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.

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Fountain of You

You’ll notice that we’re all different in particular ways. Our individual preferences vary quite a bit. For example, I despise the so-called dessert known as “cheesecake” — it’s gross. Our character has a dossier full of attributes that make it relatively unique. To play our character correctly then, is to honor those preferences and attributes.

If you’re playing Street Fighter II for example, you don’t play Guile the same way you play Chun Li — that’ll get you KO’d pretty quickly. You have to learn the abilities of your character and exploit those to the fullest. Special moves and abilities are there to be used, not ignored. You don’t want to play your character like it’s generic — that’s dumb.

That’s why striving to be “normal” is dumb. There is no normal, EVERYONE has an individualized dossier of attributes and abilities. And these abilities MUST be expressed by the character in order to fulfill that role. If you don’t express your individuality, it’s like holding in a poop — your bowels will ache and strain — you will suffer until you let “you” flow out.

How do you know what your character’s preferences and abilities are? Experiment! In Street Fighter II for example, you’ll find that keeping Guile in a low defensive position while utilizing leg-sweeps will prove devastating to many opponents. In other words, you won’t know what you can do until you do it — so do an assortment of things until you find what you’re good at.

Guile is a defensive character, he’s good when you wait for a chance to attack — if you play him aggressively you’ll likely get KO’d. In other words, there really are limitations on your character and you have to play according to his abilities. But that’s the fun part — all games impose limits — it’s a puzzle to solve, it’s attempting to accomplish something within a limited set of parameters.

And the best part is: the game-of-life wants you to win. The game is rigged in your favor. IF you play the character correctly, you WILL win. Whereas if you sabotage the character, trying to make him into something he’s not, you WILL suffer — you will get KO’d. In short, discover who your character is (explore and experiment), then play to his strengths. Result: “YOU WIN!”

Simple and Efficient

I enjoy cheat-codes. Back in the day, I utilized the famous “Konami Code” to receive extra-lives on Contra for the original NES. It was something like: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, Start, Start. If you look it up now, it’s slightly different, but that’s what I entered and it worked. I learned it from a kid in my class — he was a video-game expert. He’d read about video-games in magazines or something. He also helped me to find all the hidden stuff in the Legend of Zelda for NES.

In other words, I’m not a stranger to taking the “easy route”. I guess that’s why magic and wishing pique my interest. I’m a slave to efficiency — and what’s more efficient than cheat-codes, magic, wishes, etc.? I suppose I like the feeling of taking shortcuts because I love efficiency so much. In fact, the more effort I put into something, the less I appreciate it. The end-product seems too convoluted to be worth all the trouble. For me, simple is best.

But usually, I use cheat-codes when I literally couldn’t have done it any other way. I couldn’t have beaten Contra with a measly 3 lives, I’m not that good of a video-game player — I don’t care enough to dedicate the time nor are my reflexes fast enough. So boom!, there I am with all those extra-lives, reaching the end. From feeling frustrated at my inability, to complete domination of the game itself — how’s that for a self-esteem boost!?

Perhaps it’s part of my character, but I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself. Because I value simplicity and efficiency, the easier and quicker route feels correct to me. So if the game-of-life, for whatever reason, hands me millions of dollars — I’d say “oh, well it’s about time! But thanks, I appreciate this. I was struggling quite a bit with the gameplay, but this will provide the boost I need.” I’m not particularly good at games, but my persistence and willingness to utilize shortcuts typically pays off in the end.

P.S. I serve as a beacon of hope to pessimistic slackers ONLY. I am NOT a type-A hard-charging go-getter. I understand that some people really do get a sense of satisfaction from effort and “hard work” — and that’s great. But it’s also great that variety exists. There’s a path for everyone in this world and some of us have fun taking the accelerated routes.

Existential Challenge

What does it take to live in the world?

The tenacity to maintain a positive attitude. I lived with a bad attitude most of my life. It sucked.

What obstacles are you faced with in your life?

Sleep is a biggie. I don’t sleep very well. In fact I actively fight it at times. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s a control issue. And when I finally do fall asleep, I wake up throughout the night.

Existential boredom. I don’t know what I should do with the bulk of my time. It’s been several decades and I’ve yet to find a career path.

The occasional physical ailments: headaches, colds, minor injuries. I wrestle with that stuff like they’re major life-altering obstacles.

Pessimism. I tend to think the worst of everything. I have to actively fight against it.

What obstacles would you rather tackle instead?

Well, nothing to do with my physical body — my body should simply serve as a well-functioning vehicle for my consciousness. I’d rather my obstacles take the form of career related tasks. But like I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure what that career would be.

I suppose if I had my druthers, I’d like to be an eccentric nouveau riche. I’d spend crazy amounts of money at Walt Disney World, stay at Deluxe Resorts (concierge-level of course), decorate my house with outlandishly expensive Disney memorabilia, stay current with the latest tech gadgets, ride electric scooters around town (the fun kind), go on shopping sprees, go to restaurants, collect things, and treat everyone I know to great gifts (like Santa Claus). That excites me.

I’m just kinda waiting for the fun-funds to kick in. Luckily, after several decades of existence I started believing in magic, so the certainty of this scenario is approaching one hundred percent. And if you believe in “nominative determinism”, my name is actually Rich — it’s a destiny thing.

I can also see why it wouldn’t have made sense to have money at an earlier stage of life. Because of my pessimism, it would’ve just amplified my anxiousness. Now instead of fortresses and walling myself away, I can think of more enjoyable ways to spend money. So in a sense, I’d like my career to be shopping. For pro-shoppers such as myself, shopping is like a form of hunting, it’s finding the best, most appropriate item — which takes a lot of care and effort — for those #bornToShop, it’s energizing.

So “the hunt” is where I’d face my obstacles. I need to be me, and if me is a silly guy that loves to shop, then so be it.

Any parting words?

Yes. I think selecting your preferred obstacles is a primary component of designing your life. If you don’t, life will simply hand you some default challenges. For instance, two big challenges for me are sleep and headaches — and that’s just dumb. I’m ready to move on to a more enjoyable context in which to overcome my challenges.

It’s also important to understand that challenges are relative. Everyone experiences maximum-challenge mode. What might look like nothing to you is near impossible for another — whereas what might look impossible to you, is readily handled by someone else. A pimple on the nose could bring someone’s world crashing down. You can’t judge or compare — obstacles are relative to the individual they’re applied to.

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.”

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.

Let’s Get Nuts

Okay here’s the deal. I’m going to continue writing this blog just as I always have. I’ve been debating whether I should focus on something else because it feels a little weird to dedicate myself to a project that’s relatively invisible to the world. It’ll be 7-years soon, over 1500 posts, with only a handful of regular readers. Even though this blog isn’t much, it’s the only thing I’m inspired to create, so I guess that’s what I’ll do. I’ve always found the writing process satisfying, but the lack of audience and income is slightly vexing.

But in a way, that frustration is a turning point: from wanting to be hidden-away and free from the judgmental eyes of others, to wanting to be seen. Yet I don’t really want to spend any time trying to attract an audience. Oh well. This is a personal diary and will continue to be one I guess. I tried to apply logic, I tried to figure out something more practical to do, but ultimately that’s a failed strategy because logic is for losers.

Logic is not the linchpin that binds this blog. This blog will be whatever it’s meant to be by sheer force of will. What middle-aged man is willing to write a “blog” with zero financial incentive, to the exclusion of any other career-related activity, for almost 7-years? A wacko? If I’m a wacko, I might as well go full-blown wacko. The trouble with anything, is when you half-ass it — in any endeavor, you gotta go all-in.

I write a personal-blog as a “career”, I wear an Apple Watch because it makes me feel like a cyborg, I met my wife in an AOL chatroom, I listen to Super Soul Conversations with Oprah, I love Disney World, I have an incense/essential-oil collection, I play War Robots on my 13″ iPad Pro, and I can be seen riding around town on a kick-scooter — let that sink in. I’m a silly guy. A geek/nerd/hipster/new-age/quirky/wacko. If I attempt to live a practical life, then I’m doing “me” wrong.

I’m not Fonzie, I’m not even Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, I’m a complete dork — and I guess I’m okay with that. I’m a comical character, a source of amusement for myself and others. My problem is, I take life too seriously, I take myself too seriously. I love watching funny stuff, it’s only right that my life is one big wacky adventure starring a goof-ball main-character. Fine, so be it — let there be laughs!

My New Year’s wish was to become a player in the game-of-life that focuses on living-out his role the best he can. I suppose this aligns with that. It’s time to remove the self-imposed limitations and be the authentic me. And although it seems embarrassing to be the real me because there’s nothing left to hide behind, it’s really the best option. In closing, I would like to say “Live long and prosper”, “May the force be with you”, “Nanu Nanu”, and of course “Kiss my grits!”.