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.

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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.

Dueling Perspectives

You’ll notice that much of life as a human is just trying to “keep it together”: I wanna snap! No, don’t do it! Okay, I’ll try to remain calm. Ugh! I can’t do it! I’m gonna go nuts!! No, no, smooth and steady, maintain composure. Ahh I can’t take this!! Yet if all you’ve ever known was being human, shouldn’t “being human” come naturally? Should simple daily-life contain such struggle? Hmm….

Well, unless you weren’t always human. Or maybe you’re not “just” a human. I know when I play a video-game for instance, it’s often a struggle to get the little character to do what I want. No, turn up! UP! Gah! Dumb controller doesn’t respond to my lightening-quick reflexes! Again, life makes more sense when you view it in terms of a game-character and a game-player.

Obviously, controlling the character we play-as is part of the challenge itself. The player wants one thing, yet the character sometimes does another. It’s a prevalent source of frustration in much of game playing. But the player that enjoys himself the most, is the one that shrugs it off and plays wherever the ball lies — if it ends up in the rough, then so be it.

And we know we can influence our character. We can shut him right down and sabotage everything he wants to do in this world. Perhaps he wants to go out for a nice bike ride… NO, I’m not in the mood today, we might have to interact with other people. Or maybe he wants to rent a new movie… NO, are you crazy, we can’t afford that! If you were merely a human born of this world, why would you argue with yourself so often? Hmm….

In any video-game, success comes down to syncing with your onscreen character and aligning with the timing of the game. You can only jump when the rope swings close enough to grab it. Jump too late or too soon and you fall in the hole. Oftentimes gaming comes down to practicing again and again until you can finally meld with your onscreen character.

Characters, by their nature, are limited in their abilities. The limitations are what provide challenge and make the game fun. It’s not the character that needs to change, but the player. In other words, it’s not appropriate to argue with your character all the time. The better course of action is to go along for the ride and perform the activities he wants.

But what craps that up, is when the player is too lost in the game and gets in the way of his character — the player gets anxious and takes everything too seriously. Whereas when player and character are in-sync, there’s no frustration and no need to “keep it together”. Summary: Your goal as the player is to synchronize with your character — and when you do, your life will be a lot smoother.

Taking a Step Back

I think you’ll notice that the game-of-life pushes the notion of a concrete physical reality mixed with the concept of random chance. And the reason for that, is because those properties maximize the intensity and excitement we feel here. Everything you see and experience is “real”, born of cosmic fire, created through millions of years of evolution and chemical reaction. There’s an epic-ness to it all. “And what’s this!? Any part of it, including me and everyone I know, will be struck-down by random chance?! Gasp!! Oh no!!! So exciting!!!”

But of course, it’s just predetermined pixels designed to appear as if they’re there. It’s obvious when you stop and stare at the gameplay itself, but when you’re lost in your character it certainly feels like the real-deal. And like I mentioned at the start, the game will keep attempting to convince you that it’s real and random.

If you consider the story of the Pilgrims, it’s the story of some people that put the concept of a non-physical-world to the test. Without any special skill or ability, they boarded a boat and went over to the “new world” trusting in their faith of a benevolent world. God will protect and provide — and in many ways He did. They survived the daunting voyage, there was a native man that just happened to speak English who was willing to show them how to procure food, and there was an “empty” village just waiting for them. While it’s reported that half of them died during the first winter, it’s still a miraculous feat.

There are lots of stories that tell of the non-random, non-physical nature of the world — yet for some reason we tend to say it was “luck”, just random happenstance that could never happen again. Yet, unusual things happen all the time, there are “amazing”, seemingly impossible narratives that happen again and again. The very fact that life occurs in story-like patterns is a give-away in itself.

Lest you think I’m trying to spoil the fun and ruin the surprise, far from it. I’m only attempting to provide some perspective. Without their faith in a non-physical world, the Pilgrims never would’ve been so bold. Whereas if you believe yourself a simple creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape, you’ll dig a hole and hide away your entire existence — it’s the logical thing to do. But, if you know beyond a doubt that the world wants you well, then you’ll step into the sun, soaking up its warm rays as you seek out the adventure of a lifetime.

So consider this: the world is not real OR random. It’s a game of pretend. You’re a character meant to play out your role. Whenever the intensity of immersion becomes too great, take a step back and realize that you’re not just a character, but also the player that watches, the one having the fun.

Selecting Sides

Good and evil, light and dark, positive and negative. In every instance, you choose whether you’re the hero or the villain. How? By the interpretation of the scene you’re experiencing.

If you seek-out the bad, you create it. If you seek-out the good, you create that too. So which do you see? You think your negativity only affects you, or do you even consider it? Either way, you contribute to the scene you’re experiencing based on your attitude.

You want a better world? Then see it. You’ll witness it transform before your eyes. Want the worst? Keep seeing the worst in everything that parades past.

You can be the one that lightens the mood or the one that tosses a grenade of pessimism into the air. Hero or villain — choose by the attitude you share with the world around you.

Middle Path of Pixels

In terms of a video-game analogy, you do want to be here on Earth playing this game as a specific character. You’re not attempting to get beyond your character. “Enlightenment” is not transcending your character in order to solely identify as the player. That’s dumb — the player came to play, and to do that, he must become a character.

But as a player, you don’t want to over-identify as your character, it’s too stressful. Yet this is what happens: the player gets so lost in the game that he forgets he exists, he believes he’s actually the character. So what enlightenment is, is when the player finally realizes that underneath it all, he’s actually a player — but it doesn’t end there.

Once the player realizes he’s a player AND a character, he must balance those two perspectives into an enjoyable ratio. Too much character is too intense — and too much player lacks a feeling of immersion. All this Earth-stuff is here for a reason, you most certainly want to interact with it, but you need to do so with a lighthearted attitude, not taking things too seriously.

Imagine if you associated too closely with the character of Pac-Man for instance. You’d attempt to hide from the ghosts, you’d be petrified of being eaten, every step you took would be a step closer to your doom. You’d hover over by the power-pellets, your only source of safety in a world designed to destroy you.

Now imagine if you associated too closely with the player of Pac-Man, never immersing yourself in the game. “Who cares about gobbling those meaningless pellets?” — “So what if a ghost gets me, it doesn’t matter anyway.” — “Oh well, died again, and again, and again.” — “Meh, game over, so what.” — “That was quick. Now I’m bored and have nothing to do.”

Whereas if you strike the right balance between character and player: “Ooh! That was a close one! Ha almost got me ghost, but not today!” — “Oh, oops, well I guess his friend got me. But now it’s my turn to get you!! It’s Power Pellet Time!!” — “I can’t believe I cleared the board! Victory is mine!!” — “Second stage! Let’s do this!”

Balancing Perspective

Is life out to get you? Yes. Is life a benevolent experience? Yes. Will life beat your ass? Yes. Will life protect you? Yes. Is life going to scare you? Yes. Is life going to comfort you? Yes. Will you feel pain? Yes. Will you feel delight? Yes.

These aren’t inconsistencies, there’s different layers to life. On one layer, you’re in the shit, sloggin’ it out day after day. On another layer you’re having an awesomely immersive experience that you won’t soon forget.

If this doesn’t make sense, then I’m guessing you’ve never played a video-game. If you haven’t, then you should start. Life will make a lot more sense when you understand it from a game-playing perspective.

In a video-game, you willingly and purposefully and repeatedly subject yourself to constant torment. You die a thousand times at the hands of merciless foes — yet you keep going back for more. The challenge electrifies you, time and again.

If you get too engrossed, you WILL rage-quit. You’ll swear your head off at those freakin’ muther-farthing sons-of-bees. You’ll feel the sting of injustice as you’re robbed of the win by some cheap happenstance that shouldn’t have happened.

And that’s life, baby. You want that challenge. You need those obstacles. It’s the intermittent winning that hooks you in. But what you don’t need, is to over-do it. You don’t need to over-invest yourself in the game.

You’re a character in the thick of things, but that’s not all you are. You’re also a player that sits comfortably while enjoying the action. You need to balance your perspective, finding the spot where the intensity of the experience is just-right.