Amusing Obstacles

In a video-game, your character is constantly confronted with obstacles and often dies because of them — or at least receives some damage. Consequently, do we consider video-games to be about “suffering”? No, we consider them to be “fun” in fact. So when considering the ongoings of “real life”, why should we consider life to be about suffering?

Growing up, I was overwhelmed by the intensity of life — this is too real, and I’m so fragile. Life was out to get me and I had to hide. But of course it was out to get me, those were the obstacles — that’s where the fun comes from!! I was just too enthralled by the spectacle to realize what was going on.

And of course this is the case. I’ve literally done nothing to ensure my own survival for the past several decades — yet I’m still here. It’s as if life keeps throwing balls at my face and I’m just too dumbfounded to realize I should catch them. I keep staring at the balls coming at me while calling myself a victim of life’s abuse.

But in games, we don’t call that abuse. Life is literally attempting to engage us in a challenging adventure. There can be no doubt about it, the narratives are everywhere and we’re not even responsible for maintaining ourselves. Notice how the body just chugs along without our intervening — the heart pumps, air goes in and out, food digests, thoughts flow through our mind like a constant stream — the whole thing is on auto-pilot, we’re just along for the ride.

So here’s the deal: yes, you’re not paranoid, life really has been out to get you — you specifically, you’re not just a statistic. And no you can’t hide, life knows exactly where you are at all times. But don’t worry, this is all in good fun. If life was truly about survival, your pitiful-ass would’ve been dead a hundred times over by now.

Life is looking out for you, obviously. But life is like a mamma-bird that keeps pushing you out of the nest — she knows you can do it, but you stubbornly refuse to open your wings, believing yourself incapable of flying. Consequently, you plop on the ground with a thud. Uh, ya gotta open those wings bro. That’s your choice, life does provide the vehicle you ride, but you gotta consent and press a few buttons now and again.

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I mean, how else can you explain my life in a positive way? I’m a loser because I love the feeling of vulnerability, of being beaten to near defeat… then all of a sudden… WHAT?! Ladies and gentlemen! This is unbelievable! He’s up! This can’t be happening!! When all hope was lost, he’s on his feet! And it’s a BODY-SLAM!!! ONE! TWO! THREE!! Ding! Ding! Ding! It’s all over!!! He’s done it!

I loved professional wrestling as a kid. The days when Hulk Hogan was out cold, his hand limp, then… then on the third attempt when the ref tested the champs hand by raising it up — it stayed in the air. It vibrated with the power and intensity of a thousand Hulkamanics surging through his twenty-four-inch pythons. He came to life and BOOM! Leg-dropped his opponent into a deep sleep — retaining the World Wrestling Federation championship belt.

That’s the premise of the Rocky movies for instance — guy gets beaten to a pulp, eventually recovers and triumphs. That’s most fighting movies in fact — even The Karate Kid. It’s such a common narrative in life. Perhaps that’s my story too. Guy is a complete loser, comes from a loser family, lives a loser life, then when you finally accept his loser-status… BOOM!!! He’s suddenly a success-story. He’s admired, his opinion matters, he’s no longer ignored, people from all over the world are interested in his thoughts.

I just can’t believe I’m a loser. I don’t see it. I’ll sit here writing my thoughts down until through sheer force-of-will everyone accepts me as a world-class thinker. Luckily I have no choice in the matter, my persistence doesn’t allow me to deviate from this belief. I’ve tried to stop writing this blog for instance, I’ve been so far unsuccessful in those attempts. Despite the fact that people show little-to-no-interest in what I have to say — I don’t care, I just keep going. One day that switch will flip.

Advanced Mode

I don’t believe life is optimized. I think the long swaths of boredom, the unending uncertainty, the frustration, the frequent break-downs and repairs, the repeating storylines, and the cross-exposure to other individual narratives all demonstrate this.

If life was optimized, our personal narrative would be programmed and tuned precisely to our tastes. We’d have goals and a vision leading us down a specific path. We’d be confident in the direction we’re heading. Our chassis would chug-along trouble-free. The overall narrative would be full of interesting surprises — happy twists and turns that excite and delight. And upon our path we’d be surrounded by scenery and extras that only serve to support our journey.

Instead, I think we’re thrown into a big open-ended game-world in which we just have to make do. So either this is the best the developers could come up with, or it’s an “advanced mode”.

For instance, I was just playing a racing/driving game in which I turned off all the “helper” settings. There’s no auto-braking, no assisted-steering and no anti-skid — in other words, I crash into the wall a lot. But I didn’t like the auto-settings because it feels like I’m not doing enough. I opted for advanced-mode — I literally said, please make this harder for me, I want to crash and burn a lot, I want to experience failure. And it’s true, I do prefer the feeling of control more-so than having my hand-held all the time.

If I so readily opt for advanced-mode in games, then perhaps I opted to turn-off a lot of the auto-steering mechanisms in this life. While I do think life is obviously supporting and encouraging my existence, it’s definitely not optimized. As a being beyond this earthly abode, believing so strongly in my abilities, did I decide to do this to myself? Subject myself to an extra dose of chaos and confusion just so I could demonstrate my ability to control a bucking bronco?

Although, it would be quite embarrassing to later learn that I had ALL the auto-steering mechanisms ON, and I just completely suck at this game.

Losing is Fun

When you play a video-game, you typically want to perform well and win. But the funny thing is, that if you performed well and won EVERY time, the desire to play that video-game would diminish quickly. In other words, you love intermittent reward. You don’t want to be a pure force of dominance, you want to have your ass handed to you time and time again.

Like in everyday life, you don’t want the person that’s too easy to please — you prefer ’em hard to get. You want to work at it, chip away until you’ve won them over. You don’t want everything handed to you, you want to apply your abilities and expend effort. You say you don’t, you say you want everything easy, but you’re full of sh*t obviously.

So here’s the deal: if life didn’t hand you your ass every now and again, you’d complain about how boring everything is — that’s a fact. What interesting narrative do you know of where the main character isn’t challenged in some way? There’s always something to stir the pot, always an issue to be resolved.

Think about it, you’ve been going around bad-mouthing life for giving you a hard-time when it was only obeying your wishes. Of course life would give you all the goodies you desire, but you don’t want that, do you. Instantaneous attainment is boring, there’s no point. You want that slow anticipation-filled storyline with all the ups and downs.

Video-games, books, movies — these are nothing without obstacles to overcome. Appreciate these barriers — they’re the very thing that makes life fun. The wrong thing to do is see them as ruining your experience — THEY ARE THE EXPERIENCE. If you were to personally design a game or write a book, of course you’d introduce obstructions and problems and setbacks into the narrative.

Listen, it’s easy. When an obstacle comes, deal with it — that’s what it’s there for — as an opportunity to do something different. Don’t complain about the break in routine. If your life went along without variance you’d be crying about how monotonous it is. You NEED constant stimulation in the form of tests and challenges.

Now get in there, and show ’em what you’ve got!!

Thoughtful Career

Whenever I contemplate a new career, I usually say, “Well I’m probably not gonna be the best <blank>, I may even be the worst <blank>, but I’m still a <blank>”. But when it comes to thinking, I don’t have that same self-deprecating lack of confidence. I AM a talented thinker and I have full faith in my ability. Others might doubt my skill, but I don’t. And it’s possible that I might be an idiot who only believes himself a good thinker, but my default is full confidence in this area.

You might wonder, how are you going to be a professional thinker? Well there’s writing, such as blogs and books, and there’s even videos. There are definitely pre-existing well-established venues for the expression of thought — that’s not an issue.

But one of my issues is this: even though I believe that my thinking-ability is top-notch, I have trouble finding people that share that opinion. For instance:

Rich: Hey Michelle, I have this awesome idea about such and such!!
Michelle: Um, okay. Sounds cool. Now I gotta get back to whatever I was doing.
Rich: Oh… yeah… later.

The cynic will think that I’m just an idiot and my ideas are lame. But I’m not a cynic on this topic, I think my only problem is finding the proper audience. If I’m excited by certain ideas, there’s bound to be at least some other people that find them peachy-keen too. Maybe I just need to express my thoughts in a more entertaining way — perhaps that’s the process I’m trying to hone by writing this blog for the past six years. As I see it now, that’s just part of the path I’m on: developing my presentation and attracting an audience.

I’ve been getting side-tracked thinking I’m a writer. I’m not. I never cared about writing — only as much as it was a means to express my thoughts. I’m an okay writer, but that’s not where my confidence lies. So what’s the difference between a writer and a thinker? A writer paints with words, I know a writer and her words often make me believe I’m part of the scene she’s describing. Whereas a thinker tickles your intellect, telling you things that make your mind sneeze with surprise.

A thinker has a deeper perspective than you can typically fathom, pulling forth mysteries that move you. A thinker can take you touring the depths of your mind while shining a light to aid you out. A thinker thrives in the deep-end of contemplation, an emissary of introspection. A spelunker of consciousness, if you will.

That’s what I am, a thinker of thoughts. But Rich, doesn’t everyone think? Well everyone can play the piano too, but it doesn’t mean they’re good at it. Thinking just happens to be MY realm of expertise, I’m a natural at it. Everyday I have to return to solitude and contemplate the world and all within it. So that’s it, that’s my career now: Thinker.

Thinking Thoughts

Okay, I’ve been thinking about it a bit, plus I’ve been watchin’ some videos about finding-your-purpose and such. Who am I? Simply a guy that thinks, that’s it — and I don’t want to be anything but that. I will write those thoughts down or speak them aloud, but that’s it.

I understand that I’ll be tested and tempted to divert from this path — external and internal pressures will attempt to push me off. If I don’t budge I’ll be rewarded… eventually. And I’m okay with that. I like thinking. I LOVE thinking. It’s true that it currently provides me no income, no esteem or prestige — but I can do nothing else, I just want to think.

I understand that I’m still relatively young for a thinker, still working my way up in the world of thoughts. That’s fine, I get it — what kind of epic journey starts at the top, as there’s only one direction to go from there (Spoiler alert! It’s down). Maybe I’m an author, a blogger perhaps, a philosopher of sorts, or someday I’ll make videos in which I express my thoughts, who knows.

But what I do know, is that my journey entails thinking, and I’ll stubbornly dedicate many hours to my craft because that’s what I enjoy doing. And as is the style of today, here is my diss track:

Y’all just an amateur thinkin’ you’re thinkin’.
Got nothin on me, your thoughts just stinkin’.
Thinkin’ like Lincoln, I’m startin’ civil wars,
Your ideas so tiresome, folks droppin’ on floors.
While your sleepin’, dreamin’ you’re a winner,
I’m awake schemin’ ’bout, servin’ you for dinner.
What you don’t know, I’ve already forgotten,
What you got to offer, I know that it’s rotten’.
Just sit down son, listen to the teacher,
I’m center stage, while you’re in the bleacher.
Thoughts like a rocket, they’ll blast you into space,
Leavin’ you strugglin’, confusion on your face.
If I thought it worth it, I’d give you a lesson,
But I’ll just stop here, keepin’ you guessin’.

Good versus Evil

Do you know what evil craves? Power. Infinite power. The power to manipulate existence and all within it — to bend men and element to its will.

Then what is good? Good relinquishes power. Despite having measureless might, good lets go — allowing everything to run its course.

If a creator is good, what would he do? He would divest himself of power — split into a billion shards scattered upon a canvas, each more powerless than the next. Individually these droplets of divinity would roll around as condensation covered glass. Yet in concert these flecks of light broadcast forth a radiant glow, illuminating the solitude of space.

Then what would the devil do? Attempt to consolidate power. Full of fear he would manipulate all within his reach, exerting influence in order to tame whatever seems unpredictable. Corralling drops into containers and creating darkness in which to hide from the light. But an artist he is not, so chaos is what ensues.

What should you do? Be good of course. Let the flecks spray where they may. Do your carefully arranged patterns ever equal those of nature’s natural beauty? Never. Your stinted machinations are not worth the effort. Instead, allow the artistry to flow through you, guiding all that you do. As a leaf delicately falls from the tree, as water winds its way down a river, as glowing rays beam forth from the sun, allow your interactions with the world to simply pour out.

Remove fear, remove the desire to manipulate, allow the forces within your sphere to progress as they please. A brush touches paint to canvas, an artist moves the brush, ability as well as inspiration drives the artist — all of these aspects come together to form the masterpiece. You can’t do it alone, but by appreciating this, you become a willing part of the process that does it.

Release your resistance. Let go your control. Be good.