Living As If

This is something I’ve been told, dunno if it’s real: if you put everything in place as if it’s true, life will simply follow through. In other words, “if you build it, they will come”.

A quick illustration: if you assemble a lemonade stand, put out signs, mix up some drink, stack the cups, and sit behind the counter, people will actually show up and patronize your business. In a natural world, there’s no reason anybody should ever show up. But in this world, the one we’re living in, customers come when you expect them.

Whereas if you do something half-assed and don’t expect much of it, you’ll see a return on that investment too i.e. nada mucho. If you don’t want customers or profits, don’t worry, they won’t come. That’s just how it is in this world: you find what you seek.

After decades of living here I suppose I can corroborate this theory. Although, I’d add that fulfillment oftentimes sneaks up when I least expect it. But because of my desire for delightful surprises, I guess life is correctly fulfilling my wishes by catching me off guard.

A word of warning: establishing a particular situation by whim-fully buying-on-credit can be a bit dicey. I’d reckon that borrowing is workable if there’s real collateral behind it, but it shouldn’t feel like gambling. Gambling is basically an expectation of loss — remember, you find what you seek.

I’ve been living as-if for the past eight months or so. For the most part, I’ve successfully eschewed thoughts of lack and worry. I’ve been earnestly enjoying myself. I find comfort and joy in my current surroundings. It hasn’t been perfect, but I wonder if I would’ve accepted it if it was.

In a natural world, I should’ve been using my time to establish a viable income to support my new lifestyle. But that’s not what I did. For whatever reason, I’ve been dedicated to establishing the best attitude I can muster. Now THAT hasn’t been easy and it certainly highlights how bad my attitude was.

But my feeling right now is that I can handle the next step. I also recognize that my old attitude could not have supported the lifestyle I want to live. When you have great things for example, sometimes you’re afraid of losing them or sometimes you feel unworthy of having them or sometimes you realize that “things” don’t satisfy like you thought they would.

I came into this world with a messed-up attitude, expecting the worst experience ever. I ignorantly perceived a nefarious nature underlying everything, disparaging all I saw. I was a straight-up hater and sower of negativity. I appreciate that fact now and apologize for it. I further recognize that this world is a paradise providing all that I need, it’s simply up to me to accept the gift I’ve been given. Thank you — and I, for one, welcome our new benevolent overlords.

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Limits of Logic

One of my biggest mistakes was attempting to live a logical life. Basically: if I can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist. Which sounds stupid when I say it, but seemed to make sense at the time. As a kid growing up, you really can’t prove much at all, you’re basing so much of your information on what people are telling you — hearsay evidence at best, which kind of defeats the point.

From my perspective, if I couldn’t see a logical path then the endpoint was unattainable. Therefore, I could only attempt what was simple and obvious. Oh boy does that limit your options in life. In one sense it worked, I really did live the very limited life I imagined. But in another sense, it was so constrained and lackluster that it was kind of meaningless.

But the thing is, you’re not supposed to know how to achieve your goals and dreams — that’s what makes them special and exciting. Duh! If you can directly perceive the way in which to attain something, then you’re not thinking big enough. For example: based on the resources available to me at the time, living in a single-wide mobile-home at a trailer-park seemed the most logical path — and I took it. Whereas when I stopped being a slave to logic, I traveled across the country to move into a two-story top-floor condo with not one, but two balconies. How did that happen? I HAVE NO IDEA. It doesn’t make sense, at least logically.

For several decades mind you, I thought logic was the ideal way in which to live a sensible life. I was wrong. It is in fact the WORST way to live. If you’re unhappy with your life right now, I’m going to guess that you too have attempted to live with a logical outlook. My advice: quit now and never look back. If you pay attention, this is what successful people are always saying: follow your dreams, just do it, don’t take no for an answer, make your own luck, etc, etc. Logic and success are on opposite sides of the coin.

Life is very good at fulfilling expectations. If you expect nothing, you get nothing. Whereas if you expect a zany outcome in which your wildest dreams come true, you can get that too. There are people today that are paid millions of dollars to record themselves playing video games, to mumble into a microphone alongside a beat, to simply talk about their lives on camera, to draw cartoons, to sell ugly Christmas sweaters — the list goes on and on. But the common denominator is this: logic is for losers.

Logic, no and never.
#JustSayNoToLogic

Obstacles of Course

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

In the classic video-game, if Donkey Kong rolls a barrel down at you, do you stare at it, examine it, find displeasure in its appearance, perhaps hate it, curse its existence, wonder why such a thing would be thrown at you? No, you jump over it. Then the next one, and the next, and then the next barrel — until you reach the top. If you stop to ponder, you get crushed.

All the unpleasant, unappealing things you see in life are mere obstacles meant to be overcome and forgotten about. You’re not supposed to take time to examine a hurdle, you’re supposed to leap and move on. So by stopping to ponder, you’re impeding your progress along the path. You’re taking these obstacles too personally, despising them, when you should be appreciating them instead.

If Donkey Kong didn’t throw barrels, you’d simply climb up to the top and win every time. How long do you think you’d play such a game? How fulfilling would victory feel? It is the obstacles you overcome that give meaning to the game. Obstacles form the foundation of every game — and you’ll notice in any story, the central-character must always overcome something.

Your problem therefore, is not “problems”. Your problem is your negativity towards problems. You should want problems. Without problems, you’d walk straight to the top, securing a hollow victory of no significance. Why do we exist in this particular world? To overcome obstacles — that’s the enjoyment we seek as embodied beings within our avatars of flesh.

And your primary obstacle right now is negativity. Once defeated, a whole world of entertaining obstacles opens up for you. But to unlock them, you need the ability to appreciate the lighthearted-nature of the game. If you’re sitting there deathly afraid, then every merry adventure will seem frivolous and not worth the risk. To get to the good stuff, the pessimistic attitude towards problems must end.

Making Connections

So the next obvious question is: as a content-creator, how do you create connections?

If you wanted to make friends, what would you do? Would you wall yourself off? Wear the same smelly clothes everyday? Show hostility towards everyone and everything? OR, would you put the best, most inviting version of yourself out there for all the world to see? Likely the second option, right?

Next: If I tell you some facts and figures, you wouldn’t care — and even if you did, you’d soon forget. But what really sticks, are stories. You need to weave narratives into the minds of your audience. If you analyze the content we consume, it’s mostly filler, simple stuff that takes up time — so it’s not the actual material that matters so much as the way it’s wrapped.

Third: Not any boring story will do, it must evoke emotion. Get the audience to feel and they’ll follow you on whatever yarn you unravel. No one really cares about the exact time you entered a building, they want to feel the urgency and apprehension of the moment your sweat-soaked hand touches the almost-menacing door-handle. Think roller-coaster, not museum-tour.

Now, if you can forgive a slight interruption, I was just pausing to think about how much I appreciate you for reading this. Someone recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, and all I could think about was you: an audience of my very own. Yeah it’s corny, I know. But really, it warms my heart to think about your presence as my presents. Number four: appreciate your audience.

Five: You gotta want it. For example, I don’t want to make pie, my heart’s not into it — so if I do make pie and I’m faced with challenges along the way, I’m probably going to cut corners and not care too much about the final product. Whereas I do want to eat pie (apple or even toffee-pecan) — and I’ll easily eat a third or even half in a single sitting. So, is creating connections your focus? Are you terrified or thrilled by the aspect of connecting with your audience?

To sum it up: Welcome people into a well-kept space. Tell them stories that stir their emotions. Appreciate them, they’re not mere stepping-stones to fame and fortune — the connection IS the goal — content-creators are a dime-a-dozen, you need them more than they need you. The audience is your friend, and you have to go out of your way to make this one of the most important relationships in your life — be respectful and sincere.

Connect the Dots

In business, numbers matter — except when they don’t. I’ve watched nearly every episode of Shark Tank (I might’ve missed some from the first season). The investors will often say “numbers matter” and “You gotta know your numbers! Come on!” But in the next segment when another entrepreneur enters the tank, all of a sudden the Sharks change their tune: “Meh, numbers don’t matter, we’ll figure that stuff out as we go.” What’s the difference? If the investors feel a connection to the entrepreneur, they’ll bend and flex just to make the deal — whereas if the investors don’t feel a connection, they’ll come up with whatever excuses they can to turn the deal down.

It’s the same with writing: content is king, except when it isn’t. There’s thousands of things that can be written about and there’s an audience for each and every topic — so what? Well, text-books have plenty of content, yet people aren’t lining up to read them — it’s because they don’t create connections. It’s not the content, but the connection to the audience that counts. Popular writers cultivate long-standing connections with their readers. Readers don’t care about words, or else they’d have just as much fun reading a dictionary — what they crave are connections.

Likewise, I’ve seen hundreds of stand-up comedy sets, and it wasn’t the specific wording or jokes that mattered — it was a feeling of connection. Hearing jokes told by someone you don’t connect with, is like listening to a guy drone on about nonsense. Whereas if you really connect with a comedian, he can talk about anything and you’ll be entertained. If listening to jokes was what we wanted, we could watch an endless stream of comedians — yet we don’t, we pick a few favorites we connect with.

Similarly with videos on the Internet: why would anyone want to watch some random dude play a video-game for hours on end? The answer? They wouldn’t — but viewers DO want to hang out with a virtual-buddy that’s having a fun time. It’s not about the content, but the connection. It’s the same with songs and lyrics, a song is great only when we connect to it, otherwise it’s: “how can anyone listen to this garbage!”.

Therefore, the actual job of content-creators is to create connections — they just happen to use the medium of content (stories, jokes, videos, music, etc.) to do so. So if you sit there trying to create the best content possible but no one consumes it, it’s as if that content doesn’t even exist. You as a creator want and NEED to connect. To be fulfilled, an artist requires recognition, the feeling that some segment of the world understands and appreciates your work. And it all begins with what? Connection.

Wanted: Writer

Today, I declare myself a professional writer. Whew! That wasn’t so hard was it? But what’s it mean? It means I’ve selected a particular path — and the steps I take upon it, will one-by-one take me to a specific end. From a quick analysis, there seems to be three major components to complete along this path.

The first component is content. I can’t be a writer if there’s nothing to write, right? But the reason I chose this path is because I’ve already proven to myself I can generate a constant stream of content that I enjoy writing. Might it need some fit and finish? Sure, but the raw material is there.

The second component is connecting with an audience. I’ve so-far neglected this aspect big-time, so it’ll be my focus for now. My writing has primarily been a personal-diary approach, so I have to transition to a style that’s more inclusive of others. That’s my challenge, and I’m up for it. The third component is generating revenue. But really, an audience makes this part possible, so it’ll remain on the back-burner until step-two comes to fruition.

So how does one connect with an audience? By wishing it so. In my extensive analysis of content-creators, this seems to be the underlying mechanism, the common-thread they all share. The formula is easy: by performing a particular act (e.g. writing), I intend to attract an audience. It’s my intention that’s key. Previously, I didn’t want an audience, I wasn’t prepared to handle it — now it’s my wish.

“Come on, is it that easy?” THAT EASY!!? Why you little..!! Do you realize how much preparation I put into NOT being scared of an audience. Psh, “that easy”. And don’t forget I also had to prove to myself that I could create worthwhile content. It took over six years for me to accept it — over 1400 entries within this blog serve as the proof I required. Wishing and truly believing in your wish is not an easy thing to do. But wishes are where dreams begin.

Creating Connections

As mentioned previously, I’m in the process of turning my writing hobby into a career. Mind you, I don’t need to do this, I want to do this. I’m getting older and want the accoutrements of a career. After six years of writing this blog, I’ve proven my ability to generate a constant stream of content — so I’m all set in that regard. The missing ingredient, the part I’ve been avoiding, is connecting with an audience.

I’ve been writing to an audience of one: me. In essence, this has been a personal diary, entries were succinct and ideas were dense — everything tightly packed and difficult to digest unless you brought a whole lot of understanding to the table. So congratulations if you’re a regular reader — you’re an impressive individual. But from this point forward, I must broaden the appeal of my writing, stop the self-centered approach, and actually think about others while I write.

Hmm… deep breath. Aha, see! Right there! I found a weakness! It’s you. I default to fearing you. I suppose it IS tough to write while considering that people will read what I write or even worse: respond! Luckily, I’m up for the challenge. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what I’ll do. I no longer believe in a dangerous world that’s hell-bent on my destruction, so I no longer believe that every audience is a sadistic horde attempting to tear-down content-creators in order to shatter their self-esteem.

In fact, in my analysis of content-creators, I’ve often seen them lovingly refer to their audience. “This is OUR success, and none of this would be possible without YOU.” There’s a mutual respect, a bond, and a shared goal of lifting each other up. It’s a family of sorts. And sometimes Uncle Steve gets a little tipsy and yells profanities in the comment section, but so what, no big deal — we compose ourselves and move on to bigger and better things.

And that bigger and better thing is THIS. Connection. In a sense, the content doesn’t matter, it’s simply an excuse to connect. “So what are we doing Saturday night guys!? — Movies? A party? Go bowling? Eat at a restaurant? Karaoke?” No matter what it is, it boils down to meeting-up simply to hang out. And that’s what content-creators facilitate whether they’re blogging about food or fashion, whether they’re live-streaming a video-game or vlogging — it’s all an opportunity to connect.