Artistic Endeavor

Most days, I have thoughts that seem to emanate from beyond my mortal frame. I then think about these thoughts: “Hm, that seems interesting or insightful or like a slightly different perspective.” Oftentimes I’ll write the original thought down, forming it into words. I’ll usually publish those words here, as a blog post. Sometimes I’ll fantasize that other people will read what I posted and the message will serve them in some manner — perhaps encourage them to think in a new way — or simply remind them of what they already knew.

And this writing-process is an enjoyable endeavor for me, it’s satisfying. On a well-received post, I might see about 7 “likes”. Although if you look around at other blogs, that’s a comically small number, especially when you consider I’ve been writing here for over 6 years — but I’m fine with that. There will be times when a post only gets 1 “like” or even 0, so 7 is great. There’s no financial incentive either, I do this simply because it’s the only thing I’m inspired to do. Sometimes I fantasize that money will come from somewhere eventually, but I don’t think about it too much.

Obviously I’m slightly vexed by the lack of physical-world spoils. But clearly that’s not a deal-breaker. And I wouldn’t label this commitment to blogging as a stubborn act because that implies I have an alternative activity I could pursue. I don’t. This is it. It feels like my job, a pleasant one. I show up, pick out some ideas that are swirling around the aether, transcribe them, edit my writing, publish the post, and check for any incoming feedback. “Ooh, a popular one today! 10 likes!” or “Hm no likes yet? I guess that post was just for me, well at least I appreciated it.”

Oftentimes it seems like the posts are for my own benefit. Or rather, the benefit of the character I’m playing-as in the game-of-life. It’s as if this blog is an instruction-manual made just for me. I suppose that’s possible. Either way I’m expressing an inner voice within me — and that means I qualify as an artist. An “under-appreciated” artist in my opinion — but to be honest I don’t really like people looking at, or commenting on, my work. I’m trying to get over that though — in fact, if given the choice today, I think I would rather have an audience as opposed to not. Whereas if you had asked me previously, I’d say I prefer a lack of staring eyeballs.

The point of this particular post is this: follow your dreams. At the end of the day, it’s a satisfying way to live. Figure out who you are and what you need to do in order to be your authentic self — then do that. There WILL be obstacles in your way. But it’s the obstacles that make the trek worthwhile. This is an adventure, a quest, a mystery — you’ll need your wits about you, you’ll need to apply some effort, you’ll need determination. But overall this is an enjoyable endeavor, so stress and strain mean you’re heading in the wrong direction. As has been said: “Follow your bliss.”

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Dual Perspectives

Let’s play a game. How about Pac-Man? While playing, there are two simultaneous perspectives you’ll hold.

The character’s perspective: You’re a man on the run from a gang of ghosts that want nothing more than to kill you. It’s tense. You’ll barely dodge them as they chase you like prey around the board. And all the while, you have to gobble up every pellet you see. You need those pellets. The most important activity in your brief life is acquiring pellets. You’re obsessed.

The player’s perspective: First and foremost you’re there for fun — there’s no other reason to engage with the game. After all, these are just flickering pixels that don’t count for anything. Sometimes you lose yourself in the character to the point of visible frustration. You might yell or curse at the ghosts. Although ultimately, you understand that the ghosts are what make the game fun — just chomping pellets without obstacles would get real boring real fast.

Do you see the point? That’s life. BUT, some of us completely lose ourself in the character we’re playing — we only see life through the character’s eyes — which is anxiety inducing. Spirituality is the “player’s perspective”. So if you develop and maintain a sense of spirituality, then life becomes a lot more fun.

From a character’s perspective, spirituality is nonsense of course. I’M playing here. I’M in control. NO ONE is playing as me, that’s stupid. Life is EXACTLY as it appears to my eyes! I must chomp more pellets! I must run from ghosts or I’ll DIE! Whereas from a player’s perspective, THAT is a silly attitude. Why are you getting so wrapped up in the woes of a fictional character? Calm down, it’s just a game.

Our problem with life stems from taking the game too seriously and over-associating with the character we’re playing. We get so stressed and anxious that we eventually find no pleasure in the game. We NEED to step back and take things in from the player’s perspective. From that viewpoint, we can see how obstacles actually make the game enjoyable. We cheer for our character but at the end of the day it’s the fun and adventure we’re there for.

Pursuit of Slack

What I see as my purpose, is to be delightfully unconventional. I spent way too many years attempting to be logical and practical and it didn’t work, in fact it was anxiety-inducing. So instead of the fraidy-cat anxious-guy, I would rather be a beacon of hope for pessimistic slackers everywhere. Yes, life likes you. No, hard-work is not a necessary component for existence. Yes, you’ll be fine, don’t worry. No, you won’t lack anything, just follow the flow and you’ll end up wherever you need to go.

Eventually, I see myself as an Alan Watts type, just sitting around riffing on life and its playful nature. Maybe I’ll have a YouTube channel, I dunno. For right now I suppose I’ll write. Ah, I can feel the weight lifting from my self-imposed chains of conformity. Fuck-me for taking life so seriously for so long. No one forced me to wear those shackles, I simply assumed it was the thing to do. Damn-me and my slavishness to popular fashion and my unwillingness to be myself.

As the kids say: “Let your freak flag fly”. I shall hoist mine from the handlebars of White Lightning, my trusty kick-scooter. I will proudly proclaim that I am a Master League, level III, War Robots pilot. When asked “So Rich, what do you do for a living?” I will unflinchingly declare that I write a blog. When asked how I survive in this world without a “real” job, I’ll simply state: “To those that believe, wishes do come true”.

And that’s what this all boils down to: magic is real. I denied it, tried to suppress it, pretended that I lived in a harsh physical reality that required ample anguish and suffering — but no, this world is a fantasyland filled with fun and delight. The only thing I have to do, is ride the ride and laugh the whole way through. And if others wish to select this as their primary mode of being, the more the merrier. Welcome friend, to the lighthearted life.

The Reality Within

Within the darkest recesses of men’s minds lies the core of reality by which existence churns-out the scenes that produce an experience known as life. What a funny thing it is, the quaint drama wrapped in a shining spectacle that constitutes a lifespan. And for each body on the stage, a role is assigned. Know your role and perform it well. But at the same time, become the audience and witness the performance as you play it.

To play it well, you must be loose and lighthearted. Never too serious, yet respecting the boundry that defines you. Watch, but never too closely for the detail blurs when scrutinized. To play yourself, allow yourself to surface by clearing off surface-thoughts — those weeds that block your essence from experiencing the sun. A chatty audience is all it is, so silence them, the show must go on and you’ve your part to perform.

Bouncer, actor, audience. Keep the crowd from getting rowdy, read the lines as they’re provided, watch with interested fascination as it all unfolds. This is the experience we come for. Fun and games, entertainment at its finest. It’s not a perfect production, sometimes the lights pop-off, costumes rip, lines are late, some characters are flat, details are left out, logic is defied — but overall it works, serving its purpose to thrill and elicit an interesting time.

Behind the Curtain

If you analyze anything long enough, it’ll stop making sense. Take politics for instance, a bunch of people arguing is somehow considered to be “running the country” — and it’s funny how they always seem to enrich themselves in the process. Or take schooling, what the heck are kids supposed to be learning? I know a lot of people that never payed attention in class and they lived rich fulfilling lives — school-lessons never played a part.

So what’s going on here? Obviously, life is a fictional affair. All those “institutions” are superficial structures not meant to be examined. It’s like the set of a Hollywood movie — if you step through the door there’s nothing there but unfinished space. That shouldn’t surprise you of course, because you’ve always known that something isn’t quite right — you just weren’t sure what it was.

And it’s true, this world is a mirage, a mere charade pretending to be something solid. But that shouldn’t unsettle you, in fact you should be impressed and appreciative. Someone went to all this trouble to make you believe that you were in a “real” physical world. A Hollywood set doesn’t just randomly appear by accident. Structures need to be designed and built (albeit haphazardly), and the underlying story must be written.

Well, you’re in that story. Neat huh? Imagine a ride at Disney World, like Pirates of the Caribbean — it’s an immersive experience in which you’re a fly-on-the-wall watching all that pirate stuff happen. You’re supposed to keep your eyes on the pirates of course — but what happens if you start staring at the black ceiling tiles or notice the EXIT signs? You lose the sense of immersion, that’s what. Put your eyes back on the pirates. Oh look, there’s Captain Jack Sparrow!

In other words, take this world for what it is, and don’t over-examine it. Otherwise, that’s a great way to make it seem lame. You don’t attend a stage-play only to stare at a missed button on the actor’s shirt — you’re supposed to pay attention to the story. Likewise, if you’re not enjoying this world, it means you’ve been focusing on minutia that doesn’t matter. You have to zoom-out a bit and take-in the broad big-picture stuff. Your character is on a path and you’re there to experience the story arc.

Life isn’t hard — being an undisciplined audience member just makes it seem that way. It’s like you’re standing up in the ride-car and taking flash-photography the entire time. Remain seated and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. No one makes such an awe-inspiring spectacle of sight and sound just to torture and punish participants — this world you’re experiencing is for your enjoyment. Trust in it.

Empathetic Lie

Can you read my mind? Then how do you know what I’m feeling? By interpreting my actions or expressions? What if you’re wrong? Or are you imagining how you’d feel in the same situation? But we might have drastically different reactions. For example, if I see a nice big slice of cheesecake, I might smile and nod a little. You’d think, “Wow, this guy likes what he sees!”. But what I’m really thinking is, “Ha, look how disgusting that is!! That pie-shaped-cake encrusted in crushed graham-cracker is so gross that I have to laugh!!” Or maybe you see me receiving a brand-new sweater for Christmas and think “Wow, this guy is gonna love that, I know I would!”. But it turns out that I HATE sweaters!

But Rich, what about empathy being so important, and blah blah blah? Who says? Empathy is NOT actually feeling someone else’s feelings — it’s either guesswork or projection — and either way, it’s not necessarily what the other person is feeling. I see people in my family guessing wrong all the time. I see myself guessing wrong too. And what’s worse, is that we react based on our incorrect assumptions.

As a formerly negative person, I would always interpret people’s reactions as negative. “Oh he’s upset now!”, “Oh man, she didn’t like that at all, just look at her face!”, “Yikes! That’s gotta feel bad!”. I’d project negativity onto everything. And if I imagined myself in the situation, of course that other person must be having a terrible time — just like I would. “Oh god, people are singing Happy Birthday in the middle of a crowded restaurant to that poor guy, he must be completely embarrasted and hating his life right now!!!” That’s empathy?? No, that’s bullshit.

So what I’m saying, is stop trying to imagine what everyone else is feeling and then reacting based on a fantasy. If you want to know what someone is feeling, you gotta get down and dirty and really get in there. And people won’t just tell you what they’re feeling by the way, you have to gain their trust in that moment and work your way in. That takes actual effort, not “empathy”. Empathy is the easy no-effort route to understanding others — it’s superficial nonsense.

To truly understand others, you have to stop pretending to know what they’re feeling — instead, you have to approach with an open-mind, closed-mouth, and open-ears. And unless you’re willing to do that, then accept that you have no idea what another person is feeling. Empathy: No and Never

The Container

Game-simulations are never exact replicas of the world they’re simulating. They’re minimal implementations containing fragments of a whole, typically highlighting a particular activity. The graphics and other sensory data are never as fully immersive as the real-deal. Take Minecraft as an example, it focuses mainly on mining, survival, and block-building. This leads to the hypothesis that whatever contains our own simulated world, is likely beyond our current in-game comprehension.

In other words, a Minecraft avatar can’t fathom what a peach tastes like, or what taste even is. The smooth, non-blocky edges of everything in this world would look alien. The idea of billions of players all interacting on a single server without massive lag would be unthinkable. The concept of a non-infinite globe might even seem claustrophobic to an avatar used to an infinitely expanding world. Yet the many roles and activities and choices in our world might seem daunting to a character that’s only ever mined and slaughtered zombies.

The fact that we’re here says something about the world beyond this one. Maybe that world is too safe and not very intense — perhaps a bit boring. In games, we get reckless don’t we? We go at a higher intensity, we fight things, we die. Or sometimes a simulator is used for pure practice, like a flight-simulator for example. Maybe we’re learning to live as part of a greater civilization. Perhaps we have to earn our way into whatever world lies beyond this one.

The clues of artificiality are everywhere yet we’re too immersed to care. But one thing is for sure: if we’re here, we’re obviously meant to interact with this place in the best way we can. Whether it’s for fun or training, we better get our head in the game and act like we want to be here. Every endeavor is improved by a good attitude. And there’s always the possibility that this is in fact a rehabilitation facility for those that had trouble in the greater society. Either way, accepting and appreciating our position here is the only way to go.