-up hair, and applied an over-abundance of makeup (women AND men). I didn’t know what to make of it. The 90s made a lot more sense to me: widespread cable-TV, Grunge music, plain-looking clothes, computers, and of course the Internet.

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Alone in the World

I think solipsism has its advantages — it’s the idea that I’m the only player in the game. It puts all responsibility on me, which may sound daunting, but I don’t take it too seriously. My primary takeaway is that everything that happens to me is MY fault — which sounds bad, but also means I can fix it. I’m not a passive victim of my surroundings, I’m the guy in charge. I may be a masochist that likes to hurt myself — but anytime I want, I can change those circumstances.

So when I think of my childhood for instance, I did it, I caused all that nonsense. WHY? Well apparently I’m a masochist that enjoys freaking myself out. There was no other perpetrator but me, not my mom, dad, siblings, relatives, schoolmates, teachers, strangers — no one but me to blame. Within that context, I never even deal with the concept of forgiveness — there’s no one to forgive. I made the mistake, I was in a negative mental-state and caused myself to have an unpleasant experience — that’s it — done.

So nowadays, if I’m having a tense interaction with another person, I say to myself: “whoa, I must be in a bad mood, I’m even manifesting an unpleasant scene. I better calm down and get in a good-mood, obviously my attitude is causing this negative scenario to develop right before my eyes.” And it works, I don’t blame anyone but myself — and when I further analyze my mental state, I find that I WAS in a bad mood prior to the tense interaction. The evidence is there, I DID do it.

I’ve had this perspective for awhile now, and it’s worked wonders. It’s allowed me to leapfrog over that whole “coming to terms” with people stuff, I don’t have to hash anything out, I don’t have to “forgive” anyone. It’s like it never happened. I suppose it’s a cheat-code of sorts — but I’m fine with that. And who knows, it might even be true.

Seeing is Believing

Dear Rich, what if magic ISN’T real, what if random-chance IS the only determiner of outcomes, what if the world IS a harsh and brutal hell-scape in which you must struggle for survival? What if you’re only deluding yourself?

Well dear reader, unfortunately the cat’s already outta the bag. When I was younger, those possibilities had some plausibility, but I’m too old now and I’ve experienced too much. Wishes work, random-chance is a fictional mechanism, and the world is a well-functioning fulfillment factory. And I did delude myself for several decades in fact, I kept telling myself how scary and horrible the world was. Now that I’ve seen otherwise, I can’t go back.

Yes I still see some nasty things, but those scenes are just remnants of a reforming masochist. There’s no doubt that you’ll see whatever you want to see in this world — it’s a fulfillment factory, remember? I can still conjure up gloomy days, but beyond the clouds I can sense the sun is always there, shining bright as always. Whenever I want, I can let go of my character, I can stop focusing on my story and become the watcher. From that vantage point, the intensity resets — I return whenever I’m ready.

The idea of random-chance is a scare-tactic used to make life seem more thrilling and dangerous. It’s fun for sure, but it’s only a mechanism of make-believe. It’s great if you’re a masochist attempting to evoke a sense of suspense and potential doom.

Logic and the lack-of-magic is a limiting-mechanism, an artificial obstacle — this concept adds constraints to make accomplishment seem impossible. But it’s just a story-telling gimmick to make life appear harder than it is — which increases frustration (a favorite feeling of masochists).

The idea of struggling within a harsh world is another scare-tactic. But if you examine the concept closely, it’s such an easy facade to see-through. In my own life for example, obviously my cunning, skill, and vigilance aren’t the reasons I’m still alive — that’s absurdly comical. So anytime I go into “survival mode” I laugh at myself — me versus the world is a silly concept. My existence is sustained by a benevolent author that resides beyond my character — and that’s a fact.

I tried to trick myself into believing otherwise — and I was good at it, so good in fact, that I eventually scared myself awake. I was so full of fear and worry and despair that I finally lost all energy to sustain the deception. I was so despondent that I shut down. And without the energy to maintain the contrived concepts of random-chance, logic-based lack, and the need for struggle, I finally saw life without the lens-of-negativity. Without all that self-imposed pessimism, life seemed okay.

But of course, a good masochist isn’t going to give up that easy. It took many years of back-and-forth to finally get to the point of truly grasping the benevolent nature of existence. The proof was all around me of course, but I stubbornly refused to accept it.

So dear reader, this isn’t a mere “belief” I have, there’s no “faith” involved, I’m not “hoping” these things are true. The life I’m experiencing right now is literally full of magic, it’s lacking in random-chance, I’m not struggling, and the world is actually a pleasant place to live.

Magical Morning

You talk a good game, and it sounds like you’re attempting to crawl out from beneath that crushing rock of negativity, but are you actually having fun?!

Okay, okay, fair question, well check it out. Today, I had a Magical Morning with Michelle. We went for a walk at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just a walk, simply strolling around for the fun and fitness. It was the perfect weather too, blue-skies and temps in the mid-60s. Since we were pretty early, the parking was perfect — from our car we simply walked to the front gate and waltzed right through, no waiting anywhere. Yes there were crowds, yes some people were waiting, but not us — it was a smooth flow right through. That’s magic.

The sights, the sounds, the smells — it was a pretty day at the park. I could smell the buttered popcorn cooking. We wove through the throngs of bustling tourists, delighting in our aimless jaunt — no ride-lines to wait in, no reservations to keep, just out and about enjoying the atmosphere. It didn’t take us long to traverse the entire place, probably about an hour, we walked a couple of miles in total. We did stop to watch the Stormtroopers march at one point. And I’m glad they’re putting in the Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars attraction, it should add a bit more space for walking.

How’s that for fun, huh? It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea, but it sure is mine. Walt Disney World was my childhood happy-place and it’s good to be back. I tried living here a decade ago but I just couldn’t accept it — my pessimistic, lack-minded, masochistic tendencies flared up and I had to leave. But now that I’m relinquishing pessimism, abandoning lack-mindedness, and discarding masochism — I’m feeling a real sense of enjoyment here. It was even my idea to go today, it just seemed like an enjoyable way to spend the morning.

And all it took was several decades of self-inflicted suffering to finally get to this point! Not bad! Imagine being so stubborn that you refused to see the world in any other way than a harsh and brutal landscape hell-bent on your destruction. I was convinced that life meant pain and hardship, that random-chance was the only determiner of outcomes, that all this was a futile experience not worth having. Oops. But I suppose that’s just my story-arc, the typical Scrooge-like character that couldn’t see the goodness that surrounded him. I’m finally waking up to a new and glorious day in which I see the glistening greatness of this world.

Procuring Pain

Dear Rich, why am I a masochist?

Well dear reader, you seek out pain in its various forms because it’s an easy way to feel alive. So not only are you a masochist, but you’re lazy. You use fear to make even the mundane seem thrilling, you use frustration to make your blood boil in every endeavor, you actively suppress your own enjoyment of life, and you use hurt to sour every experience.

You and I both know you can do better. First, let’s accept that you’ve been purposefully torturing yourself for lo these many years. Cheap thrills, I get it. But that kind of fun doesn’t last forever, you need something more meaningful. And that “something” is already inside of you waiting to come out, yet you’ve been preventing its development.

Second: if you want to stop the pain, stop hitting yourself. The pain you’ve been feeling is self-inflicted. Third: when you cease seeking the cheap thrills produced by pain, a more meaningful path through life appears to you. From there, you do you. THAT’S the person you were meant to be, the one that surfaces when you stop your stupid hobby of humiliation.

And the best part, my dear lazy reader, is that you simply need to stop your pain-producing efforts. That’s right, you need to become even lazier! Just sit there and watch for now. Observe what you’re doing to yourself — then the absurdity of the act will cause you to stop. Once you see the torment happening in real-time, your own sense of decency will kick in.

Masochism Maelstrom

Note: in this context, masochist means someone that seeks out pain on purpose.

You might be a masochist if…

You constantly provide yourself with content to complain about e.g. reading the news, browsing an infuriating website, communicating with certain acquaintances, watching shows that make you feel bad, etc.

In your mind, you dredge up unpleasant scenes from your past or you imagine an unpleasant future.

You keep performing an activity despite poor performance, all while maintaining a losing-mindset, causing you to fail at aspects you would normally succeed at.

You avoid things that might actually be fun for you.

You insist on doing things the hard way.

You intensely focus on minor aches/pains and other discomforts, allowing them to influence your life and daily routine.

Is masochism just a personal preference that should be honored?

No, it’s a low-quality way to spend your time. It’s like eating junk-food instead of consuming something nutritious. In the long run, you don’t feel satisfied by the pain, you feel empty and incomplete.

So how does one stop being a masochist?

You’ll need to replace it with something better, something more nourishing. The first step is to recognize that you’re a masochist and that you’re done with the pain-loving lifestyle. Next, you’re gonna wanna take some time to think about the painful and frustrating life that YOU have been putting yourself through. You sadistic sicko. Next, you’ll need to seek out new ways to spend your time. Since you won’t be torturing yourself any longer, you’ll need some new hobbies.

This will take some effort, but you can do it. There’s creative pursuits, pleasant activities, lighthearted entertainment, loving something, connecting with others, celebrating stuff, being helpful — whatever incites delight. And during this exploration and experimentation time, you’ll need to recognize those moments when you’re absentmindedly seeking out pain — when you see it, shut it down. Luckily you can use the feeling of pain as an alarm to indicate that you’re doing something masochistic again. In brief: feel pain, stop doing what you’re doing, do something better instead.

Masochistic Delight

So I’m sitting there in the War Robots lobby looking at the scrolling chat, and this guy is complaining about something not working right. And believe me, EVERY complaint about War Robots is probably legit — there’s so much to complain about –in fact, I do it all the time. Yet we all still show up to play the game. WHY!!?? The game literally abuses us in every way possible. So I contributed to the conversation and said, “well yeah, I think you gotta love some level of abuse to play this game.”

And then it hit me, I’m a freakin masochist!!! It’s like one of those M. Night Shyamalan moments when your life flashes before your eyes and all the clues were there, but you just couldn’t recognize them at the time. It’s dead-obvious now that I’m analyzing it — but I always thought it was such a dumb concept: who the heck would purposefully seek out pain? Uh, um, well, me I guess. Please hurt me!! Thank you, may I have another!!?

I’m always playing games in which I suffer frustrating losses. Even this blog frustrates me. My relationships frustrate me. Food frustrates me. It turns out, EVERYTHING frustrates me! YET, I keep going back for more.

So then I started thinking about memorable circumstances throughout my life. Would things have gone more smoothly if I had only trusted life and stopped trying to fight at every turn — if I had simply gone with the flow? And my conclusion was: no, not really. BUT, what readily and reliably explains the circumstances of my life: I’m a masochist! It’s as if the scenes I experienced were professionally designed to evoke maximum frustration!

If you think about it though, games are typically designed to introduce frustration, that’s their underlying nature. An obstacle prevents your progress — and until you overcome it, you’re frustrated by it. And the MORE frustrating a challenge is, the MORE it draws you in. That’s why the concept of “playing hard to get” can work in the realm of romance. If it’s easy, who cares. But if it’s difficult to attain, that’s a challenge that’ll keep you interested! That’s something you can dedicate yourself to!

If you quickly get through a game, it’s over — there’s nothing left to do. Whereas if challenges continually keep you from getting to the end, you literally might play for years. Sure you’re frustrated, but you keep going and going and going. You MUST reach the end no matter what it takes!!! So that’s life in a nutshell: a series of unconquerable tasks that string you along to the end. After all these years here, I haven’t mastered ANYTHING — and apparently, I’m not supposed to.

And if I did master life’s challenges, there’d be nothing left to accomplish. It’d be: “You Win!” followed by: “Game Over”.

So the question becomes: can I participate in this game-of-life while only experiencing minimal frustration? Must I always find myself maximally frustrated? Is pain simply my preference? I honestly don’t feel like it is, but ample evidence says otherwise. I would theorize that it’s possible to give up the pain-loving lifestyle if I develop an alternate means in which to appreciate life. For example, maybe I could develop a taste for winning.

As it is, I barely care if I win. But when I lose, oh boy, I can feel that frustration brewing. That’s something real. What a thrill it is to feel dominated and defeated!! In every path of life, I’ve felt that same frustration from my inabilities. I’m nothing but a weak and worthless moron that can’t do anything right. A loser. A loser lapping up frustration like it’s the tastiest cake on Earth. Sicko.

Therefore, having recognized my masochistic tendencies AND having recognized that I do not enjoy the level of pain produced by said tendencies, I hereby declare that I will work towards developing a new way to appreciate life. I will celebrate the victories and the revelry, the camaraderie and the creativity, the gentle and the loving — I am done delighting in despair and the not-fair.