Infinite Loop

I’m caught in a bit of a loop. I’m designed to have flaws. Therefore, I make lots of mistakes. Yet, I have an appreciation for engineering. I see minimizing mistakes and increasing efficiency as desirable. Therefore, I attempt to fix the flaws I find. Unfortunately, research and experimentation reveal a superficial mechanism that isn’t what it purports to be. It’s artificial – it can’t be fixed, it’s by design.

I keep coming to this realization – but of course I keep forgetting about it (because I’m flawed). Therefore, I’m caught in a loop. How does one typically exit a loop? By falsifying the condition that maintains the loop. In other words: escape the loop by interpreting flaws as desirable. From “flaws = bad” to “flaws = good”.

I have to drop the mindset that imperfect circumstances require “improvement”. I shouldn’t want to make something “better”. In a world comprised of absurdity, there is no “better”. Increased efficiency is not an upgrade – it’s just “hurry-up and wait”. Flaws are not messes that must be cleansed, they’re the mechanisms by which narratives unfold.

I know this. But once I say “this is better than that”, the condition is set and I’m trapped in a loop. What’s even dumber: a flawed character obviously doesn’t know what’s “better” – he’s likely to be wrong and doesn’t realize. Therefore, a logical option would be: don’t make judgements and stop evaluating everything. Dissatisfaction is a direct result of these appraisals.

Moving Forward

Okay, so what’s my strategy going into Round 2? First, let’s get some definitions going. What exactly is that feeling of “dissatisfaction”? I think it might be “helpless loser that’s bullied by life”. I tend to go along pretty effortlessly and then all of a sudden it feels like I get slapped for minding my own business. In addition to getting slapped, it also feels like I can’t have many of the things I want.

So perhaps my goal is to “feel like a winner”. Hm, can I just redefine my situation and simply declare myself a winner? But, a major issue surfaces whenever undesirable things happen and I feel like a victim getting picked-on by life. I feel bad and can’t muster any positivity – who wants to play with a bully basically.

What about seeing undesirable situations as “tests”. These are contrived circumstances specifically designed to evoke certain negative emotions. You fail if you let it bother you. If frustration or discomfort surfaces, you lose. To pass, you have to dismiss the incident and immediately move on. “Oh, did that just happen? Well that’s on you, life. I’m gonna tune-out for a bit. Maybe I’ll check-in later if I see something I’m interested in.”

In this sense, life can play whatever game it wants, and I’ll pay attention if it’s something worth watching. I can just zone-out and sit quietly for however long I choose. That sounds like a winner to me. So on my end, I need to maintain a neutral to positive reaction to every experience I encounter. No anger, frustration, sadness, fear, annoyance, disgust, disappointment, jealousy, boredom, etc.

I’ve been trying to find a cozy spot to settle into – but I keep getting spanked every time I come close. Therefore, I should conclude that life is NOT about finding a cozy spot. It’s more of a stress-test. But I don’t think it’s a torture-test, where you push something until it’s destroyed. I think the harshest strain I experience might be my own doing – when I allow cascading failure to build up into feeling overwhelmed.

So now, I won’t bother looking for a nice comfortable steady-state. I don’t expect relentless punishment, but I realize that “tests” will come. Is life trying my patience? Yes, yes it is. Is it purposefully irritating me? Yep. My job is to pass these tests. Identify obstacles and avoid smashing into them as I navigate a pathway through life. Okay, let’s do this. “Round 2, FIGHT!”

Dream Realized

The circumstances are as follows. I have a sensation of consciousness that resides within an absurd world filled with highly coordinated narratives. The degree of drama suggests a completely artificial environment. Emotional responses seem to be the primary purpose of all this commotion. There’s a perceptible level of discomfort involved in the experience. This agitation encourages action. Comprehensive solutions don’t exist, only temporary remedies and coping strategies. The origins of this realm are elusive.

But why? Is it merely the innocent dream of a supernatural being? Is it cosmic consciousness driven to insanity, having spent eons in solitude? Or is it the birth of consciousness itself? Do I reside in the mind of an amoeba that’s currently achieving sentience? But if it’s an amoeba, why would it dream of “TikTok challenges” and “dank memes”? Clearly this entity has been around for a very long time and is possibly contemplating every conceivable topic, including “Snapchat filters”.

Essentially this means the physical world I thought I knew doesn’t exist. But that’s fine, I didn’t really like it that much (no offense). I’m a whimsical dream, so what. But if the dreamer’s dream even struggles with the notion of consciousness, does that suggest the dreamer might be struggling too? As a dream, I experience daily drama within a wacky world – but there’s also an underlying struggle with consciousness, identity, and purpose.

Who am I really? Why am I having this experience? What should I be doing? Why does it feel like I’m a character in an absurd story about nothing in particular? Why am I also the audience? Am I a reflection of the dreamer’s own struggle with consciousness? Does the dreamer want my input? Is this dream a test-environment to help discover a solution? If the problem is solved here, in dreams, would it solve the dreamer’s dilemma?

Imagined Success

Thought experiment: imagine the most successful person in the world. Someone you admire in every way. Someone whose success you’d readily want for yourself. Describe that person and how they live:

He’s not in a constant state of struggle. He doesn’t strain through the day, barely holding it together, just getting by. He is “calm” personified. As currents flow, he’s not caught up in them, but decides which streams to ride.

He’s in a position to help whoever he wants. If someone’s distress strikes a sentimental chord within him, he can offer aid to alleviate their woe. He doesn’t feel a responsibility to fix the entirety of the world, he simply improves and beautifies whatever’s in his reach.

He laughs at life, amused by its absurdity. He takes lighthearted interest in the narratives and wishes the characters well. His interactions with others evoke delight, he’s always welcomed, and missed when absent.

He creates things that feel significant, things that people appreciate. He experiences joy from the creative process and from the recognition his work receives. Many find enjoyment in his efforts.

Character Analysis

Thought exercise: Who do you want your character to be? But, he must be flawed, experience difficulties, be surrounded by a bumbling cast of characters, forced to make choices containing suboptimal options, have good and bad days, and live within a faulty world.

Note: It’s probably a good idea if he’s able to deal with problematic circumstances. For example, if I said my character is a leader that gets things done – he’ll be leading a bunch of screw-ups and he’ll need the mental fortitude to handle the many failures he’ll experience. In essence, the strongest character might be one that can effectively process discontentment.

My character, version 1.0:

“Life on Earth” is an immersive theatrical experience in which you’ll live as a “human”. In this flaw-full world, you’ll engage in wacky and dramatic scenes that’ll enthrall and appall. From experiential stories, to fictional depictions, to musings within your own mind – there are exciting narratives around every corner. Can you keep calm amidst the tumult in this land of endless storytelling!?

My character is a visitor to “Life on Earth”. My goal is to have an enjoyable time. I want to get a general overview of the environment, doing just enough to grasp the basic idea of what’s going on, nothing too intense. I’d like a small family so I can experience love and affection in my daily life. I also want to wield tools and interact with technology.

To live as a human, one must become human. For full immersion, any knowledge of my origin is gone from my consciousness and the world actively tries to keep me in the dark about it. Since I chose to visit an action-factory instead of a lifeless moon, I’m willing to accept a certain amount of uncertainty and surprise (it’s like getting into one of those giant wave-pools at a water-park). I’m here for the vibrancy of the experience after-all.

My character is a bit of a nerd, he’s generally aloof but enthusiastic about the stuff he’s into. He has difficulty communicating, participating, appreciating, and deciding. But I accept these “flaws” because all characters have attributes that distance them from perfection – it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Protagonists are always striving toward an ideal they can’t reach. The problems and peculiarities of the world are what make for the most interesting stories.

As for my character’s “strengths”, he offers an atypical perspective blended with a bit of humor. He possesses a robust resilience and a deep dedication. He has a way with logic and reasoning – always seeking to find the optimal, most logical solution to a problem. He strives toward an ideal comprised of a lighthearted attitude, an ability to appreciate, a proficiency in creativity, and a mastery of effective communication.

On a daily basis, he engages with life through a combined expression of his flaws, strengths, and ideals. He seeks understanding of the world he’s in. He follows his interests and consumes narratives wherever he finds them. He partakes in fun little hobbies and plays with tools. He’s also the goto guy when friends seek a certain complexity or depth in conversation.

Existential Stage

If life is an immersive theater, then specific outcomes aren’t important. Whether something is accomplished doesn’t matter. And the point isn’t to fix a system that’s made to be broken. A plot without problems is no longer a story, it’s “The End”. Nor is finding fulfillment possible, it can’t be done – characters are sieves from which achievement and attainment rapidly drain.

The biggest mistake a participant can make is to take the absurdity seriously – it only leads to frustration. Should things be going wrong in your life and the wider world? Yes, of course. Should you feel unfulfilled at all times? Yes, of course. What should you be doing about this unbalanced state of affairs? Acting! You must play a part.

First, customize your character, dress him up, research some things you want him to know, work on his attitude – shape him into a character you want to play. Second: scenes, choices, and interactions will come. You can’t avoid participation in an immersive environment, there’s no place to hide. Even your own thoughts will come looking for you.

Important note: don’t fret about the character you’re playing. He’s intentionally flawed and VERY far from perfect. Things will NOT proceed as planned. You can guarantee he’s going to look foolish and he’ll fail repeatedly as he’s bombarded by difficult circumstances. But that’s what interesting narratives are all about: a protagonist that’s forced to contend with a broken world. Have fun.

Annoyance Theater

The thing about immersive theater is the collaborative aspect, as it’s often ill-defined. Are there scripted actors? Improvisation? Who’s who? Is it co-crafted emergent entertainment or a specific story that’s written out and witnessed in close proximity. I suppose that ambiguity is part of the fun, making it a dance with give-and-take and a bit of mystery and surprise.

I think in this world, the input of the audience is taken into account to some degree. But to what degree I’m not sure. For example, I’ve been having a very uncomfortable morning for the past few hours. That’s not even atypical, as I’m uncomfortable a lot. But this morning seemed more frustrating than usual, filled with a bunch of circumstances that seemed tailor-made to incite annoyance. Why? What did I do to invite such unpleasantries? And what kind of production would go through the effort of portraying such things?

Maybe like a timer in an escape-room, pressure is put on the audience to act. I feel the pressure, but I’m honestly at a loss – where do I apply my output in order to relieve the pushing? I need a hint. In an immersive theater there’s usually someone pointing the way. Maybe I skipped the introductory instructions. Maybe I’m just supposed to keep looking, but with a keener eye backed by increased dedication.

I gotta be honest though, the show I’m experiencing sucks. I really just want to sit in a chair and observe. Every part of this immersive stuff has been too intense or unsatisfying – just overall uncomfortable. If I’m a beta-tester in a soon-to-be-released immersive simulation that allows players to experience human life on Earth, my report is not going to be a positive one. No one should have to experience an endless procession of dissatisfaction. It’s just torture at some point.

P.S. I can obviously perceive the negative tone of this essay. I am also at the statistical nadir of human happiness i.e. mid-life. Is this more of a mid-life crisis manifesting? One of the specific points a participant must endure in order to get the full experience of humanity? Maybe one day I’ll look back at this and laugh joyfully, surrounded by the things I love and fully satisfied in the life I live. Here’s to then.

Human Connection

The world facilitates dissatisfaction. We’re deliberately presented with suboptimal options for choices we have to make. Our memory tortures us with events from our past, yet readily forgets any insightful realizations that could ease our burdens. We long for what we don’t have and get bored as soon as we get it. We eat the wrong thing and we’re rushing to the toilet. My point is this: the world unapologetically inflicts turmoil upon its inhabitants.

Sounds pretty bad – it doesn’t seem like a nice place to live. But, what if this turbulent condition indirectly results in something else. Perhaps agitating inhabitants isn’t the end-goal, but the secret-sauce that encourages human connection and creativity? With things always going wrong, we have lots to talk about, problems to ponder, stuff to fix or replace. People connect over what they dislike or often bond through shared burdens. By this drama, human narratives are created.

Of course there’s an endless series of choices, that’s life forcing you to act! And of course your options are suboptimal, that’s what stories are made of! A protagonist is always forced to act and struggle along a strenuous path surrounded by bumbling characters. All the dumb stuff going on in the world, in your life, wherever, is just fodder for human interaction and fellowship. The world is a story generator.

Of course you’re supposed to yearn for something. Of course it’s always just out of reach. Of course you constantly forget important tidbits of information that would’ve helped in your current situation. Of course you always end up in circumstances that make you look foolish. Of course you feel like something isn’t quite right – it isn’t! You’re not paranoid, the world really IS subjecting you to a convoluted plot in which you’ll experience many difficulties.

But the point isn’t to fix something that’s made to be broken. If you find yourself in the middle of a play, you don’t yell at the actors for pretending to be someone else, you don’t point out all the perceived plot holes, you don’t try to convince everyone that the play is just one big lie. You need to accept that life is one of those lame immersive plays in which actors wander around the room pretending that you’re a part of the play too. Since you don’t have a script, your dialog is going to be rough, just clear your mind and say whatever comes to you in that moment.

Imposed Options

I think this world is trying very hard to paint the illusion of self-determination. “People are deciding their own fate!” As a species, as political units, as families, as individuals – we struggle against whatever limits our ability to choose. “I want to make the choices that shape my life! I want to make my own decisions!” Yet, this aspect seems a bit too contrived. The premise seems to be: “I’ll be more accepting of this world if I feel as though I’m choosing my way through it.”

One might even describe life as a series of choices. But who’s setting the scene that provides the very narrow set of options? For example, I would’ve picked a completely different start to my day than what I experienced. I’m not even saying it was a bad morning, it wasn’t – I’m simply saying this isn’t the path I’d choose. There’s a lot less robots involved for instance. So, the options I was actually provided weren’t satisfactory in that sense.

To be honest, I’ve often picked “none of the above” when presented with options. That means I refused to participate, I chose to sit in a room by myself. To me, life has been a series of undesirable options. And the more I’m presented with such choices, the more I resent being placed in this position. I don’t want to choose the “least-worst” option every time. I want to choose the “best” among other greats.

Imagine loving ice-cream and someone takes you to a frozen-yogurt store. “Hey, it’s close enough right?” But it’s not, you dislike the subtle sourness of yogurt, it tastes like bad-milk to you. Then you’re asked what flavor you’d like. “Well, none, I don’t like yogurt in any form.” But then YOU’RE the bad-guy! “Oh, why do I offer you anything! You’re so unappreciative!” But if you’d have gone to an ice-cream parlor, those flavor choices would’ve been a source of delight. Vanilla! Maybe mint-chocolate-chip today! Oh boy!

Is my character simply an ungrateful complainer? I don’t deny that I’m tuned to notice very subtle changes and differences – or that I have a tendency to express my dissatisfaction. But I know I have an ability to respond well to things I like. Just this afternoon for example, I installed a new router on my network and it improved Internet performance. Great! Love it! Awesome-sauce! Let’s have more successes like that!

But again, my options were “slow Internet” or “faster Internet” – there wasn’t a bunch of amazing options to choose from. The option I’d have picked was: “jack into a virtual world with instantaneous transfer rates and imperceptible lag, where my avatar encounters the ultimate in immersive experiences”. Instead, the world provides some not-so-awesome options and expects me to choose one, and then I’m supposed to feel invested, even grateful?

Clearly, the world is designed to introduce an endless series of choices populated by suboptimal options. In every instance where a choice must be made, I can think of a much better option – but I’m stuck with picking the “least-worst”. Why would a world regularly present suboptimal options – with results I’m supposed to accept and appreciate?

Maybe it’s stress-testing? Perhaps I’m an advanced AI within a computer simulation. Maybe I’m a human being studied by aliens – or an alien being studied by humans. But it’s obviously not a destructive test, it doesn’t push past a certain threshold. Something’s been keeping me fed, housed, and generally cared for all these years (sub-optimally though). Maybe it’s a type of prison and it keeps me alive so I can experience punishment through dissatisfaction.

Or maybe it’s a game-show, like ones where people subject themselves to surviving alone in the wilderness. Maybe there’s a competitive aspect. Maybe I volunteered. Or maybe I setup the entire system and injected my consciousness into it. Maybe I live in the carefree future but wanted to experience stressful conditions, just to see what it was like. Maybe I’m a youngster, sent here as a character-building exercise. What’s exercise after-all, but the process of repeatedly exposing oneself to stressors.

And it’s not just externally, my mind presents me with unpleasant options all day long. I wouldn’t purposefully consider ninety-percent of the crap my imagination conjures up. But there I am, contemplating dumb stuff all the time. My point is this: this world is deliberately confronting me with choices containing limited low-quality options. This world ensures my existence but within an uncomfortable environment (i.e. can’t get cozy). And only through intense introspection am I able to perceive this predicament i.e. there’s an attempt to obfuscate the artificiality.

Through experience, I can say this though: things seem to go better when I interpret this experience lightheartedly. “Oh, a bunch of crap-options? Haha! Well we’ll see what I can do with those! What a neat challenge, lol!” Or, “Oh boy, my mind loves coming up with unpleasant scenarios, haha!” I suppose the game is this: see if you can get through this “fun house” while maintaining your composure. If you lose your patience, get frustrated, worry, get scared, etc. – you lose points. Most points, wins.

Meta Mission

Following-up on the previous post.

If you’re always in meta-mode, thinking about life itself instead of actually doing something, I’m guessing that’s a poor strategy. So, attempting to get more into the meta-zone might be a bad option. Maybe you DO want to get lost into life. And anyway, you can’t really sustain meta-mental routines, they just fade into the background as the chatty-mind lives its daily life.

But what you CAN sustain, are real-world physical routines. So it sounds like you need a mission – something when you wake-up, you wanna do, everyday. A purpose, an endeavor in which to dedicate yourself. But what? I’ve been wrestling with THAT question as long as any other. Maybe the answer doesn’t matter? Maybe it’s the dedication that counts?

Hm, I’m not sure about that because there have been things over the years that I dedicated time and effort to – but I never felt fulfilled by any of them. Why do you think I started analyzing the meta so much? I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on here so I could have an enjoyable experience.

And I don’t think it can be as simple as a hobby, the effort needs significance. Missions are motivating, they drive you to act – they stand out from your daily life, they’re memorable and thus sustainable. A lot of missions seek to improve the world in some specific way. Or sometimes they’re about proving something to yourself. Give it some thought, try to come up with something.