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!!

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Separated Shards

According to the biblical story that tells of a tower in the city of Babel, at one time the entirety of mankind spoke a single language. Because of this unhindered ability to collaborate, mankind could do anything, they even had the power to build a tower that reaches into the heavens. Because of this, the creator-of-all came down and confounded men’s speech so they could no longer understand each other. And thus the many languages of the world were put into place.

I’ve often thought that people are limited by Harrison Bergeron style restraints (the story by Kurt Vonnegut). But instead of external restraints, people are limited by internal ones such as forgetfulness. And it’s certainly true that different languages slow down our ability to collaborate. The world includes these restraints because they create a better game-playing experience. If everyone had unlimited abilities, the world would be too malleable — and with so many cooks-in-the-kitchen it’d just turn to mush.

If wishes became instantly true, a simple wish to obliterate the world would come true too. With unlimited ability to create, comes the limitless ability to destroy. We can therefore imagine the need for speed-bumps. And speaking of global collaboration, the Internet is reminiscent of such a tool. But what happens when the hive-mind goes negative? Is it better to remain as isolated sections of the world or should we truly come together as one?

Some aspects of spirituality speak about mankind developing into a oneness. But because we seem so purposefully separated, perhaps there’s a good reason for it. All this differentiation allows for drama and discovery, it’s what creates the most interesting stories. In any narrative, the cast is populated by unique characters each with their own traits and foibles. And as we can plainly observe, the Internet is not serving to unite the world but simply allows factions to continue on a different playing field.

Just imagine if humanity did achieve oneness, if they did build a tower to the creator-of-all, then what? I think it’d be Game Over. For instance, if the world is actually God split into many shards, then a reunification would end the experience of mortal existence — God would be whole having realized who He is. And afterward, He would be ready to explode into a billion shards once again. Therefore, I don’t think the purpose of spirituality is to achieve nearness to God or even each other, but simply to help inhabitants have a better time on Earth.

Why would a creator not want enjoyment and appreciation to come from his creation? So if you’re having a hard time understanding life, spirituality can clue you in. It can alleviate the stress of immersion by creating a comfortable perspective. It can explain that life is merely a game, not a chance-based torture chamber. We can gladly accept our restraints because it makes the game entertaining as we try to figure out a way through. What CAN we do? Because of our innate ignorance we get to test and find out, that’s the enjoyment of exploration.

Focus Part 2

Preamble: I recognize that I lack proper focus. I’m not focusing enough on what I prefer. And by not focusing, my mind readily wanders over to what I don’t prefer. Because of that, I’m going to engage in some exercises to practice directing my focus. I’m about to paint some positive mental pictures. I’m writing them, as opposed to just thinking them, because writing is something I do nowadays. I’ll be writing about situations in which I am engaged with life and enjoying myself. These stories won’t apply to anyone but me, but perhaps this example could demonstrate the practice.

In the not so distant future:

So the windfall came in. I’m a lottery winner. You’ll laugh of course, thinking I’m joking. And I will be, but not in the way you think. When you finally do believe me, you’ll laugh again, this time about how unbelievably lazy I am: first in my unwillingness to put forth any external effort, and then in my lack of creativity in devising a means to make money. But I’ll remind you that I did play the game, I entered into an ancient covenant by moving into a trailer-park several years ago thus aligning my fate with a lottery win. You’ll laugh again at my silly antics, at the stubbornly offbeat way I choose to go about my journey through life.

You’ll wonder where I’m going next, then like after a Super Bowl win, I’ll declare: “I’m going to Disney World!!”. And I will. I’ll stay at several of the deluxe resorts, a few nights each, as well as the new Four Seasons from where I’ll make an appointment to browse some properties over at Golden Oak. Just think, they developed an actual residential neighborhood literally right down the street from Fort Wilderness, my childhood dream home. It would be downright disrespectful of me not to look. You’ll laugh again about what a goofball I am for wanting to live with Mickey and the gang. But the puzzle piece fits — why else does such a place exist?

Who knows though, I like having options, I’ll live where ever it feels right. But Disney World has always felt like home. Just walking into the lobby at the Grand Floridian feels right, especially at night when the band’s playing. A bunch of years ago, we had a vow-renewal at the Wedding Pavilion right next door. Although I’ve visited the Grand Flo many times, I’ve never actually stayed overnight — so perhaps that’ll be the first stop. And I think my wife always wanted to try the large guest-only pool at the Beach Club, so that’ll be another stop. I always enjoy walking around the Boardwalk area and going through the International Gateway into the France pavilion, now it’ll be right next door.

And when I tire of pastries from the Boulangerie-Patisserie, maybe then we’ll go stay at the Four Seasons and tour the houses I mentioned. I reckon I’ll be able to stop over for a day-visit to Fort Wilderness next-door too. You have to keep in mind that some people’s lives are dedicated to creating these magical places — and what good would that devotion be if there was no one to appreciate it? Imagine you develop an awesome thing but nobody gets it. With Disney, I get it. I want to be there. I appreciate the spectacle, the show that’s put on by cast members each and every day.

There’s all sorts of roles in this grand play we call life, somebody’s gotta be the wealthy patron. I know that’s my role, I feel it. When my undemanding ever-appreciative over-tipping family shows up, it’s gonna make people’s day. “Gosh, what a nice family that was!”, “Hey Rich! Wow, nice to see you back! What can I get for you today?”, “Of course I’ll get you a refill, it’s my pleasure!”, “Don’t worry Rich, your reservation is all set!” I’m no longer going to be embarrassed about my silly dreams. This whole world is an amusement park, and I should be doing what amuses me — that’s how you live life right!

P.S. Of course I haven’t forgoten about you, Celebration. I’ll go and visit, heck I’ll probably check out some homes there too.

Focus Focus Focus

Preamble: I recognize that I lack proper focus. I’m not focusing enough on what I prefer. And by not focusing, my mind readily wanders over to what I don’t prefer. Because of that, I’m going to engage in some exercises to practice directing my focus. I’m about to paint some positive mental pictures. I’m writing them, as opposed to just thinking them, because writing is something I do nowadays. I’ll be writing about situations in which I am engaged with life and enjoying myself. These stories won’t apply to anyone but me, but perhaps this example could demonstrate the practice.

When I was a boy, most times I was either in the classroom or in my bedroom. But when we went camping, boy it was a whole other story. As soon as we parked, I was out the door and barely returned until our trip was over. I was free, ridin’ my bike, meetin’ other kids, money in my pocket, goin’ to the arcade, grabbin’ a bite to eat, explorin’ everywhere I could. Life was a vacation, the days were the perfect weather with perfect temperatures. What were authority figures? Responsibilities? Twernt nothin’ but distant memories soon outweighed by fun and freedom.

Now mind you, I do enjoy the good life — make no mistake. Although some nights I slept in a tent, it was sittin’ but feet from a large motor-home with all the comforts of home. One of my favorite places to visit was a Yogi-Bear themed campground. You could see me tearin’ down those dirt roads on my bike on the way to play mini-golf and grab a slushy at the snack-bar. And once in awhile you’d catch me swimmin’, canoein’, or even fishin’ in the river that flowed lazily alongside the campground.

But my most favoritest place? Well shoot, you know it has to be Fort Wilderness in Disney World. If I coulda lived there I woulda. Just a kid ridin’ my bike down to grab some french toast for breakfast at Trail’s End! Mmm just thinkin’ ’bout it makes me remember how much I loved it. Just hand ’em my card and it was all paid. There weren’t no stoppin’ me there, I was out and about livin’ however I pleased. Heck, one time me an’ my friend grabbed a bunch of newspapers from the dispenser and delivered them to campsites just to be paperboys for the day.

My favorite excursion while there was always boardin’ the Magic Kingdom boat from Fort Wilderness. Twas a magical journey from the frontier to a realm of pure imagination. My second favorite excursion was the Monorail to Epcot, it was like travelin’ into the future, a world of tomorrow. Boy, did I love Spaceship Earth. And nighttime twernt nothin to come in from, why that’s when the light-shows and fireworks would be in full-effect. Transportation ran the same either way. And the rides in the parks, why those would be walk-on at that point.

I suppose what I loved was the limitlessness to engage. Pickin’ and choosin’ from the buffet that was laid before me. There were no thoughts of complaints or “I can’ts”. It was paradise made manifest before my eyes.

P.S. You’ll have to forgive my drawl y’all, but I’m originally from southern Massachusetts — so sometimes my heritage peeks through. Been readin’ a bit of Tom Sawyer recently too, probably had an influence….

Quest Love

Many of us are so pessimistic that we don’t bother pursuing anything — why waste our time? It won’t work out. What optimistic belief systems provide, is the permission to actively want things. You mean if I simply wish for something, there’s a glimmer of hope I might somehow attain it? Hm, perhaps life isn’t so futile after all….

A pessimistic attitude will literally keep us from wanting anything of significance due to a fear of disappointment — why fill myself up with false-hope for something I’ll never receive. Under the guise of protecting ourself, we deny ourself the best of what life has to offer — it’s a tragic way to live. Whereas an optimistic attitude allows us to step on the path and begin a quest.

When you start playing a game for instance, you’ve attained nothing so far, yet there’s a chance you’ll attain your in-game goals — you’re hopeful. It’s this glimmer of hope and the act of getting there, that you find so enjoyable. Actual attainment isn’t providing the enjoyment, it’s the quest prior to attainment that’s entertaining you.

This is why the end of games can be somewhat sad in the sense that it’s all over — you’ve attained the prize but now what? In actuality it never mattered whether you obtained the thing you wanted. What you were delighting in, was the anticipation, not the attainment.

So who cares if optimism-inducing belief systems actually get you the stuff you want, what they really provide is the philosophical framework that allows you to pursue a quest. It smashes the inertia of pessimism that would otherwise have you doing nothing at all, constantly drowning in futility.

Implanted Dreams

What about wishing, manifesting, asking-prayer, goal-setting, etc? Isn’t that free-will?

Where does the inspiration to want come from? Why do you want that particular thing in the first place? The desire is implanted as a prelude for what’s to come. Life is leading you down a specific path by implanting these attractions.

Some dreams are so grand and change-inducing that they can overwhelm the dreamer, causing him to retract and disbelieve the dream. Without trust in life and faith in a grand narrative, he’ll sit stalled and unfulfilled.

The free-will we have is our consent to follow-through with each step along the path. We have no skill but that which is provided for our character-type, our vehicle does all the work, the consciousness mostly watches.

But at critical junctures, the consciousness must choose to move on, accepting each goal. Fear must be rejected and replaced with faith. Immature adherence to any ideals must also be rejected, as life moves on and circumstances broaden.

Your job in life (you the consciousness, the ever-present observer) is as an accepting audience member allowing the scenes to flow uninterrupted from one to the next. Yes, you can invoke manual-control, but try to leave the autopilot on, it makes things much smoother.

I Choose Wood

In the Ghostbusters (1984) movie, the boys are told by Gozer the Gozerian to choose the form of the destructor. Ray accidentally thought of the “Stay Puft Marshmallow man” and there it appeared, a giant angry campfire treat. The boys were then challenged by the manifestation of their thoughts.

I wonder whether our own challenges in life come from the topics we focus on. For instance, if we concentrate on relationship drama, medical drama, legal drama, career drama, financial drama, etc. — will we manifest related obstacles into our life? If I think of nothing but ailments, will I receive the very thing I think about?

If this is true, then we must focus on the form in which we want our challenges to take. And so for this little experiment, I choose woodworking. I believe I can handle woodworking drama. Thus, anytime my focus drifts, I must purposefully shift it back to woodworking until that becomes the source of all obstacles.

In other words, “Is that a woodworking problem? No? Then it’s not my problem.” For the time being, I’m all about tools and fasteners, boards and dowels, hardwoods and softwoods, alignments and measurements — and that’s it. This is the problem I’m willing to have. Oh and Jesus was a carpenter by the way.