Super Serious

Within this blog, I oftentimes write about deep philosophical stuff. But once in awhile, I write about my daily life and aspirations — yet that part of me seems so childish and downright silly. So why the disconnect?

Actual daily life, with all our little inconsequential quests, really is ridiculous. From collecting coins and trinkets to conquering dragons in the form of assignments, chores, creative projects, boredom, keeping our cool, getting along with others, harmonizing with our path — it’s all mundane minutia yet our nearsighted perspective makes such silliness seem so important.

But here I am over-analyzing everything, taking things super seriously, yet existence is merely a playful romp through the funhouse. What an absurd thing to do for such a lighthearted experience. It’s like I’m constantly explaining the joke to myself instead of simply laughing at it.

I must admit that I’ve often looked down on professional sports commentators. You’re analyzing a bunch of grown-men running around a field as if it’s a significant event!? Get a life! But here I am, one in the same, commentator on a game of pretend. The difference is that I was stupid enough to take the game seriously.

With that in mind, I can legitimately analyze life, doing all the commentary I want — I just need to recognize the fleeting and frivolous nature of what I’m commenting on. As long as I’m entertained while doing so, I can certainly over-analyze a chocolate-chip cookie. It’s only a problem when I take that analysis seriously — who cares, it’s a cookie! If I can’t make my analysis amusing, I shouldn’t bother.


Lazy Programmer Theory

If I was a lazy programmer tasked with designing a simulation in which people were fully immersed, what would that virtual world be like?

First, I would create an undercurrent of fear, making everyone too nervous to venture out. Just imagine all that savings in artwork and processing power if players were kept inside most of the time. Just keep ’em scared and it simplifies everything. There’s less rendering needed as well as less corralling and coordinating of players within complicated scenarios.

Second, I’d use comparisons to worse-off NPCs (Non-Player Characters) so that players felt like they were better off. For example, if I live in a small house but my neighboring NPC lives in an even smaller house, all of a sudden I feel like I’m livin’ the good life. And with NPCs falling victim to calamity and barely having any resources, players would be satisfied with mere survival and they’d be happy with the minimal resources they do receive.

Third, memory retention would be minimal. Think of the space savings on the hardware side! And even better: what’s old is new again! I can repeat storylines ad nauseam yet no one would notice.

Fourth, I would create transportation that allowed players to blip around mindlessly all while surrounded by ever-repeating scenery. For example, jump in a car and hit the highway — nothing but trees the entire way. Ha! Or jump on a plane and players can barely see out the window, but if they look it’s all just ocean or barely rendered landscape. Travel puts players into an autopilot mode that requires little effort, this ensures players do not go off-course into un-rendered territory.

Fifth, I’d simply entertain the people through virtual means such as in-game TV, movies, video-games, and books. Why flesh-out actual individual lives that require real rendering and coordinating when millions of players could just sit there sharing the same fictional stories.

Sixth, history never happened. It’s completely fabricated. “Evidence” of a time past is woven into the landscape while incomplete stories-of-old are written into books.

And finally, I’d incorporate self-doubt and the tendency to create self-limiting beliefs into the makeup of characters. Why take time to build walls when the players will simply confine themselves? Easy-peasy.

A Life

For the A-students and/or the competitive-minded folks that want to be the best at life, how do you go about doing so?

Being the best at this game means maintaining focus on the stuff you prefer while dismissing the stuff you don’t prefer. In other words, if you walk into a buffet and grab whatever’s convenient, filling your plate as fast as you can — you’re probably going to have a mediocre time at best. Whereas if you ignore the stuff you don’t prefer and instead pick the most pleasing items, the ones that suit your preferences — you’ll likely have a much better time.

The trick of course, is figuring out what your preferences are. If you’re brand-new to the buffet, how will you know what you’ll like until you try it? You can’t know! That’s why a varied feast is laid out before you, and that’s why you’re presented with things that you might find unappealing. Now if you’re playing the game poorly, you’re going to get caught-up on this gross stuff and assume the entire buffet is crap and not worth your time.

Whereas the best players are going to simply note what they don’t like and keep trying other things until they find whatever suits their palate. The worst players are such because they’re easily offended when presented with something they don’t like and forever-after maintain a pessimistic attitude. The best players simply assume that life is fundamentally fun and full of items for everyone — and if they come across a disgusting item, they let it go and move on — NEXT!

Like any game, you do want obstacles and challenges, that’s what makes things so interesting. But the best life is one in which obstacles are formed from the things you want to overcome, not peripheral stuff you don’t care about. If you’re a poor player, constantly focused on what doesn’t interest you, you’re going to be up against the worst stuff you can imagine. Whereas the best players, having focused only on what interests them, are presented with appropriate tasks and objectives.

But keep in mind that winning at life has nothing to do with actually completing a bunch of goals — the goals are meaningless in a sense — they even vary from person to person. The goals simply give you something to do. Therefore, the way in which you display a mastery of life, is by the sharpness of your focus. The best players aren’t distracted by all the stuff they don’t like, they’re busy concentrating only on what they prefer — living the life that aligns with their nature.

Fringe Benefits

What are some benefits of living in a simulation? Sickness, accidents, catastrophes — these things aren’t real, they’re simply scenarios we elect to engage in. But it’s not necessarily a conscious decision, more of a belief and mindset we foster. If we don’t want particular scenarios in our lives, we shouldn’t fantasize about them in our thoughts. For example, worry may very well manifest the exact situation we’re worrying about.

In a simulation, chance doesn’t exist, we summon things into our lives by our focus. For instance, if we focus on a particular goal, that’s the one we accomplish, not some random result. In other words, if I train to win a 400 meter race, I won’t accidentally win a weight-lifting competition. If I focus on developing a long-term relationship with a significant-other, I’m not going to one day randomly abandon him/her.

In a simulation, we need only follow the paths we prefer. This is why meditation is such an important tool to utilize, as it’s the practice of maintaining focus. The simulation is considerate enough to keep offering suggestions in order to keep us constantly engaged, avoiding boredom. With meditation, we can shut out the suggested paths we don’t prefer and focus on the ones that delight — otherwise we’ll tend to focus on whatever the next suggestion is, no matter its effects (positive or negative).

For example, if I constantly scan my body for pain, I’ll find what I’m looking for. I’ll then begin wondering what malady I’m suffering from — for months I’ll imagine the worst and likely find that too. The simulation is very accommodating and will fulfill whatever we focus on. But if I dislike medical dramas and want no part in those scenarios, then I shouldn’t apply my focus to such things. We do ourselves a disservice obviously, if we keep our thoughts filled with things we don’t prefer.

It’s our job as participants to seek out the scenarios we find fulfilling and focus on them. In order to make the most immersive experience possible, the simulation requires our active participation. We are most certainly free to choose the worst options, and in our confusion we just might do so. This place is intense, and we can get so overwhelmed and frightened that we focus on pessimistic outcomes that lead us to believe the world is a horrible place full of pain and suffering.

But it most assuredly is not. It’s a fulfillment generator, a realm in which dreams do come true. But it’s up to us to determine the nature and quality of our dream. And we do that by honing our focus, adjusting our attitude, and maintaining our appreciation. We must seek out what we like, sincerely immerse ourself in the process and find the fun, and be thankful for this grand experience. It’s like any daunting activity, oftentimes we have to push past the initial hard part to get to the good stuff.

If we maintain a good attitude and stick with it, things work out in the end — that’s how it goes in the simulation. And because it’s a virtual experience, satisfaction is guaranteed*.

*Good luck gettin’ your money back! :-)

Simulated Start

It was about a decade ago, shortly after my father died. I was reading a cartoonist’s blog that I happened to stumble upon — in a post he mentioned the world being a simulation. Of course I had seen The Matrix a decade earlier, and so did he — but what struck me this time, was the idea that probability-wise, it just had to be true. If it’s ever going to happen, it already did. In other words, if humanity will ever reach the point of living simulated lives, then they’re already doing it, perhaps for millions of years already.

Although I had been intrigued by The Matrix when I first saw it, it painted a pretty dark picture and seemed only kind of plausible — so I only casually entertained the idea of living in a simulation. Then after I started thinking about the inevitability of living in a simulation, I accepted the idea even more. It probably helped that I was a computer programmer at the time. Then in the last few years, I pretty much adopted the concept of simulation theory completely.

I suppose we all need a belief system. More traditional religious belief systems just didn’t make sense to me. So for all the decades before this, I believed myself to be a fragile creature struggling for survival within a chance-based physical reality. Long-story short: life sucked, it was scary as heck and I tried to hide from everything — I was racked with anxiety, obviously. But I couldn’t just become a Buddhist or whatever, I needed something I could easily grasp.

Technology, gadgets, TV, movies, computers, video-games, and now the Internet — I love that stuff. So why wouldn’t my foundational beliefs be tailored to what I can relate to? I don’t really care about astronomy, biology, or chemistry — you can take your big-bangs, your evolution, and your primordial stew and shove it! Those theories had their chance, now it’s technology’s turn!! (to be read in the voice of Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama)

No, but seriously, everyone is welcome to the belief-system that suits them best. Personally, I think simulation theory should be popularized and spread and accepted as a valid belief system among the many others. What’s strange to me though, is the way simulation theory has allowed me to grasp the God/spirituality stuff. For most of my life I thought all religions and their related beliefs were kinda dumb, honestly. But when I began looking at life in a non-physical way, the God/spirituality stuff started making sense.

Simulation theory opened up a whole different way of looking at life — I could see a layer I simply couldn’t perceive before. And frankly, it took away my worry, curing my anxiety. Now I see life as an experience designed for my amusement. I finally feel safe and cared for. It’s a funhouse after-all! Of course it’s possible that this world isn’t virtual, but in a sense, that doesn’t matter — it’s my faith in the belief that provides me with comfort and the power to act.

I really do believe it’s true though, that this life is a virtual experience of some sort. Whether it’s an actual computer or whether it’s merely a dream — who knows. As with any belief system, the more I look through its lens, the more I see evidence in support of it. I realize too, that I’m often in a minority position when it comes to philosophical positions and tend to be a natural contrarian, I also realize that I quite easily fit into mockable categories of thought.

I have no point here but to summarize and cement for myself the belief system in which I’m currently invested. Because of the confounding nature of this world, we have to regularly remind ourselves of the things we want to believe in. And I want to maintain the belief in virtuality because of the good it’s done me. It’s too easy to fall back into my old pessimistic patterns of thought, so the more I convince myself of life’s virtual nature, the more cheerful and appreciative I become.

If anyone else is wanting for a new lease on life, I highly recommend giving a new belief system a try. It doesn’t have to be simulation theory, just something that paints life in a pleasing way, one that’s suited to your particular preferences. It’s a fool’s errand to believe we can ever discern an ultimate reality — I tried and failed. It’s beliefs all the way down — so you might as well pick a pleasant one that turns life into a picnic. It took me decades to realize this, but luckily in my world, time is malleable — it’s never too late.

Easy Street

To me, anxiety is a symptom of a scary set of beliefs. If different people react differently to the same stimulus, it means the stimulus isn’t the problem, the perspective is. In other words, the ongoings-of-life are not the problem, our individual interpretation and subsequent reaction is the problem.

After holding these particular beliefs for several decades, I would say without a doubt that the concepts of atheism, evolution, survival-of-the-fittest, humans-are-simply-animals, germ-theory, imminent global-catastrophe, big-bang and chance-based existence — are all too scary for me to believe in. I admit it, I’m a wimp.

If you have the guts, sure go ahead an knock yourself out, live life on the edge — but I just sat there paranoid the entire time, waiting for “something” to get me. Nowadays I sit back and relax with my new easy-mode beliefs. Of course old habits die hard but I’m gettin’ there. The funny thing is, life keeps on chuggin’ along no matter which belief system you adopt — might as well select the one that leads to the most pleasant experience.

For me, the easy belief is “simulation theory” — that this is all a game I’m playing, so there’s nothing scary about it. What happens here is for my amusement, I’m taken care of as I proceed through the fabricated world, resources are virtual and therefore abundant, I have my own personal and protected path through this place, and I leave when I choose — there’s nothing to worry about.

And honestly, life seems to be working out much better since I adopted this point-of-view. It really does seem true that my thoughts are influencing the reality I experience. With a positive outlook, positive things happen. And even if it’s pure perception on my part, and the external world hasn’t changed a bit — so what? I’m having a better time and that’s what counts.

Confundus Charm

We are purposefully confounded by life. Isn’t that how every new game or story starts? You’re thrust into the middle of the action and have to decode what’s happening and find out who’s who. That’s part of the fun, to get dropped into a maze and figure your way out. The trick though, is not to panic. Yes you’re lost, but so what?

You panic when you believe yourself to be a fragile little creature fighting for survival within a big harsh world that doesn’t care about your existence. Step one is to appreciate all the things you haven’t done to ensure your own survival — in other words, your cunning hasn’t been what’s keeping you alive. The game itself maintains your existence.

Number two, is to realize it’s actually not that big. If you pay attention, you keep seeing the same people over and over. Oftentimes it’s the same actual people, other times it’s the same faces, expressions, and mannerisms — personality types tend to repeat pretty regularly. People behave similarly no matter where you go.

Number three: don’t stress about it. If life placed you in a quandary, it will also help you through it. It’s more of a guided game. You couldn’t really figure it out on your own — you have to let life happen. The feeling of free-will and control allows for the most immersive experience — but life will keep you on the correct path if you allow it to — just don’t fight it.

And like every game or story, you not only have to figure out the plot, but the main character’s role within it takes some digging and mystery solving. Who are you? What can you do here? Explore, try things out, it will be revealed as you go. Be true to your character by allowing him to act in accordance with his nature.

You have the ability to apply the brakes, but why would you? It stalls your journey and you get all angsty. When the fear comes, ignore it, it’s not there to protect you, it’s simply the thrill of total-immersion coming through. This is an exciting game with hyper-realistic graphics and unpredictable storylines — ya you’re gonna feel it. But don’t be scared, ride the ride and appreciate the fun.