Reference Librarian

When I was a software developer, I’d often get stumped by programming problems. I would typically go to programming forums in order to find detailed information about how to implement a particular algorithm or feature. I’d search through the message-boards until finding a question relevant to my own, then I’d read through the solutions shared by other programmers. And chances were, if I had a question, someone else did too. And if I couldn’t find a relevant question, I knew I was barking up the wrong tree. In all those years I never had to post my own question.

It was the forums in which I found implementation details, but that’s not where the overall architecture of the program came from. For whatever reason, I just knew how to layout the program’s structure. And when I didn’t know, I took a break until the answer came to me, sometimes while showering or doing something else unrelated to programming. There was some source, some reference librarian, that my mind seemed to contact when I had a complicated question. During this time-period I had many “Aha moments”.

When I quit professional programming a number of years ago, I swapped programming problems for philosophical ones. The funny thing is, that this blog became my forum of sorts. I’d have a question and then I’d post a solution. I didn’t know the answer beforehand, I just seemed to transcribe from a source beyond myself. Even today I’ll often look back at old posts of mine to check something. In other words, I’ve created an archive of philosophical solutions suited just for me. And similarly, during this time-period I’ve experienced a lot of “Aha moments” in which spiritually complicated architecture came to light.

With my wondering, I signal that a question needs answering, then a reference librarian of sorts does a quick bit of research and gets back to me with a possible solution. But who is this reference librarian? Why do I seem to conjure satisfactory answers to my questions? And I also notice that other people’s solutions are often similar to my own, implying a common source. To me at least, this phenomenon is consistent with the idea that individuals are mere shards of a fractured creator. There really does seem to be a “collective unconscious” underlying humanity from which we all draw our inspiration.

In interviews, creative people typically balk at the question, “So where do you get your ideas?” Nobody really knows, do they. Essentially, notions just pop into our head. And they’re not random either, they’re tailored to our roles. Previously I received programming insights, now it’s philosophical/spiritual ones. An artist is imbued with the vision it’ll take to craft his masterpiece. A novelist receives an unfolding story within her mind. A craftsman feels his way to a finished product. It just comes to us, the blueprint of our success — all we have to do is listen.

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Wishes – Summer 2017

So as to fully program my mind with only the most delightful daydreams, I’ll be detailing my current crop of wishes (in no particular order):

I wish to fill my evenings with meaningful activity. Instead of just recuperating from the day, I wish to have a task that enlivens and fulfills, leaving me satisfied and ready for sleep.

I wish to sleep through the night and wake-up well-rested. Bed should be a sanctuary I embrace yet happily depart when the new day dawns.

I wish for my work to find its appreciative audience. That which I craft should be a delight to others who subtly display their thanks.

I wish for a healthy, well-functioning digestive process from end to end. Well-prepared food is a delight, and its enjoyment is supported by the smooth action of consumption, absorption, and elimination.

I wish to remain calm, composed, and collected at all times. Feeling startled is a thing of the past, my reactions should be measured and reassuring to others.

I wish to have replenishing resources for spending adventures. From tech-gadgets to trips, cars and clothes, food and funding (creators), gifts and giving, houses and helping — copious cash is there as fuel for the creative process.

I wish my days to contain many moments of levity with my family. I wish to be building bonds of companionship as we lightheartedly ride this spaceship, Earth.

I wish to serve as teacher, a trainer of sorts. Those that cross my path should gain an understanding previously unrealized.

First Steps

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Way of the Wizard: Modern Magic

But Rich, where do I find introductory material on magic? It doesn’t seem readily available.

You’re right, just searching for “magic” will get you nowhere. But if you look past the surface, you’ll see there’s tons of material about magic. For instance, a lot of popular “success” books are straight-up magic. They don’t claim to be such, yet they’re essentially telling you to wish your way to prosperity and fulfillment. They’ll often talk about affirmations and repeatedly writing your wishes down. Or they’ll mention visualization: vividly imagining the outcomes you desire. And of course the “Law of Attraction” a.k.a The Secret is pure sorcery — it’s all about manifesting your materialistic wants.

For many years I was skeptical of such claims, and dismissed followers as fools and proponents as snake-oil salesmen. But eventually I realized that my pessimism was not proof. These people wholeheartedly believed in magic and I was needlessly dismissive of their lifestyle. And here’s the thing, they were living an enjoyable life filled with hopefulness and cheer whereas I was sitting in squalor endlessly complaining about how horrible the world was. Who’s the fool?

So what does one do upon learning the error of his ways? That’s right, take two giant steps in the opposite direction. I’m in full-on magic-mode now. And I’ve read the common success books, I’ve seen The Secret, I’ve watched adherents relate their stories on YouTube — I’d consider myself versed in the techniques of the trade. Therefore, I’ve completed the first three steps: I believe magic exists, I believe it’s something I can practice, and I’ve gone through the introductory material. Currently I’m in the solo-project stage, attempting to self-solve a particular problem.

Using what I’ve learned, I must make something manifest. The biggest hurdle to practicing magic is remembering to practice. My attention is so often focused on the mundane: all the unpleasantries I encounter, the foul odors, the bad attitudes — I’m so easily distracted by the worst life has to offer. Yet I’ve been diligent enough to use these negativities in my favor, using them as triggers, reminders to think magically — believing I must have inadvertently summoned the bitter into being. We must be careful what we wish, because we might just get it — and so I’m careful to keep only what delights in mind.

Even if magic wasn’t real, I’ve become a much happier person simply by weeding out the pessimism. That vacancy has been conscientiously filled with pleasant fantasies instead. And it is magic’s job to bring these particular fantasies into being. In one sense, I’ve really no more to do than wish and wait. But of course, keeping my garden free of dream-choking weeds is a chore in itself. Thankfully it’s a chore that becomes more automatic with practice. So dear reader, there is your answer, the introductory material is where it’s always been: right in your face. Pick it up.

Wanting Lack

Dear Rich, if life is a virtual experience, why wouldn’t I simply wish everything I wanted into the world?

Let’s think about the game of Minecraft for a minute. If I’m in survival mode (with cheats enabled), I could use a slash-command to give myself 1000 blocks of iron and create all the iron tools I ever wanted — and while I’m at it, I might as well give myself 1000 blocks of wood planks. And you know what, instead of digging, I might as well use the fill command to excavate a huge cave for my new dwelling. Ooh, and I should give myself 1000 cakes too.

So in this scenario, I can type in a few commands and have everything at my finger tips. I probably wouldn’t bother to mine for resources or explore caves. This abundance might just rob me of a good time. Because, although we don’t think of it like this, we’re often entertained by limitations. Limits are what we go against whenever we challenge ourselves. Without finish-lines or structure, there’s no race to run, no feat to beat.

While it’s true that a virtual realm requires no true equilibrium, the players themselves require it. In other words, within a computer generated world, there is no real physical balance that must be maintained, yet participants must be provided fulfilling activities that evoke engagement. If everything is freely and easily obtained, activities might dissolve into pointlessness — and so, challenges and limitations are regularly introduced to stave-off boredom.

Therefore, it makes sense that a wizard-like being would purposely limit his power, preventing himself from magically fulfilling wishes. But, that’s only one side of the coin. In some scenarios, it does make sense to invoke near-limitless power. Let’s think about Minecraft again. If I’m in creative mode, where resources are unlimited, engagement through creativity can certainly serve as ample entertainment. The caveat being, that I must rely on my creativity to carry me through.

So dear reader, you should only wish into existence what you can handle. Lack is oftentimes captivating when we lack creativity.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This particular Patreon experiment is over. The results: no backers after 2 months.

And now a brief word from our sponsor. Take a look at this. It’s a Patreon page. Everything you value, you invest in — whether it’s time or money or both. The ideas written about within this website are no different. And to prove to yourself the importance of these ideas, you may need to pay something for them. Through Patreon, I am providing an opportunity to do so.

There are other benefits involved as well (But wait, there’s more!). For those with the means to do so, what a pleasant thing it is to give, to contribute to the well-being of others. And of course there’s the idea of directly supporting creators and their work without the inefficiencies of advertising or merchandise — are we not due for a change of pace in the digital economy?

This website has been in existence for nearly five years now, yet it generates no income. So it serves as an interesting experiment: will such dedication ever translate into financial success? No not everything has to be about money, but even monks are supported through donations. We have an economic system that expects dollars to be traded amongst players.

Whether it’s to support my work, contributing to my livelihood, or for the generic support of alternative income mechanisms, please consider becoming a patron if it is within your power to do so. Now back to our show….

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Lightly Vexed

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Daily Beacon.

Dear Rich, I’m slightly annoyed at life right now because I’m not getting what I want.

Dear Reader, that’s great! It means you’ve been enticed. You’re like a little fishy nibbling after a sparkling lure — life is attempting to capture your attention. But this is a condition to be celebrated, not lamented.

Imagine never wanting anything, what a dull life that’d be. You’d just kinda sit there, not doing much at all. You know those times when you’re bored and can’t think of anything to do? It’d be like that, but you’d be perpetually unable think of something to do because you never want anything.

Or think of it this way, imagine you receive everything you want immediately. You’d just keep on moving to the next want. Want after want after want after want. Seems pretty hectic doesn’t it? Fulfilling a want has never ultimately satisfied you, has it? No, after every achievement the process begins anew.

So life has done something nice and you don’t even appreciate it. Life provides you with something interesting to think about in the form of a pursuit. Then life is thoughtful enough to set a relaxed pace for attainment. What’s your rush? If efficiency was life’s goal, we’d simply expire the day we’re born.

So relax, take a deep breath, and settle in for the long haul. Realize that anticipation is a pleasant feeling — if done right, it’s the most enjoyable part of the pursuit — it’s the time when you’re most excited and optimistic. So for enjoyment’s sake, just believe with certainty you’ll get what you want — and let those happy feelings flow.

Perfect Practice

Perfection is only found in a static image. If there is movement, there is erosion and malfunction. Thus the nature of existence is imperfection — defects define life, so expect discordance. Yet orchestras can harmonize, order can be brought to the cacophony.

And although imperfectly implemented, the melody is often good enough. But oh so much practice to maintain the music as performers strive to achieve a state resembling perfection. The outside world rages but they focus on the fingering, the notes, the sounds, the silences.

What is your instrument? Do you practice? With whom do you play? Do you have a piece that you’re attempting to perfect? Do you drown out your surroundings as you focus on your part? Without a part to play, are you merely adding to the discordance within the world?

Some people simply smack spoons or even sing — the specific instrumentation does not matter. Birth is your invitation to life — welcome. But there is one requirement to remaining untroubled: play your instrument. Imagine perfection then practice.