Appreciation Station

What’s ice-cream without appreciation? An insult, an undigestible concoction, absolute garbage? Without appreciation, it’s nothing special at best, and something horrible at worst. This condition applies to everything: something is only worthwhile if it’s appreciated. Therefore, appreciation is the secret-sauce that turns mere rock into pure gold.

That’s magic by the way — a spell of sorts. Something of no-value becomes something of high-value through the application of appreciation. In other words: if you can focus your appreciation, you can turn anything into a treasure. Simply devise a story in which the object-in-question becomes the hero — and voila, you create gold.

The inverse is also true. Devise a wicked tale in which the object-in-question becomes a villain — and voila, you create crap. It’s an amazing power you possess: the ability to add or subtract value from anything, simply based on the story you tell yourself. The enjoyment you experience in life is directly related to these stories.

Not enjoying life? Then you’re obviously focused on unpleasant stories that make appreciation difficult. Whereas the logical path is to focus on amazing stories that fill you with delight. Why aren’t you doing this already? Because, a vehicle in motion will tend to drift and crash if no one’s steering it. You’ve neglected to steer your mind, letting it swerve this way and that.

Grab the wheel! It’s okay, it’s within your ability and it’s expected of you. Yes, it’ll take some practice to get the hang of it — but the sooner you start and the more you do it, the better you’ll get. You’ll no longer veer-off course and into every tree. Eventually life will become the awesome adventure you knew it could be.

Small Scale

Sometimes I play video-games. Oftentimes it’s for research purposes. If life is a simulation, a simpler and smaller-scale implementation of it can aid in understanding the larger game I find myself within. The way in which I interact with games can provide clues as to what I’m doing wrong in regular life.

For example, I notice that I’m often fighting with the controls. I’m often blaming them for my poor performance. Ah, these friggin buttons! Gah, this touch-screen is slowing me down! If only I had better tools to work with!! Yet, it’s the same interface everyone else is using — but for some reason I’m having a major problem with it.

That’s an issue because I focus on the controls as the sole source of my problem. Rather than adapting to them and working within provided parameters, I struggle against them in a hopeless battle of attrition. You WILL submit to ME!!! Yet being just a collection of buttons, they sit there silently and never change.

It’s true in this game as well. I’ve been complaining about the interface forever. I honestly don’t get it. I don’t know how to do anything in this world so I sit staring at the scenes flashing by. And when I do try to engage, I crash. No not an actual crash, but things get unpleasant — fast. Therefore, I simply resign myself to watching.

In games I complain the entire time, yet due to an inherent masochism I keep at it — losing 20 times for every 1 win. I get a rush when the odds are stacked against me — the hopelessness and frustration is intoxicating. It’s like poking at a sore-spot just to feel the tingling sensation of pain. BUT it’s stressful and ultimately I don’t enjoy it. Therefore, I don’t want to experience that kind of scenario anymore.

So what are my options? I suppose I have to accept and appreciate the controls for what they are — and NOT criticize them. I have to adapt, not them. It’s MY timing that needs work, not the control mechanism. I have to seek aspects of the game I DO like, facets I can comfortably enjoy. And I think it’s fine to watch other people play, but I might try to squad-up more — isolated adventures are inherently harder.

I tend to default to solo-mode, trying to do everything myself. Yet in games, I know my stress-levels are higher when all the pressure’s on me and there’s no room for goofing-off. It’s nice to be part of a team and allow other members to fill in the gaps. When alone, I have to know everything, whereas in a team I just have to do my particular part.

I came into this world with my back to the wall, not trusting anyone. “Those suckas won’t catch me slippin.” And they never did! They never actually tried, but I was ready! Hm, what I think this all boils down to is this: it’s NOT the controls, it’s NOT the game itself, it’s the fact that this is a squad-based game and I’ve rejected team-play in favor of trying to do things on my own — yet my character is not capable of performing every role, and consequently fails at the overall objective.

Therefore, to succeed at this game, I need to be an effective teammate. I can’t do it all on my own, nor should I attempt to do so. There’s no trophy at the end anyway — the overall objective IS the squad. Who cares about attaining arbitrary goals, it’s the camaraderie you develop along the way and the shared experiences that make team-games worth playing. It’s not about how well YOU succeed, it’s about how well you contribute to the success of the team you find yourself within.

Without a team, you’re just a freak on a field with a ball and no one to pass to. As an individual, you obviously can’t compete in the larger game. No matter how hard you train, you simply can’t fill all the positions. And even if you tried, what a boring experience it is without a celebratory victory party and no one to high-five — nothing but you struggling against impossible odds for a trophy that isn’t there.

So here is the lesson for today: strive to be the best teammate you can become.

Big Brain Time

What do you do when you know you’re in a dream and you also realize that dreams don’t adhere to logic? It’s Big Brain Time! That’s right, it’s time to apply amusingly absurd solutions to all your dream-world problems. In a dream, logic is for losers, it won’t work — B does not necessarily follow A.

For example, do you want to completely change your life? What you DON’T do, is start a gradual process of incremental improvement. That’s dumb — it’s too logical. What you DO, is make a collage of pretty pictures that visually describes the life you want to live. Eventually, your life will morph into whatever you imagined. Sound stupid? Good, it should — THAT’S how you know it’s right.

You may think I’m being facetious, but I assure you I’m not. As a former logical-thinker who utterly failed at life due to the over-application of logic, I’m simply speaking from experience. Logic IS for losers. If you want a great life, you gotta go big-brain. You have to come up with crazy ways to go from A to Z. Or better yet, A to Alpha-Centauri. In a dream, you can go wherever you want.

Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Then do it! There’s no “right time” to wait for, there’s nothing you need to know, no preparation necessary, no luck involved, no stars to align, no talent needed — you’re in dream, you simply wish it into existence. Focus on the goal and it manifests around you. If you believe you need a logical path to get there — you’re wrong. Get there the big-brain way!

Rich and Famous

Are you rich and famous? If not, why not? No offense, but you’re in a freakin’ simulation designed to bring dreams to life!! If you’re not doing something amazing, you’re being an absolute tool.

Imagine playing Minecraft for the first time. You enter the world, lost in the middle of the woods — so you seek out the nearest village. You reckon that your only course of action is to rent a room from one of the villagers while helping to pick crops from the local farm. You go to bed every night for fear of monsters and never stray too far. What a stupid way to play, right?

You should be out exploring and building grand monuments as testament to your creative power and saving villages from pillagers. You should be building portals to other realms or collecting treasures or mining to parts unknown. Your name should be known far and wide in that world — your mark should be made everywhere you go. THAT is how you play!

Imagine living out that mundane life in Minecraft and meeting up with other players at the end of it all. You might ask one: so what did you do while in the world? “Well I sought the End Portal and defeated the Ender Dragon. What about you?” Oh, well I lived in a small room in a village and picked carrots mostly. “WTF bro!?!”

But that’s a game, blah, blah, blah! Yet, in interview after interview of rich and famous people, you’ll hear them talk about how they once wished to be where they currently are. Then one day, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by the physical manifestation of their dreams. It happens again and again — it can’t be a coincidence!

In addition, they always add: and you too can fulfill YOUR dreams. Are they lying? Are they simply the “lucky ones”? OR maybe you’re a moron that’s been playing this game wrong. Which is more likely to be true: that rich and famous people are lying to you OR you’re clueless? Spoiler Alert! You’re a chump.

Have you not seen untalented people rise to the rank of rich and famous!? How is that possible? Because this is a world where dreams come true. Whereas you’re focused on thoughts of lack and limitation, they go through the world unencumbered by such nonsense. It doesn’t take luck or hard-work or talent or any in-world stuff at all — it takes focus.

Filter out the lack and limitation and focus only on the life you want to live. This is a dream-world and your path is selected through focus. Believe in a mundane world and you shall have it. Believe in a scary world and it’s yours. Believe in a grand world of fanciful delights and you’ll have that. Become rich and famous, there’s no reason not to.

Space Game

I’m still knee-deep in computer-programming activities. My latest experiment/release is an Astroids-like Space Game. It’s using Javascript to draw on a Canvas element by utilizing a bunch of trigonometry. Because I like using vanilla Javascript and a raw Canvas element, I had roll my own collision-detection mechanism.

I’ve also been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix (I’m currently up to the middle of season 3). That particular series is chock-full of competency by the way. If you want to bathe yourself in the concept of people performing their jobs exceptionally, that’s the one to watch. Picard is professionalism personified — and of course the entire crew steps up whenever duty calls.

I think the show has been keeping me from getting road-blocked by problems that spring-up along the way. In the past, I’d often quit when the going got too tough. But now, if something isn’t functioning properly, it means I need more research or perhaps a different approach. With enough perseverance, there’s always a solution. Quitting is not an option: there is only the performance of one’s duty till the end.

It’s dedication to the craft. In Star Trek, that craft was an actual craft, the starship Enterprise. In my case, the craft is the art of programming. It’s authoring and organizing sets of complex instructions. It’s coercing pixels to dance across the screen in predictable as well as unpredictable paths. It’s seeking out new ways and unique solutions, boldly coding where no developer has gone before.

Programmer Part II

I am going to reattach the label of “programmer” to myself. The last time I was serious about programming was approximately eight years ago when I was selling desktop-apps on the Mac App Store. Nothing fancy, just little programs I whipped up.

On one hand, I’ve always been fascinated by programming. But on the other hand, I was never able to create something significant enough to manifest a satisfying career. So after a bunch of years going nowhere, I got fed-up and quit.

As an idealist, I imagined creating the most awesome-est software possible that generated tons of passive-income as I sat there raking-in all the profits and praise. When that didn’t happen, I said “Gah, what’s the use!” and gave-up.

Now I’m setting my sights a LOT lower. My current definition of programmer is: someone that writes and runs code — that’s it. And that’s all I plan to do for now: write and run code. Sure, anyone can type in some pseudo-code, but not everyone can get code to compile.

As I was recently reacquainting myself with programming, it was just sooo familiar. With such an intimate knowledge, how can I not have programming in my life? It’s like family. “Hello C#! So good to see you and .NET again! We should totally reminisce later! Oh hey PHP, ha yeah… you look just like I remember you… ooh who’s that over there!? Hey Godot! Wow, haven’t seen you around, but it seems like I know you already. Hello WebGL, wow you seem like a powerful backend for browsers!”

To me, programming is mostly a means to paint pixels on a screen. Even the text I’m typing is just painted-on pixels — a series of ever-changing specks with varying hues. So my task is to make those little dots dance — and by the power of programming, I shall.

Search for Success

Did you ever try searching for the thing you’re good at? Like when you see an interview with a super-successful person, and they mention how well-suited they were for the particular path they took. And so you start thinking, “Hmm, maybe I have an obvious talent within a specific domain as well!” So you run down a checklist of traits and abilities trying to ascertain where you fit within the catalog of available professions.

Psh. After several decades, I’ve yet to come up with anything conclusive. The areas which I’ve explored most are: exercise/nutrition, computer-programming, writing. Yet nothing has yet to snowball into a viable long-term career. In each of those domains, I invested YEARS of practice. The most financially successful was programming, but for some reason it just kinda stalled.

Recently, I procured a Windows-based laptop and installed a bunch of programming-related stuff on it. I’ve been browsing around for the most suitable programming paradigm — one that matches my temperament and skill-set. So far I’ve installed Python, Python with Qt, C# and .NET, Roblox Studio, Godot, and Android Studio with Kotlin. I also looked at a few others but passed them by.

I don’t have anything particular I want to make, I just want to “program” and have fun while doing so. Therefore I’m attempting to find an appropriate medium with which to express myself — something that’s powerful but not too complex. So far Godot seems the most promising, it’s a blank canvas backed by a physics engine — but of course its feature-rich flexibility comes with a learning curve. I’d actually like to get into robotics programming, but I haven’t found an entry-point yet.

But anyway, that’s where I’m at right now: trying to find something I’m good at. Of course I was very good at being negative and complaining and scaring myself, but now I’m looking for an activity on the fun-side of life. Something I can invest myself into and experience a return of appreciation. “Wow Rich, great job! Thank goodness you’re around to do what you do!” That kinda thing.