English Class

It was the early 90s and Mr. Haviland seemed straight out of a different era. While many of us wore baseball caps with t-shirts and jeans, this guy had an actual suit on — with posture and diction to match. He’d often refer to us as Mister or Miss so-and-so — always proper and always polite. Although he wasn’t physically intimidating, his demeanor demanded respect.

A teacher from a bygone age acting his part. We students acted our part too, a listless bunch that didn’t care. We weren’t unique in our disposition of course, we simply expressed it in a manner appropriate to the times we were in. Skateboards, metal-bands, and ridiculing “try-hards” (people that actually cared and tried to do well). Think Beavis and Butt-Head.

While Mr. Haviland proceeded on his anachronistic course, we proceeded on ours — a civil exchange nonetheless. At this point, you’re probably waiting to hear a poignant anecdote. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. I’m not a storyteller. I mention all this simply to remember an interesting character I once knew. I’ve always been in awe at how well he performed his role.

He seemed to enjoy who he was and never varied, a polished professional. I was a freshman when he was my teacher but our paths last crossed in study-hall when he was the teacher-in-charge — taking attendance and doing whatever teachers did (grading papers I’d assume). I never saw him after that. I heard he retired not too many years later, having worked there for a few decades.

In life, there are those that relish their well-defined roles and there are those that avoid being pinned-down by labels. But are those living as nonconformists simply acting out the role of “contrarian” in their wholesale rejection of the status quo? Instead of some “square” that sold his soul to the system, perhaps Mr. Haviland was the most Zen-like of us all.

Xmas Msg

To me, the true meaning of Christmas is a lighthearted celebration of life. During a time of darkness and confusion, I believe Jesus came down to Earth to brighten things up. He turned water into wine, hung out with whoever, argued with austere authorities, and healed those in need. From the heavens, God saw the pain and misery that man put himself through and sent His only begotten son as a means to lighten the mood.

But of course man rejected Jesus’s message and sent his ass home the hard way. Jesus himself complained of man’s hardened heart and man’s inability to understand the message of peace and joy. But thankfully, God doesn’t give up so easily and we’re reminded of this message every year with a lighted tree pointing towards the heavens, encircled by gifts below — because that’s what life is, a gift from God.

It’s no coincidence that Santa looks like a fictionalized representation of God in heaven, an old man sitting atop a throne listening to Christmas wishes and fulfilling them with the help of his angelic elves and flying sleigh. Every year God provides a new opportunity for us to accept the simple premise that life is an experience that should evoke enjoyment in the living.

The world was never intended to be dark and dreary, only man’s negativity makes it so. Therefore, the true Christmas Miracle begins within, it comes from the acceptance and adoption of merriment wherever we go. With a “Merry Christmas!” and a “Happy Holidays!” we remind ourselves and each other that life is a party in which we’re all invited guests. And as guests, it is our sacred duty to participate and enjoy the festivities.

Patterns of Thought

Manage your thoughts, blah, blah, blah…. Yet the REAL question is this: why have unpleasant thoughts to begin with? How quickly a mood can sour when a dour thought comes to mind. If those thoughts simply never came, there’d be no need to manage them. So what’s the source, what’s going on here?

My current guess is as follows. The thoughts traveling through our thought-stream are based on patterns-of-thought we maintain in the mind. In other words, if I watch a scary movie before bed, I’ll likely have a nightmare that night. For example, if I read a lot about computer programming, my incoming thoughts will likely be related to programming.

Concentrate on sad themes and you’ll have sad thoughts. Focus on frustration and you’ll have frustrating thoughts. Delve into drama and you’ll have dramatic thoughts. Worry about whatever, and you’ll have an endless supply of worrisome thoughts. Therefore, bathe your mind in material that promotes the life you want to live.

Establish a better pattern through discipline. Discipline is the process of purposefully focusing your thoughts on a preselected target. And the way in which you direct your attention is by telling yourself a convincing and motivating story. You need a narrative that’s believable and fills you with enough energy to maintain itself.

For example, scaring yourself through constant worry works wonders. I could tell myself there are deadly germs everywhere and I’d die if I failed to wash my hands. Boom! Now I’m motivated to wash my hands all day. But scaring yourself into action is a low-quality method of motivation:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

If you want high-quality thoughts coming in, you have to bathe yourself in high-quality material. If you want a delightful life, then the books you read, the movies you watch, the shows you stream, and even the thoughts you stop to ponder, all have to be in the form of something you find delightful. You can’t watch disturbing shows or contemplate dour ideas and expect your incoming thoughts to be pleasant.

You must create and maintain patterns that paint images of success and enjoyment. Your job is to craft a story that fills your thoughts with hopefulness and delight on a consistent basis. Your life will reflect the consistency of the pattern you establish: wandering thoughts create a meandering life that feels like a rollercoaster. Use discipline to set a steady course.

Wrong View

What if I told you the world isn’t what you think it is? What if I said it’s NOT actually a torture-chamber designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering? Well if you’re anything like me, you’d say: “You idiot! I can see with my own eyes that this world is a hellscape in which strife and misery are rampant! You’re either a fool or you’re trying to lure me into a false sense of security! Either way, I have no time for this nonsense!”

Fair enough. But what if I told you that the unpleasantness you’re experiencing is simply a misinterpretation on your part? You focused on one tiny aspect while completely missing the larger world you’re within. For example, imagine you entered an immersive game in which you were surrounded by dirt — it’s dark and dank and the sounds you hear are low and ominous. You feel frightened so you stay put, not sure what else to do. You remain that way for the entirety of the game.

Upon exiting, you say to the game’s developer: “Wow, that sucked! What a crap game.” And the developer replies: “Oh that’s odd, it was supposed to be really fun. Hm. Well what’d you think about the skies and the oceans and the llamas? How about the mountains? Weren’t they majestic at least?” Confused, you say: “What are you talking about?! It was dark dirt all around!” The developer replies: “Oh, you were supposed to dig through that, like a growing plant emerging from the soil. Beyond the dirt was an expansive world filled with every imaginable delight.”

In other words, you messed up. Whoopsies. Yes, you are currently surrounded by muck and mire, but it’s YOU who is torturing yourself. YOU simply need to stop scaring yourself. Existence is more dreamlike than you think: the way in which you experience this world correlates directly with your thoughts. In other words, a bad attitude makes everything seem unpleasant whereas a positive attitude makes everything seem great. External circumstances are the RESULT of your attitude, they are NOT the cause. You had that reversed.

You believe that horrible things happen which then cause you to have a miserable time. In other words: bad things first, feeling bad second. No. In actuality, you felt bad, and that turbulence created a storm of horrible happenings. You were in a bad mood and told yourself a sad story. Everything around you became dark and grey and unpleasant to be around. THAT is what’s happening here.

To get out from the muck and mire you must STOP telling yourself terrible tales of gloom & doom. That’s IT! Suddenly you’ll spring forth from the mud, the sun emerging overhead, a resplendent glow lighting up the land, and you’ll begin to experience the delightfulness that surrounds. You’ll be glad to be within such a world, ever grateful for the enjoyment you’re experiencing. THAT is the right view.

Just In Time

Hurry! You’re running out of time!! Just kidding, time isn’t a thing here. It seems like it is, but it’s only a construct that aids in storytelling. Just like in dreams or movies, time is fluid — years can pass in seconds or seconds can slow to an eternity. No big deal.

For example, deadlines are dramatic story elements. You’re in a dreamworld, nothing’s actually due here. Oh sure, you can pretend you’ve got an important appointment that you simply MUST make. “Oh no! I’m late!! What am I gonna do now!?” Add some pressure with a dash of histrionics and the mundane becomes exciting!

That’s a silly way to experience existence though: like a white rabbit running through Wonderland. For a higher-quality experience, you’ll want to ignore that kinda nonsense. So relax. Get comfy and sit still for a bit. Something less intense yet equally captivating will eventually come to you. Just watch your thoughts and sort through the incoming ideas.

“Oh I like that one!” So do that one. When you no longer believe in timetables, there’s no strain or frustration — you can’t be late. The day expands or contracts depending on the needs of the narrative. Today transforms while tomorrow waits. Cast the shackle of time from your wrist and embrace the timelessness of now.

Thought Supply

In this world, random thoughts are the raw material we have to work with. We’re bombarded by a ceaseless supply of images and ideas that flow into our awareness. By paying attention to some thoughts, while ignoring others, we create continuity — we craft a narrative that tells the story of our existence.

Oftentimes, we cling to images that evoke the most excitement within ourselves. These can be scenes that scare or embarrass or frustrate. Unfortunately, stringing such a story together makes life seem like an intense nightmare filled with nothing but pain and suffering. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Life really isn’t like that UNLESS those are the only thoughts we focus on. All kinds of thoughts reach our awareness — it’s within our power to choose the ones we prefer. If we want a pleasant life, we are free to select satisfying thoughts. Whereas if we want a thrilling life, we can select the most frightening thoughts we can find.

Some of us assume that all thoughts are valid, and in order to survive, we must listen to the thoughts that predict dire circumstances. This is wrong — this is a recipe for a miserable life. Whereas the way to enjoy existence, is to ignore those thoughts while contemplating only the most delightful images and ideas.

Survival in this world is not achieved by avoiding danger. Whereas thriving in this world IS achieved by cultivating enjoyable thoughts. This is a thought-based place whose foundation is comprised of dreams rather than solid rock. To build the strongest foundation possible, select the highest quality thoughts.

Origin of Species

Being that I believe in Simulation Theory, that kinda kills the whole Darwinism thing. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. That’s not to say that evolutionary-like patterns and inheritance aren’t fundamental parts of this world — but those things are done behind the scenes, in code — NOT by means of an ongoing struggle for survival.

As a programmer myself, I reuse code all the time. It’s common to use previously devised patterns and algorithms as the foundation of new stuff. So if you examine the codebase of my various programs, you can see undeniable similarities and an evolving design. And by building on previous code, each iteration grows in complexity.

Darwinism presumes that an epic competition occurred over the course of millions of years and WE, along with our cats and dogs, are the end result. But not truly the end, for the battle rages on in an endless quest to develop the most suitable beings for this harsh and brutal environment — a place that provides no quarter to the weak.

Except I AM weak. I’m quite inept in fact. And the people I’ve known throughout my life are pretty weak too, no offense. Physically, emotionally — just dealing with life, as well as lacking in self-control and determination — it’s a sad state of affairs I’d say. The “struggle for survival” just isn’t there.

Are we the anomalies? I don’t think so. I think this world was created as-is to be a playground for bodiless beings. WE are NOT the sum total of organic evolution, WE are what happens when the incorporeal dream. With a spark of inspiration, an entire world with ever-branching narratives filled the void.

Oh a big-bang happened alright — it was the moment the dream began. The storybook opened and pages began filling with tales of embodied beings living outlandish lives filled with chaotic circumstances. The crazier the better, each iteration trying to outdo whatever came before. So it is THIS, this silly whimsical dream, that is the origin of species.