Myth of Productivity

My work of late has consisted of trying to develop a better attitude. And one thing holding me back is valuing the concept of grueling-work. “Why do that the easy way, when there’s a much harder way to do it!!!” See? That’s stupid. Yet that’s what my attitude boils down to: “Work harder, not smarter! And how dare you enjoy yourself!!!” That’s masochism, plain and simple.

I believed that frivolous activity was worth less than “productive” activity. Yet, I’ve noticed that the less “productive” I am, the easier life gets. It turns out that life is NOT a struggle unless YOU struggle against it. Productivity is a myth because you can’t actually produce anything of value. In other words, if everything’s pixels, ALL activity is frivolous.

In addition: either life gives it to you, or you don’t get it. Effort doesn’t guarantee outcomes i.e. planting seeds won’t always result in bountiful harvests. There’s a certain combination of conditions that must be met or else your fields won’t yield. You could work sun-up to sun-down and still get nothing. In order to receive what life provides, you have to play the game correctly.

In fact, “working hard” displays a fundamental misunderstanding of life. You’re assuming your tiny efforts amount to something significant. Yet you’re completely missing the point of how much life is doing for you while deluding yourself into believing YOU did it. But the most you can do is appreciatively accept what’s already provided.

Imagine you’re at a party. You walk over to the buffet-table and pile tons of food onto your plate. It gets so heavy that you’re starting to break a sweat. You struggle to maintain your balance as you find a seat — plus it’s a bit crowded so it takes a couple minutes. You sit down to eat and proceed to stuff yourself. Then you sit there gloating and boasting about how much effort and work you put-in to obtain and consume all that food. THAT is what patting yourself on the back for “all your hard work” is like. You simply partook of what was already there!! You did NOTHING.

So the better attitude is this: Thank you life for this amazing party. Wow, it really has everything I could want. There’s people to interact with, food to eat, chocolate cake especially, heck there’s even a pool to swim in! There’s tons of activities to keep me busy. I’m actually overwhelmed by the many choices. But don’t worry, I’ll try my hardest to have fun! I understand that my duty as a guest is to enjoy my time here. I also understand that I should focus on the activities I derive the most delight from. Thanks again!

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Being Yourself

As per usual, I was listening to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. In this one, Oprah herself was talking to an audience. Being that this is a simulated world, I believe people like Oprah are high-level players that come in with an insane skill-level. My friend has a natural ability in games for instance, and it’s frustrating to play against her because she easily wins and achieves all the objectives. Whereas my gameplay-style is dogged determination despite insurmountable odds, along with a clumsy progression.

Hm, I guess that’s how I play in real-life too. But anyway, Oprah’s point was this: Be yourself and be rewarded. That was her formula for success i.e. being herself — and this world rewarded her for it. That sounds right to me. Take War Robots for example: if you use a fast-dash minimally-armored robot as a heavy-hitting bruiser, you’re going to get smashed. Whereas if you use a tank-like bot to snag beacons, you’re going to be too slow. Characters are designed with certain attributes that must match the selected task.

For example, when I imagine myself, I picture “Hulk Hogan” ready to rain-down a leg-drop on my much weaker opponent as the power of Hulkamania surges through my veins. Yet, this is an absurd characterization that isn’t even close to the truth. I clearly didn’t get the dossier that explained my character’s strengths and weaknesses (okay, I ignored it). But that’s dumb because it’s not my character. I’m NOT physically intimidating NOR charismatic NOR do I light-up capacity-crowds with my limitless energy.

It’s like when Oprah tried to be a monotone-sounding news-anchor, it just didn’t work, it wasn’t her. It turns out, I’m not designed to effortlessly steamroll my way through obstacles like a Mack Truck. Oops, my bad. Although maybe my character IS supposed to be so clueless that he doesn’t realize he’s a chihuahua yapping at a pack of Rocky Mountain wolves — perhaps for comedic effect. That’s why it’s hard to “be yourself”, you’re not always sure what aspects are the “real” you.

But I think the “real” you is usually located slightly below the frenetic and easily-frightened ego. Oftentimes it takes quiet reflection and the power of meditation to get there. And luckily, Oprah provided some advice. The tasks you should engage with are those that produce “flow”, they get you “in the zone”, they cause you to lose track of time yet you remain energized, they’re things you could do for hours. And if you do these things, you too will receive the rewards life has to offer. Whereas if you do something unbefitting to your character? Suffering is the only possible result.

So, what are some things I do in which I lose track of time? Hmm. Watching shows/videos. Playing video-games. Talking to my friend. Writing blog posts. Shopping. Toying around with tools/gadgets. Problem-solving. Having discussions/debates. Hm, is that me in a nutshell? Well that doesn’t seem powerful at all, no wonder I chose to think of myself as a “Hulk Hogan” type. But there’s my problem: a distorted definition of power. I didn’t want to be some nerd that got his lunch-money stolen, I wanted to be the biggest baddest dude in the ring.

Yet if I think about power today, it’s Elon Musk I envision, not the Hulkster. Modern heroes are the titans of technology. The coolest things aren’t flying-elbows delivered by muscular-physiques, but handheld computers used in self-driving cars. Though to be fair, when I was a kid in the 80s, the WWF Superstars were the biggest thing around — computers and technology were barely there. It seems like I missed the window. I guess I should’ve studied to be an engineer. I guess… I guess I failed to heed my calling….

“He’s down! Ladies and gentleman, this doesn’t look good! Here comes the ref to lift his arm and check for consciousness — oh no, it’s just flopping back down to the mat. The ref is starting the three-count. One! Two! WAIT! What’s this?! The arm is lifting!! Ladies and gentleman, there it is! He’s up!! This is impossible!! And it’s a throw into the ropes! BOOM! A clothesline and his opponent is down! WHAT!? It’s a flying leg-drop!! ONE! TWO! THREE!! Ding! Ding! Ding! Unbelievable!!!!”

Remember: my gameplay-style is dogged determination despite insurmountable odds, along with a clumsy progression. So this is just par for the course. I don’t take the easy routes. I mean, I try to, but they don’t work — so I keep at it until I wear-down every obstacle in my path. It’s the power of erosion. Sandpaper-Man, with the ability to eventually wear away even the most powerful opponent over a very long period of time through abrasiveness and grit. Rub, rub, and awaaay!

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.

Premise of Pretend

You are fully within your abilities to reject this world and everything in it. You’ll suffer obviously, but it’s possible. So your job, is to simply accept this scenario as valid. Accept the simulation as actually happening. Buy into the premise it presents and have fun. Don’t overdue it though, don’t over-invest and act all crazy and super-serious.

Think of it this way. You’re a child meeting up with your friend and she starts pretending to be Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. She keeps calling you Bubblebee and telling you that you have to defeat Megatron and his evil Decepticons. But you’re like, “Huh!?” And she’s like “Come on Bubblebee!”. And you’re like, “I don’t want to play this, it’s dumb.” She’s obviously disappointed at your choice and you both sit there bored for the rest of the afternoon.

You could’ve just accepted her premise and played along, eventually having fun with the game-of-pretend. But no, you had to be a wet-blanket and ruin her good-time as well as your own. Great job, sport.

Or scenario two: you DO accept her premise but take it too far. You’re like, “Holy sh*t, Optimus!!! The Decepticons are everwhere!! They’re going to destroy us!!” And she’s like, “Whoa calm down dude, it’s just a game.” But you’re like, “A GAME?!! We’re about to die!!! Take cover!! Hide!!”.

You could’ve accepted her premise a bit more lightheartedly, and got into a groove that generated some entertainment for you both. But no, you had to turn the dial up to eleven and ruin everyone’s fun again. Great job, buckaroo.

So here’s the deal: yes you’re in a simulation that’s essentially one giant game of pretend. And just like a game of pretend, you have the ability to delve into your character — or not. It’s obviously in your best interest to get into character, or else you’ll be bored-to-tears while waiting for the game to end. But don’t take it too seriously either, it’s a game after-all, don’t freak out when you’re presented with surprising scenarios.

And remember this: just like any other game of pretend, you’re free to add your own ideas into it. You don’t have to live with the scenarios you’re initially presented with. You can morph them into scenes that suit your tastes. So if you’re not enjoying yourself, there are two things you need to check: how invested you are in the game (too much or not enough) — and whether you’re focusing on the parts you personally enjoy. Plus, helping playmates have a good time is a great way to pass the time too.

The Reality Within

Within the darkest recesses of men’s minds lies the core of reality by which existence churns-out the scenes that produce an experience known as life. What a funny thing it is, the quaint drama wrapped in a shining spectacle that constitutes a lifespan. And for each body on the stage, a role is assigned. Know your role and perform it well. But at the same time, become the audience and witness the performance as you play it.

To play it well, you must be loose and lighthearted. Never too serious, yet respecting the boundry that defines you. Watch, but never too closely for the detail blurs when scrutinized. To play yourself, allow yourself to surface by clearing off surface-thoughts — those weeds that block your essence from experiencing the sun. A chatty audience is all it is, so silence them, the show must go on and you’ve your part to perform.

Bouncer, actor, audience. Keep the crowd from getting rowdy, read the lines as they’re provided, watch with interested fascination as it all unfolds. This is the experience we come for. Fun and games, entertainment at its finest. It’s not a perfect production, sometimes the lights pop-off, costumes rip, lines are late, some characters are flat, details are left out, logic is defied — but overall it works, serving its purpose to thrill and elicit an interesting time.

Political Debate

I’ve often watched people bicker back and forth about political systems and perspectives. It appears as if they’re attempting to offer some sort of “solution” to the problems facing society today. But by the fact that they never attempt to reach a consensus, we can conclude that they argue simply for the sake of it. They’re pigs rolling in mud, they don’t want to clean up the filth, they in fact love it.

Nothing’s wrong with a pointless argument as long as participants are enjoying the match. It’s like debating whether Star Wars or Star Trek is better — there’s no real answer. As long as you’re having fun discussing whether hand-phasers are a superior weapon to lightsabers, then that’s fine. But if such speculation infuriates you, then it’s a practice you should avoid.

Additionally, the problems of the world keep perpetuating without end. There’s ALWAYS a problem. Therefore, we can readily deduce that there exists a chaotic core to existence. This world ceaselessly churns out a constant stream of hurdles for us to jump over. After all, every game needs obstacles, something to overcome.

Therefore, political debate is futile. It’s sparring with words, a jabbering contest, it solves nothing. Plus there’s an endless stream of problems plaguing the world, plugging one hole only opens up two more. So repeat after me: political debate does not solve problems, it’s simply people arguing for sport.

Why am I saying this? Once in awhile I get caught up in the political stuff and start taking it too seriously, so I’m reminding myself to calm down. There’s no doubt I find some aspects fun, but too much junk food isn’t good for you. And politics is junk food through and through. People that truly want to help others don’t incessantly deliberate, they actually get out there and do it.

Virtual Vehicles

It all started at the supermarket. I was in the car waiting for my friend to come out. Scanning the exit door, I noticed the oldest old-lady you’ve ever seen. She could barely push the carriage in front of her, she could scarcely find the keys to her car, she could hardly lift the groceries into the back seat, then she hobbled into her car. But zip, zap, zoom — she punched the accelerator and away she went, not an issue.

Funny isn’t it? A barely functional person has all the dexterity in the world when it comes to driving a multi-ton contraption of welded steel, a device that requires the proficiency to enact split-second decisions. Too funny in fact. So it got me wondering: what’s going on here. And then I knew. Driving is a “routine”. You get into a car, sit in the driver seat, turn it on, grab the wheel, place your foot on the pedal, and the routine begins. Autopilot turns on and away you go.

When I was a kid, I once went for a bike ride on a road that included a rather large hill. That day I went down the hill and pedaled along to increase my speed — which wasn’t a good idea. I was going too fast, my front wheel started to quiver back and forth, I got nervous and wiped out. My knee was a mess but I survived. At most, I was probably going around 15 to 20 mph down that hill.

Let me ask you this, can you normally make split-second death-defying decisions? I can’t obviously. Yet every one of us can somehow take a fire-powered land-rocket to speeds of 70 mph on a regular basis amongst other barely-functional people for DECADES and come out unscathed? Hm. Okay. In a physical reality, that doesn’t make sense.

For instance, how do we intuitively know how to drive? I don’t know about you, but my driving lessons were less than rigorous. My primary lesson was driving in a parking lot with my mom in the passenger seat for about 30 minutes. I even screwed up during the official driving-test and still passed. My test consisted of driving down an empty residential street (no more than 30 mph) and parking next to a curb — that was it. But that somehow qualified me for highway driving.

Yet if you sit me down in front of a piano or have me hold a guitar, I play like crap despite having toyed around with them for years. If you hand my 74 year old mother some hand-tools, she’s pretty incapable of using them — yet give her the biggest, most powerful tool you can legally purchase (a car) — and she’ll drive like the best of ’em. Funny huh?

So driving is a pre-programmed “routine”, so what. So what!? Well a routine doesn’t run in an isolated environment, it only runs as part of a larger program. The obviousness of driving serves to highlight the virtual-nature of the wider world. Unfortunately, driving speeds kept getting faster and faster — which becomes unbelievable at some point. But the program is accounting for this now: robotic self-driving cars.

On first blush, you’d think autonomous cars would be the unbelievable part of the story. That’s until you consider people that can’t even use a simple screwdriver or a hammer, let alone a cordless drill, are driving all the time without any problem whatsoever. Not long from now we’ll forget that people even drove cars and this plot-hole will be patched. Remember, people used to get around by horse, which was an autonomous vehicle of sorts. Even boats pretty much just float there when left unattended.

All we can do as players in this game is politely overlook such an obvious inconsistency. Though for myself, I use it as a reminder of what type of world this is: virtual. And I do that because I tend to take things too seriously. I see the illusions before me as real physical objects and react accordingly, which leads to a fear-filled time. But when I remember the illusionary nature of existence, and the fact that this is a manufactured environment, I relax and appreciate what an impressive place this is.

I guess I got a little more than I expected at the supermarket that day.