Piece of Cake

I’ve been playing Minecraft off-and-on for over a year-and-a-half now. Yet only very recently was I able to complete a solo survival challenge, a cake-making challenge I set for myself. I entered a new world at the normal difficulty level on survival mode — and my goal was to make a cake without dying. A cake requires wheat, sugar, eggs, milk, and iron to make the milk buckets.

The toughest part was the fear. I had to stay alive while collecting all the ingredients. Yet funny enough, by the end of the challenge I didn’t even have a single run-in with a dangerous mob. I never saw a creeper, skeleton, Enderman, or witch. I heard a few zombies banging on my door at night but they were burnt by sunup. I was so cautious in fact, that I mined enough iron to create a full set of armor to ensure I’d survive any attacks. But I never needed the protection nor my iron sword.

I noticed too, the minuscule amount of space this world consumed compared to my creative worlds — it was tiny because I barely ventured beyond my hollowed-out cave in the side of a mountain. If I was a lazy programmer-of-life, the most efficient thing I could do, would be to scare my player into remaining inside all the time. Just bang on his door a few times and watch him scurry into a corner to sit with his anxiousness all day, mind racing, thinking about imagined dangers lurking everywhere.

Why bother designing a giant interactive world when I can simply keep the player excited and stationary through fright. But relying solely on scare-tactics is a cheap ploy for inducing excitement. But Minecraft isn’t that cheap thankfully, it actually does provide a giant interactive world for players to explore — as long as they don’t let fear get the best of them. I bet the real world is similar in that regard, although I wouldn’t know, I spend most of my time in a little cave.

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Random Belief

I’m surrounded by people wracked with anxiety. For instance, panic-attack is a common term I hear. And in my own dealings with life, I was always worried about everything. I could tell you dozens of ways in which every circumstance was dangerous or why every plan wouldn’t work. But I stopped worrying and stopped my incessant pessimism. How? I stopped believing in randomness.

I was taught early on by pop-culture that existence was a random occurrence. Not only were my origins random, but my time spent on Earth was just as random. What I do here and when I leave boil down to luck. Well that sucks. Diseases, accidents, murderous rampages, catastrophic weather patterns, astroids, exploding suns, bacteria — even my income, who I marry, whether my kids are jerks — everything was essentially random. I was a powerless pawn in a natural world that didn’t care one whit about me or my path.

I would get sad just thinking about it — my mind filling with existential angst. And I couldn’t not think about it, it was the very foundation of reality. Yet I noticed there were people that weren’t constantly frightened — and they were having a great time. But I couldn’t be like those blissfully ignorant fools, I knew too well the endless dangers of this world — oh woe is me, and my superior knowledge and intellect.

I was completely confident in how the world worked, fully aware that calamity could strike at any moment. But then something happened. I kept getting older. I was so sure that I wouldn’t survive past my early twenties. I was so sure that I’d never meet a significant-other. I was so sure that bad things would constantly happen — except they didn’t. I’m still here. Huh!? And let me tell ya folks, I’ve done jack-shit in terms of keeping myself afloat, I’ve just drifted through life pretty effortlessly.

The hardships I’ve endured existed solely within my own imagination. It turned out that the mysterious entity that was seemingly out to get me, was me. I was casting the shadows hiding in every closet, under every bed. So after I noticed how old I was and how easy life had been over the years, I finally stopped scaring myself. There was just nothing left to base my anxiety on. Randomness wasn’t real — but my negative attitude was all too real.

Randomness is a damaging belief. It’s crippling to believe that lightning could strike us at any moment. Therefore, traveling through life in an enjoyable manner requires we abandon the idea of randomness and seek to see an underlying programming that’s directing and balancing the action. We should think of life as a fulfillment generator — whatever we wish, we’ll soon see. And for our part, we must keep our thoughts filled with the things that delight and excite, eschewing negativity whenever it surfaces.

Power Story

What is your power story? You, described in a way that evokes a feeling of powerfulness. You, while free of fear or frustration, brave, unflinching, an unstoppable force.

Alone atop a self-made world, an infinite being sat. For the fun of it, he split himself into near-infinite shards, each one reflecting a differing perspective within the world he created.

I am one such perspective. The broken piece which is my character reflects my point of view. Jagged edges and pitted surface serve to distort the image I perceive.

But I’ve been polishing the marred mirror which is me. And the more I shine, the brighter I become. Not only can I see the light which lies before me, but its underlying origin, the source from which I came.

My power therefore stems from the ever increasing duration and frequency of this realization – that I am the creator playing amongst the various sections of myself. There really is no physical me, only the illusion of such.

And being that creator, I can stand back and appreciate my handiwork. What a marvelous world I’ve made – a playground for the pieces of me. With this understanding I can only laugh at the silly things I’ve made.

Nothing is but what I willed it to be. Yet I purposely tricked myself by hiding roots beneath a mirage. And by simply engaging with life, I can readily forget myself and perform as the character I resemble.

But when I still my mind, looking within – there I am, the creator within. I am not a mere pawn to be played, but the programmer himself, so skilled I can only realize this when I pause to perceive it.

From this foundation, life is a funhouse – a gift given to me by me for my own amusement. I am both appreciative and proud. There is no weakness ‘cept that which I playfully portray. I am the definer of strength itself.

This is my story of power, my narrative to silence fear and frailty. Should I ever feel fearful or frail, I need only remember my origin as builder of worlds – a blend of art and artist, author and audience. Swimming amidst shallows I need only stand.

Death Note

Because of its anxiety reducing properties, I started believing in the concept of willful-death — that is, we die when we want to. To further cement this belief, I was just taking inventory of the people I knew personally that died. I was determining how well their lives and deaths fit into this theory.

In my belief, people don’t necessarily say “I wish to die now”, but their predominant thoughts are of a time-to-go variety. A few people I knew committed suicide — they literally rage-quit the game. And the circumstances surrounding their lives were tragic and not fun. It’s as if they came in on crazy-hard mode and expectedly had to dump out early.

Most of the people I knew personally just got old and died when they were done. A few might have went a little earlier than expected, but not really when I think about it — they lived full lives with full story arcs. I even asked my seventy-year-old mother about people she knew that died — and they fit well within this theory.

How does this theory explain people I don’t know personally? Well, I can’t prove they existed. It’s possible that some people are just part of the scenery, like NPCs and such (non-player characters). And I don’t know what difficultly-level they pre-selected or what their interests are. Perhaps some people are really into challenging themselves.

But Rich, aren’t you crazy for making up outlandish theories about death? Well, like many high-anxiety folks, death played too prominently in my thoughts and I needed a way to get rid of the toxicity. This solves for that. I have zero death related thoughts nowadays. I present this information as a reminder to myself as to why, and as a means to maintain it.

Spectrum of Engagement

I think people are at different levels of engagement with life.

For instance, there’s those that are completely lost to life, fully immersed while believing this is all there is. What they see is what they get. They’re taking the game super seriously and typically have behaviors reflecting it. For instance, they might have high-anxiety or frustration or sadness and they’re likely to have a selfish/self-centered attitude, too tuned for self-preservation.

Then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s those that don’t take life seriously at all. They’re probably always talking about some spiritual mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t make sense to anyone but themselves. They’re super-easy going, so much so that they’re unreliable since they’re barely there.

Then there’s people in the middle who have some balance in their perspective. To effectively play a game, any game, players need a certain perspective — not too close and not too far. To be too serious, is to suck out the fun and replace it with a fear of losing. And to be too aloof, is to have no structure and thus no game — games require structure and active participation.

People in the middle aren’t lost, they use their moderate perspective to maintain a healthy and wholesome view of life and the game they’re playing. They have a sense of humor that allows them to laugh at life and at themselves.

For reference, I started out in the super-serious camp and am trying to get into the middle camp by introducing myself to topics popular among the aloof bunch. There’s a balance to achieve and maintain. I have a friend that pretty much defaulted to the middle path, and I’ve used her as a model to aid in altering my perspective.

She leans towards taking life too seriously at times whereas nowadays I often lean towards not taking it seriously at all — but I think it fluctuates. For instance, I was on the toilet last night, and something I had eaten earlier didn’t agree with me. Let’s just say I was uncomfortable. But then I said “AHA! I caught you life! You’re trying to engage my senses, making me think I’m a biological being on the bowl!”

Well that put an end to my discomfort and I went along my merry way. Life is always trying to engage my senses and I really appreciate the entertainment value. But, I have to watch out so that I don’t allow the cheap-thrills to serve as a means of excitement lest more come wandering in. Only high-quality entertainment for me thanks! Like laughing with companions, celebrating life’s bounty — just the lighthearted stuff.

Changing Perspective

There are many different perspectives from which we can interpret our existence. This has always been the case, as we can witness the differing interpretations throughout the historic narrative. We can also notice a lack of consistency throughout the various cultures that populate the planet at the same time. In other words, it’s a fallacy to assume that there’s a concrete indisputable interpretation of reality. It’s also a mistake to assume that humanity is progressing towards a clearer more accurate viewpoint of reality — people simply replace one hazy dream with another.

Additionally, the perspective we adopt significantly affects our personal satisfaction with life. For instance, I spent many decades cultivating the life-is-physical/random/evolved viewpoint, yet I found it unsatisfying. Not too long ago I dumped it in favor of a simulation-based viewpoint. And I must say, that change has done wonders for my happiness. For me, the circumstances of life are no longer random and chance-based, they’re planned in a benevolent way for my amusement. I have no fear on a path made just for me — I’m nurtured and protected along the way.

My anxiety went from high to low. I no longer experience life at high-intensity, it’s just a tour through the funhouse. I still get startled at times, but I know it’s all in good fun. Just imagine the entirety of people with wildly varying beliefs surviving all the same — how we define the basis of reality hasn’t mattered. Yet, it’s in our best interest to cultivate a viewpoint that elicits the most happiness. If we’re going to live out a life no matter what, we might as will be happy while doing so. And from experience, I can say that crafting a pleasant foundation for our perspective makes all the difference.

However, it’s not necessarily easy to flip from one viewpoint to another, it takes practice. For instance, I repeat these sentiments again and again, drilling them until they become my default. And, I practiced meditation for quite awhile until I had the awareness to catch and deflect all the undesirable thoughts streaming through my mind. We have to discover and refine a viewpoint, then keep our eyes pointed in that direction. An epiphany isn’t worth much without the follow-up — If we stare at obstacles, we’ll run right into them — Seek a satisfying perspective, then strive to maintain focus.

Virtuality Update

It’s been about 45 days since I started my virtuality experiment. It does feel a bit strange at times to consider that the world is an artificial construct. Existence isn’t a naturally occurring phenomenon? There’s an underlying narrative and artificiality that maintains it? The more I look, the more I see it too. As part of the experiment, I’m bathed in thoughts of virtuality so it’s self-reinforcing.

Ideally I suppose I want to set my life in the right direction, then forget about all this, then just carelessly play on the playground. By right direction, I mean a positive path filled with merriment. I’m kinda done with the whole pessimist lifestyle of gloom and doom — it just doesn’t match up with what I see anymore — but those default thoughts still linger.

Life hasn’t tried too hard to push me off this path either. But funny enough, ha, I might be going on a trip very soon. It’s a sudden change of plans. Or rather, I had no plans and now I unexpectedly do have plans. Perhaps life is back to its old tricks of attempting to captivate my attention? It does seem suspicious….

But even funnier, ha, is that life is directing me to go to my childhood happy-place. I was adamant about not going back there because I wasn’t pleased when I last left, nor was I interested in such a long journey — yet now I’m headed back there. My friend said, maybe life just wants me to love that place again — I thought that seemed like a reasonable explanation.