Down to Business

Okay, let’s get down to business folks. Career-stuff has vexed me my entire life. It’s time to turn that trend around. For too long I’ve thought of myself as a pawn, subject to the whims of Lady Luck. My thought pattern has been: “Well, I’m just waiting for a lucky break, then things will turn around. Any day now… [many years later…] Um, hello? Uh, well I suppose patience is a virtue after all…” Guess how that technique has been working out? Poorly, in every sense. It’s time to pivot to a new direction.

Lately, I’ve been paying attention to some content-creators. Not what they’re saying, but what’s going on underneath the surface. Fundamentally, their content is fleeting and futile in isolation. It’s the audience-member himself that turns content into something personally meaningful. For example, if I have you listen to a song I like, or sit you down to watch a funny video I like, you’ll probably just shrug. Content is a very personal matter and the consumer brings so much to the table.

Many content-creators are shocked that people like their work, and are often surprised at the specific aspects people enjoy, and are amazed at all the meaning ascribed to it. This means that a content-creator’s work exists beyond the creator. He or she is merely the conduit. In fact, you’ll often see a problem develop when a creator truly believes himself the source of his content, he develops a warped ego, gets anxious and paranoid about generating new content, and the content can get weird or dry up.

Okay, back to my personal situation. I started this blog about six and a half years ago and it’s been my creative focus ever since. I believe this means I qualify as a content-creator. And it’s true, I feel like a conduit for words that come from a place beyond myself. Thoughts appear in my head, I type them out, and publish them here. So what’s the problem? Well, the content I publish doesn’t have a significant readership and doesn’t generate any revenue. Oh.

It’s a hobby I’m passionate about, not a career. Whereas I’d prefer a career of some sort at this point in life. I’d like a satisfying answer to the question, “So what do you do?”. I’d like a reason to be busy and feel like a productive member of society. I’d like a source of income to buy all the trinkets and experiences I fancy — for myself and others. I’d like a reason for people to respect and admire me. I’d even like a reason to have a home-office and a desk.

And in a sense, I have a responsibility to distribute the content I’m provided. I shouldn’t feel awkward or self-conscious about it, it’s not really mine anyway, I’m the messenger. There’s an audience out there seeking content and I should accept that I’m a content-conduit. Fundamentally, I’m here to establish a relationship, a threesome if you will, a triumvirate, a trinity in fact — of creator, content, and consumer. So let’s get it done. “Hi my name is Rich, and I’ll be your server this evening!”

Advertisements

An American Beginning

An excerpt from the fictional tales of An Imagined History of America.

It all began one day in England when Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim were attempting to worship the Almighty Creator in their own special way. You see, they liked to sacrifice fowls and roast them on an open spit right in front of the king’s castle. But one day the king himself, on his way for a morning walk, saw this practice and was to have none of it.

“See hear! What on earth are you doing!?”, shouted the king.
“Why we’re giving burnt offerings to the Lord, your majesty,” said Mrs. Pilgrim.
“But why here and why now!?”, inquired the king.
“To worship the true King of men and give thanks for all His blessings of course, your majesty,” replied Mr. Pilgrim.
“Guards, get these fools away from here! Immediately!”, shouted the king.

Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim were ushered away and their offerings were disposed of by the king’s men. The reason they chose the doorstep of the king as their place of worship was actually a slight bit of defiance you see. Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim believed that the true king of man resided in heaven. They thought of the earthly king as a charlatan and fraud — a blasphemer and usurper that put himself in the place of Almighty God.

“You know what Martha, I believe we should leave this unholy land and start a new life elsewhere, in a place free of blasphemy — in a land ruled by God himself, God’s Country,” said Jonathan.
“Why Jonathan, your boldness and passion enflame my heart. Yet we are mere townsfolk, where are we to go, how are we to make-do for ourselves?” replied Martha.
“But Martha, we are children of God and He shall provide. And I’ve heard talk of a new land, they call it America. A veritable Garden of Eden that the Almighty created for those that worship Him with all their heart, all their soul, and all their mind,” replied Jonathan.
“Oh Jonathan! I shall not doubt His ways! Truly we must travel to that land He provideth!”, said Martha excitedly.

And so it was that Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim found themselves determined to travel to God’s own country. Within their small circle of friends, they convinced others to make the journey with them — all simple townsfolk lacking the knowhow to survive in an untamed wilderness. But by their ignorance, their faith was emboldened!
“Surely God will make safe passage and provide the provisions we need!”, they’d say.

Then came the day upon which Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim, and their friends, boarded a ship that would set sail for the Promised Land. It was a long and arduous journey, something the simple townsfolk weren’t used to. The winds and waves rocked their tiny ship and many of the landlubbers amongst them lost their lunch overboard. But what nourishment did they truly need, but the word of God — and so they read their Holy Bible day-in and day-out as they sailed abroad.

Finally, after so long at sea, they landed. But it was cold, so frigid in fact that Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim lost half their party due to a lack of faith in the Lord. Woe to he that doth not trust in Him to provideth. For truly, some were superficial in their belief whereas others came with the seed of God sown deep within. The day of reckoning had come where wheat was separated from chaff.

And after those first frigid days, the party ventured deeper into the new world. God had not forgotten those that had brought faith instead of knowledge. No, for he sent to them a native-guide that miraculously spoke their own very language. A native that had been taken from his home years earlier, trained in the king’s English, and returned. Even an unoccupied native-village awaited their arrival. God provideth!

Once Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim and their friends settled into their new life in God’s country, they set about to give thanks to the Almighty for the blessings received. After finding the largest fowl they could, a turkey, they set it as the centerpiece of a magnificent feast filled with all kinds of local farm-to-table goodies. This great dinner would be known as Thanksgiving in the years to come.

And with the Pilgrim’s example, many other religious zealots also made their way to the New World. Of course, when you get a lot of opinionated people together that share a penchant for disregarding mortal authority, there’s bound to be some underlying friction. And so it was that many separate colonies were created, each with their own ideas of how to run things. This was America’s beginning: a land given to the faithful by God.

Episodic Dreams

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Consumed by Reality.

By the glow of the screen I could see my face reflected on its surface. I sat with the show paused. Was it a message? Am I as schizo as the character I’m watching? To scroll through the thoughts I’ve been having lately, it certainly seems like I’ve given up on reality — the reality I knew for so many decades, now gone.

In favor of what? A belief that boils down to magic? The casting of verbally-invoked spells and manifesting wishes? Really? That’s insane. But why does everything I keep watching and reading keep telling me the same thing? Am I just surrounding myself with nut-jobs? Is the Bible, a book revered by billions throughout history and the world something to be readily dismissed?

If I simply follow my cultural heritage as a Christian, then I’m supposed to believe in supernatural powers — case closed. But it’s more than that, even the best-selling books on “business success” are telling me the same things. And interviews with world-famous people speaking on their own success further corroborate the same extraordinary forces at work. I feel like Alice in Wonderland.

Could it be that the things I believed about reality for all those years are completely delusional? Was I nuts? Am I only starting to see the reality that everyone else is living in? Holy shit! I’ve been a crazy-person lost in my delusion for decades!? Or is it that I’m NOW going crazy, seeing a fantasy world where none exists?

Was my family just playing along? Humoring the weirdo that believed in a physical reality ruled by random chance? Did they even think I was serious? “Of course he’s joking! Haha” — or at least they hoped I was. Or perhaps from their perspective, they just couldn’t understand the ravings of a madman.

Although in my defense, the people around Jesus didn’t “get it” either — not the people that had him crucified nor even his direct disciples. Am I to believe that everyone gets it nowadays? And I’m just the idiot left in the dark? I find that hard to believe, yet everything I’m seeing lately implies it’s common knowledge.

Where do I even start looking for a foundation? So let me get this straight, the planet I’m living on wasn’t created billions of years ago by a seemingly random explosion in the center of the universe, nor did life come-to-be by chance millions of years ago and evolve over time into many varying species, one of which being humanity? And the course of each human’s life isn’t determined by a cocktail of random-chance, DNA, survival-skill, societal influence, and luck? Well shit.

And instead of all that, I’m actually a welcomed and cared-for guest in some sort of fabricated paradise in which my every desire is meant to come true — all I have to do is wish it into existence? What the FUCK!? Was my head THAT buried in the sand? It’s like Little Orphan Annie finding out she’s been adopted by Daddy Warbucks — or Charlie walking into the Chocolate Factory — a dark and gloomy world dawning into one of delight and wonder.

Even THOSE movies were trying to tell me something. To get me to snap out of it — to wake up. You mean this awesomely elaborate world isn’t a complete shithole hellbent on tormenting its inhabitants?? Oh, my bad. And the part about it being a fun-factory of dream-fulfillment is actually true? It’s not hyperbole? Really? Huh, well don’t I feel like a dope.

Earthly Explanation

Okay so you’re alive, what have you gotten yourself into? First of all, welcome to Earth. Unfortunately, you’ll be unable to remember much of this explanation as your capacity to retain input has been greatly reduced for the duration of your visit. This is on purpose of course, or else the sensation of immersion would not feel as complete. Sorry for the late explanation, but that’s also by design (same reasoning). And as you’ve probably noticed, you regularly experience sleep, this also helps you forget and reset for the oncoming day. You have to be handicapped in certain ways so you’ll feel like you’re a part of this world.

If you haven’t caught on already, this world is a fabricated experience — but that’s a good thing. We’ve received many complaints about the world feeling “too real” and we tend to take those as compliments. Basically, none of what you’re experiencing actually exists, it’s more of a computer-simulation of sorts. So all that gloomy/gory stuff simply isn’t there, which is why we don’t bother adjusting the realness-factor. At the end of the day it’s just flickering-pixels. Yes, some participants become frightened beyond their comfort-levels, but for us, it’s immersion-first. We take pride in the creation of a ride so convincing that you actually feel like a genuine embodied being. Trust us, if we did it any other way, the world wouldn’t be believable and you’d be bored.

After all, that’s the entire point of Earth: the simulation of a limited life for your enjoyment. Things are supposed to die here, that’s something new you get to experience. And not only do you experience limitations on your lifespan, but on your knowledge and creative capacity as well. That’s right, you get to be an incapable dummy. Ha! Enjoy it while it lasts! Haha! But seriously, the reason I’ve contacted you today is to check-in and make sure things are to your liking. Again, we do get our share of complaints, but we try to rectify them when we can. Let me start by going over some general concepts and controls in case you haven’t figured them out already.

This is sort of a game/movie hybrid. The path your character is following is found swirling around in your thoughts. It’s a combination of all those meaningful feelings, impulses, and inspirational ideas that are spurring you to do some things while avoiding others. Again, because of the necessity for immersion, the roadmap isn’t obvious — you have to kinda decipher it on the fly. No big deal though, it’s self-correcting for the most part — you’ll get there.

And as far as the controls and the gaming aspect, it’s not really what you’re used to in terms of conventional video-games. It’d be kinda silly if you simply had to move your character along an XYZ-axis with a joystick and press a jump-button now and again. Essentially with any video-game, the actual mechanics boil down to a player aligning with the character by way of the controls. So what you actually control doesn’t matter as much as the ability to sync with the gameplay over time with repeated practice.

In other words, the player learns and adapts to the timing of the game. In a traditional video-game, when an obstacle arrives, the player moves into the appropriate position and presses the jump button. Through practice over time, the player aligns himself with the game until he’s able to navigate with relative ease. In short, the player learns to identify obstacles and react appropriately. And that brings us back to Earth, where you the player, must identify obstacles and react appropriately.

But in Earth, the obstacles aren’t so obvious. Like I mentioned, this game goes beyond the simple XYZ-axis stuff. Spoiler Alert: for the most part, your character is on auto-pilot. And like I also mentioned, the path you’re on is basically pre-programmed. So what do you, the player actually get to do? Haha. Well first, you get to experience the exciting spectacle that-is-life from a front-row seat, that’s pretty cool in and of itself of course. As for game mechanics, it kinda goes like this:

Buttons and switches are passe at this point — you can’t control anything directly or it would kill the sensation of immersion, plus you’re handicapped all the way down to complete-noob status — you wouldn’t know what you’re doing anyway. So everything you-the-player can do is mental — it’s all in the mind. It’s not the things your character does per se, it’s the way in which you react to what he does — that’s what you control. But make no mistake, you do have the power to impede your character’s progress on his path — you can definitely sabotage yourself if that suits your fancy.

To delve a little deeper into why you can’t simply steer your own character, just think of all the external circumstances that would need to coordinate amongst billions of beginner-level players attempting to manually control their characters — that’s insane to even contemplate — so of course things are primarily coordinated on everyone’s behalf. Just imagine all those cars on the roads — of course they’re on a system-controlled auto-pilot.

But anyways, I was discussing obstacles. Obstacles literally get in your way, and you’ll typically pump the brakes when they do. But if you hit those brakes, then you pause on your path. And although it seems logical to stop, that’s actually the wrong approach. The correct procedure is NOT to pump your brakes, you’re supposed to TRUST the path you’re on and follow it to fruition. Then why do you even have the option to brake? Well it comes back to immersion again (of course).

Picture this, you’re playing an old-fashioned video-game in which your car is driving straight down an endless road. You can wiggle the steering-wheel back-and-forth and press a brake-pedal. If not for that wiggle-room and the ability to brake, you wouldn’t feel as though you’re playing a game, it’d be a read-only video instead. In other words, having a little wiggle-room and the ability to brake turns your life into a game that provides the sensation of being in control — which ultimately, you do have control of — unfortunately, that control is in the form of a kill-switch.

So let’s examine a braking example. Imagine that you have an innate desire to go down a particular path. Someone comes along and says “Hey, don’t go that way!” and then you start thinking, “Oh? Okay I won’t! Whew! That was a close one.” In this scenario, you met an obstacle and you pumped the brakes. Oops — you were supposed to continue along your merry way despite the obstacle. That’s the game mechanics you’re trying to sync with: something will happen and your reaction should be to keep on truckin’.

Here’s a less obvious example. Imagine someone says, “Hey let’s go do this activity that you don’t wanna do!” and then you start thinking, “Huh, this feels wrong to me, but my buddy really wants me to do it, maybe I should. You know what, I’ll do it! I’ll force myself if I have to!” In this scenario, you pumped the brakes on your path again. By going against your innate feelings (your roadmap), you halted your progression. Again, you were supposed to jump the hurdle and proceed on your path.

Don’t worry though, you’ll get it. What game worth playing doesn’t take repeated practice to get right? And now that you know a bit more about what’s going on here, perhaps things will go smoother for ya. Always keep in mind that this game was designed with your amusement in mind, not to scare or punish or any nonsense like that. Hey and when you’re done, don’t forget to rate and leave a review. We’re really proud of what we’ve put together here and your kind words go a long way.

One Two Three

I mean, how else can you explain my life in a positive way? I’m a loser because I love the feeling of vulnerability, of being beaten to near defeat… then all of a sudden… WHAT?! Ladies and gentlemen! This is unbelievable! He’s up! This can’t be happening!! When all hope was lost, he’s on his feet! And it’s a BODY-SLAM!!! ONE! TWO! THREE!! Ding! Ding! Ding! It’s all over!!! He’s done it!

I loved professional wrestling as a kid. The days when Hulk Hogan was out cold, his hand limp, then… then on the third attempt when the ref tested the champs hand by raising it up — it stayed in the air. It vibrated with the power and intensity of a thousand Hulkamanics surging through his twenty-four-inch pythons. He came to life and BOOM! Leg-dropped his opponent into a deep sleep — retaining the World Wrestling Federation championship belt.

That’s the premise of the Rocky movies for instance — guy gets beaten to a pulp, eventually recovers and triumphs. That’s most fighting movies in fact — even The Karate Kid. It’s such a common narrative in life. Perhaps that’s my story too. Guy is a complete loser, comes from a loser family, lives a loser life, then when you finally accept his loser-status… BOOM!!! He’s suddenly a success-story. He’s admired, his opinion matters, he’s no longer ignored, people from all over the world are interested in his thoughts.

I just can’t believe I’m a loser. I don’t see it. I’ll sit here writing my thoughts down until through sheer force-of-will everyone accepts me as a world-class thinker. Luckily I have no choice in the matter, my persistence doesn’t allow me to deviate from this belief. I’ve tried to stop writing this blog for instance, I’ve been so far unsuccessful in those attempts. Despite the fact that people show little-to-no-interest in what I have to say — I don’t care, I just keep going. One day that switch will flip.

Donning Red

An excerpt from the fictional series Wokest Tales of Truth.

We all know Little Red Riding Hood as an old-timey European folk tale, but what if it took place in modern-day America? Now, sit back and enjoy our presentation of Little Red Riding Hood as told from a hyper-Americanized perspective. For the comfort of others, please no smoking.

Red hon, I just got off the phone with your grandma. She’s stuck in bed with gout because she refuses to go to the doctor. Can you deliver some food to her house?

Why doesn’t she just go to the doctor?

Well, honey, she refuses to participate in socialized medicine. She believes the last president was a secret Muslim hell-bent on destroying America. She rejects anything his administration implemented. She thinks the previous president hated her freedoms — and she’ll do anything to stand up for the America she so dearly loves.

Is that why she’s on Facebook complaining everyday?

Now, Red, can you please just deliver this basket of canned goods to your grandma?

Okay mom.

As she left the house, Red put on her red-white-and-blue hoodie. It was her favorite. Her dad gave it to her right before his deployment. He was a Navy Seal that served his country proudly.

Being a Millennial, Red always sought the easy path through life, so today she decided to take the shortcut through the woods despite what her mom told her about going the longer more secure route.

As Red walked through the woods, a wolf spotted her coming.

Hello dear, don’t you look every bit of delectable today?

Red just kept walking, she couldn’t hear him anyway because she had her wireless Apple AirPods in her ears while listening to a Spotify playlist.

Being of the wiser baby-boomer generation, the wolf knew he could easily take advantage of this clueless child that walked right by him. He guessed her destination because there was only one house at the end of the road and he jogged as fast as he could.

Upon arriving at the house, out of shape and out of breath, the wolf heard the sounds of FOX NEWS blaring through the windows. He banged on the door yelling “Open up! The liberals are coming to take your guns!”

Granny yelled back, “I never lock my front door! Come in and hide my guns!”

The wolf entered and gathered up all of Granny’s guns and threw them out the window, leaving the poor woman defenseless. Granny was too busy mailing out checks to Republican politicians and coal-mining CEOs to notice. She knew they’d use the money to create jobs and would manage her Social Security funds better than anyone.

The wolf sat by the front door waiting for Red while Granny remained distracted in the kitchen, yelling about liberals.

When Red finally arrived, she popped out her AirPods and knocked on the door. The wolf quickly answered and told her to come in. He had a college loan application ready and waiting, all Red had to do was sign it and she’d be on the hook for $50,000. When she wouldn’t sign, the wolf got angry and approached Red menacingly.

All she could think about was what her dad told her before he left, “the only thing that can stop rampaging evil is a good-guy with a gun.” After the initial pop, Red’s ringing ears heard nothing as she emptied a magazine of Black Talon hollow-points into the savage beast. When the body hit the floor she re-holstered her concealed-carry firearm.

Granny! It’s me, Red! Are you okay!?

As Granny emerged from the kitchen carrying an apple pie, she and Red turned to the American flag that flew majestically in the front-yard. With right hands over hearts, they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. America had become great again.

Evaluation of Effort

The 5-year anniversary of this blog’s inception is rapidly approaching — a blog in which I dedicated countless hours and published over 1,000 posts. With all that investment, this project must be a successful endeavor, right? Well if external metrics are used to judge success, then no, it’s a failure. The subscriber rate is extremely low, audience engagement barely exists, and there is no income. So… I suppose I should just close up shop….

Ha! Luckily, external success was not the original goal of this blog, it was simply a place to publicly publish my thoughts. Why publicly? I’m not sure really, although I think it encourages me to refine my writing when I believe someone else might read it. And perhaps it was a very weak attempt at connecting with others. Weak, because I don’t even try to engage, it doesn’t suit me. But a year ago I purchased this blog’s current domain-name and set out to magically achieve external success. It hasn’t worked so far, not even a little.

They say, do what you love and the money will follow, but I’m not sure if that’s a true statement or I’m just impatient. To be honest though, I don’t want my blog to be a source of income. Oops, I suppose I’ve been counteracting success all along — a classic mistake. And to be honest again, I don’t want a lot of eyeballs judging me, I’d appreciate just a quick glance at the artistry and a quiet exit. So yes, it appears that my blog is everything I wished for, a barely noticed shop down a quiet street that only a few people ever accidentally stumble into.

Hm, perhaps the magic did work after-all. And I should mention that internally, this blog has been a success. I’ve enjoyed the process of writing and publishing succinct essays, it’s provided a feeling of creative accomplishment, and really helped in allowing me to monitor my thoughts and moods. And because many of these thoughts come from a well-of-inspiration beyond myself, I really enjoy reading them as an audience member (although I seem to be the only one — ha!).

See the difference though? This post was written as a stream-of-consciousness by regular uninspired me. But in writing it down, I could clearly see the conflict of interest. I suppose if I’m looking for success, my blog is off-limits as a means of achievement. It must remain pristine like a mountain stream, a place that few travelers ever find. Hm, I like that. Okay, so magic still might be real, success still might come, but this blog is not the vehicle I’ll be driving there — and I will try not to judge this blog by external means ever again. It’s a hidden little gem where the secrets of the universe are succinctly written for the weary wanderer that enters by some serendipitous means.