It’s a Grand and Noble game

“Let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time. Or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would, naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes.

You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say “Well, that was pretty great.” But now let’s have a surprise. Let’s have a dream which isn’t under control.

Where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s going to be. And you would dig that and come out of that and say “Wow, that was a close shave, wasn’t it?” And then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream.

And finally, you would dream … where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1501096-let-s-suppose-that-you-were-able-every-night-to-dream

So suppose the above quote is true. Let’s suppose this is by choice our life. That what is going on is what we chose to do.

Well then it certainly means that this is all a game!

The real worry comes from not knowing. All anxiety is the recognition of how invariably complicated this all is. Think of even a simple task, say going to the market, and begin to think of everything that will go wrong.

Even excluding subtle variations, you could list a thousand things, and still not being close to done. Thus anxiety.

But the quest to eliminate anxiety totally is also a fools errand!

Peoeple miss that the game is the interplay between anxiety and calm, between past and future, and want and satiation.

Life is not, as we so often see it in the west, a problem to be solved. That sort of thinking is both reductive and dangerous, as is all too often seen in the Utopianists of the world, be they Mao, Stalin, Hitler, or nameless Southern Slave owners.

So given this, what is a person to do?

Well, I’ve not the foggiest idea.

Actually, I have some idea, and that is the most anyone can ask for.

The idea is to play the game sincerely. Not for some outcome, as outcomes aren’t real, they are imaginary devices we invented to help produce real tangible results, but the goals aren’t actual physical things.

No, the idea is to play to play, and accept if there is a boon or bane, that is a nice treat or an unpleasant shock, but it isn’t the point.

Some people call this state flow, where the mind becomes immersed in the moment, and loses track of the grand societal narrative, they become sincerely dedicated to something they want to do.

You see when we play the game with results in mind it taints it. If we talk to an attractive person we’d like to get to know, and we really want to get their number, our sincerity is removed, and we come off as a sales pitch. Only when we go in knowing that we might fail and being ok with that, can we really fall into ourselves and away from the objective.

This all may sound a little crazy, and it is. But I’ve come to find some sort of peace in the knowing, that it’s all a grand game, and the point is to play it.

AFYM: Just show up

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There is a strange ethic that runs through the culture like a common cold, or maybe a better comparison would be Mono. You know that disease that all the teens gave each-other when Stacy would make out with Jack and Jack with John, and John with Jill, ect. It would make you lethargic, and not want to do much of anything.

The ethic I am so haphazardly talking about is, well the idea of making up for yesterday.

“i didn’t eat well yesterday, best eat extra good today.”

“I didn’t workout hard enough yesterday and so I’d better do double today.”

and So on.

But the problem with this mentality is that it is a self replicating problem, and discourages what I think is the ultimate virtue that being Habit.

Habit, and true habit, is kind. Now some will say you must be firm, and kindness is weakness, and trivial kindness can be a sort of weakness.

After all, is it truly kind to simply let yourself become fat? No, it’s not, and it’s a trivial sort of kindness, a short term sort of kindness that is confused with genuine kindness.

Genuine Kindness is to forgive the mistakes of the past and to simply resolve to show up, and do your best today.

Notice I said, forgive, not to forget, it’s important to remove stumbling blocks in the road, and to make the journey as easy as possible.

But the key, the ultimate key is to simply show up, and frankly that’s what most people need anyhow. Many a job or task simply needs a touch of human attention to run properly.

The world you see is quite boring in it’s growth. Even the most exciting events , avalanches, birth, and volcanic eruptions, are actually the final culmination of a million, million little actions taken over a period of time.

So, the key is to simply show up, and peruse that greater kindness. Each day take note of the past, and your failings and then put them aside.

If you ate poorly yesterday, eat well today, but just as well as you intended to yesterday, no more.

If you quit early exercising, exercise as much as you intended the day before and no more.

If you do force yourself to do more, your mind will inevitably, and quite subtly begin to see the task you want it to do as a punishment, and like all punishment will seek to avoid it.

If you further push yourself with negativity, you will catch your mind between two bad options, and well that is a very bad place for a mind to be. Learned helplessness is one hell of a drug.

So, to vastly simplify complex ideas, treat yourself as you’d want a kind father, mother, coach or authority figure to treat you. You can hold yourself to high standards, but when you fail, this kind figure steps in.

He or she says, “now, listen here, you failed to meet X goal, and that’s ok, but I know you can do it. So let’s just try our best today.”

While this is simple, if you’ve been negative to yourself, it can take a long time. That’s alright, keep trying, keep forgiving yourself, and keep showing up.

AFYM:Nihilism is a crutch

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Life is a tragedy.

We are born in an arbitrary, and unjust world.

We are raised into a world, if we are lucky we are taught love, only to come finally to the realization that everything, even your body will be torn from you.

This is the first half of most existentialists’ arguments, and where many a young person stumbles. They read this and tossing aside the difficult, and often cryptic words of a philosopher decry “NOTHING MATTERS!” and so they slink into the realm of the NEET.

Ultimately this is a mistake, because it is a false wisdom predicated not on life experience but the experience told to them by a far away authority figure. (many of which are hopelessly misunderstood, and in the second half of the work that is so casually tossed away find logic to refute Nihilism.)

The truth is Nihilism is most often unearned. “Nothing matters , god is dead, there is no point to anything”, goes the Nihilist, but go to any of those saying these things, and ask, “what have you done to prove or disprove this?”

ideas you see are sticky things, and people forget that at our core we are a very advanced animal that came from a much less advanced iteration. This iteration favors laziness and ease to all things, and Nihilism fits this bill perfectly.

“If Nothing matters? Well then I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to have any responsibilities. It’s not my fault, the world is inherently meaningless so I have no motivation.” is the line of logic, and it is a terribly convenient one too.

It is much more difficult to go out and test these “truths” than it is to simple accept them, and moreover it is a vast over estimation of the cognitive power of the self.

Can anyone really know if nothing matters? Do we know without a shadow of a doubt that the heat death of the universe will happen? OR that in that strange place after it there may be some change, some dissonance that starts everything? Or that there might not be some interaction from dimensions above?

We do not. To reject Nihilism, and for that matter all dogmas is to assert one’s own humility in the face of the unknown.

To paraphrase Socrates ” all I know is that I know nothing.” And there is some beauty in that.

AFYM: Habits

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Some of you don’t take care of yourself. You might argue that you are too busy helping others or maybe you imagine yourself not worthy, but there a few simple, yet difficult things to do every day.

The key is to form the habit. It sounds silly, but more than results you want to create a consistent habit of doing things and build from there .

When I started exercising, I wanted to run full out for 3 hours, but instead I started by just putting on my running shoes and walking 10 minutes around the block. Sounds weak right?

I Just kept showing up. I made it so ridiculously easy that I’d have no excuse not to show up, and I kept showing up.

Eventually, my body was like, well if were already here, and extended the walk time to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, Then it became run time, then it slowly added in body muscle and so on.

This is how i’ve gotten anything done in my life, slowly, but surely.

There will be days you will fail, that’s normal. The key is to simply pretend like it never happened. If you try and “make it up” you foster resentment.

You’ve got to be your own coach, firm but kind, who pushes you not under duress but out of the belief that you can, and will do better. Moreover, the belief that you deserve to be healthy, happy and accomplish your goals.

It’s a cliche, but showing up is the main hurdle, and once you’ve done that and established the habit you can build off that working model and make it better.

Whats the worst that can happen? You can always go back to nothing.

Beyond

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In the beginning there was everything. Complete, consistent, continual, experience in objective form all possibles in all universes.

There stood within this everything, something missing, an infinity outside, the infinity of subjective experience.

So everything began time, seeking itself from it self.

Thus, we began.

Heat became atoms, and we were the heat and the atoms, and the space between them. Atoms become molecules, and we became those droplets of water out in space.

And so forth and so on. We became the bacterium, and consumed ourselves each time we brought more tools of subjective reality gathering, forming DNA, forming more and more complex beings to touch the edges of subjective reality without ever wanting to touch infinity, because we were and still are infinity.

So we became conscious.

The first woman to ever bring forth her eyes by the fireside and looked around, at her brothers and wondered if they thought about the stars as she did. Here the loneliness of man began, as she lived and died maybe without knowing another creature who thought as she did.

And so on and so forth, even so now, we forget. We forget we all came from one place, and will go to one place, because we must forget in order to experience the grand lie.

The Shadow

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The sun rose on the ashen plains of the soul, as it always had, as it had in the days of the first man, as it had in the day of the last man. No moment passed without her witness, and now she trodden beside him, his uneasy gait, plunging and rising, the tide of the testament to impermanence.

He could not conceive of her. She trailed him in the corner of his eye, and the animal part of him knew her, urging him forward, sweat pooling at the palms of the man, beyond his recognition.

The man for his part rubbed his hands on his dirty leathers, and walked into that dying sun, the orange rays burdening his eyes. Death urged him forward, her lips dry and cracked her visage unchanged, but eagerness shone in her eyes.

This would be it. No more sentience, no more work, no more hands to hold, no one else to watch over, no one else to lead back to the fold. The grand experiment, would be finished, once again the universe would be cold, and dead and quiet.

The man turned, and faced her for the first time seeing her, and with a gasp he was no more, but death remained. No bliss came. Somewhere far off in the darkness, another sort of creature’s mind awoke, and death with her cracked lips cursed the silent earth, and began the long quest once more.

The Hate You Love to Give

Anger is useless if it isn’t focused

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Roar as the dawn rises, in the stench of blood and rot. we dwell in cities iced in luxury but the core is soured, old milk on hot pavement, the carton looks fresh and new, but chunky truth hides in the middle.

So many rage. I see it. I feel it. Every time a shooting happens, each time a man’s neck is kneeled upon, each time a polotical scandal breaches the surface.

“Has the world ever been this bad?” Utter lips, their question rhetorical, they know in their heart it’s never been this bad.

Or has it?

I am going to say something controversial, the world is better than ever.

The world was much much worse in the past, but we didn’t know about it. If you wanted to learn about the atrocities that a black man in the south lived through you might have to actually track him down and ask him, or more likely his surviving relatives.

If you wanted to know about political corruption you had to hope the newspaper told you about it.

Now everyone is a whistle-blower, and the hot steaming truth of the horrors of the world once hidden from us is at our pocket level each day, and each night.

Moreover, we are fed this horrible info, because capitalistic systems have figured out that the best way to monetize us is to make us upset.

And so we walk around in a state of low level upsetness, each horror we consume adding to our guild and existential debts.

I ask, what value have we derived from the overflow of knowledge? What do we glean from this consistent impotent rage, checked by flare ups?

Nothing.

And why? Because Citizens of the United States are constantly allowing themselves to be distracted by the next outrage. They eschew dialog in favor of looking good to their peers, and they push agendas lazily from behind a keyboard.

This is not an indictment, Real, Long Lasting change, is difficult, messy, unsatisfactory, and slow.

The kind of change being demanded by various protest movements is one of systemic policy making, and requires organization and an effective organization requires a unified ideal.

Part of the reason many left leaning movements in the united states have fallen apart can be see in the disparate elements of the party.

Not that this is a particularly good thing, but the right wing of the united states was quick to back the president. While seemingly spineless this sort of rallying can be no means dismissed as ineffective.

Most protest movements fall apart simply because they have no unification. Factions within the movement draw lines, and preform social signaling to prove they are the most worthy.

Without a clear structure, clear goals, and a unified long-term strategy, people who want to enact change will either burn out their rage impotent or potentially more dangerously flock to utopian ideals.

One needs only look at the 20th century’s death camps, famines, wars, and police states to know how dangerous utopia can be.

Advice For Young Men: Compassion is not Weakness

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Compassion is not weakness, even though we culturally associate it with weakness.

The reason is that so much of compassion is inauthentic, and comes from a place of compulsion.

Many people are not compassionate because they choose to be compassionate, but instead they feel they must be compassionate.

Who do they this debt to? If you nailed them down and asked them to explain who they were preforming for they’d shrug. The collective default is to be compassionate, but many have never consciously chosen to be compassionate, and calculated what they are giving up .

Now there are some who will ague this is not the true spirit of compassion. That compassion should be selfless and thoughtless, but that in and of itself seems worthless.

Sacrifice is not worth anything if it is compulsive.

True compassion is the strength to think about a situation, and see the benefit in being unkind to others, and there is a benefit if you are willing to pay the cost, noting that cost, and then deciding to be compassionate anyhow.

When you choose to be compassionate not because you feel you must, but because you feel you want to, you are no longer a slave to culture, and instead are kind from a position of strength. Thus kindness stops being compulsory weakness, but instead becomes conscious strength.

Advice to Young Men: Beware The False Idol

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Rick and Morty is a great show. It’s a rather fun ride that pokes fun at our culture. However, there stands a problem in that Rick is hardly to be admired but I see many young men thinking he’s the best character in the show.

While I’ll agree that Rick is the most entertaining part of the show, but I’ll also argue he’s the least healthy member of the cast.

This is a common trope and attraction to the trope. Young men gravitate towards figures like the Joker, Dead-pool, Rick Sanchez , Bill the Butcher, and Walter White, just to name a few. These characters while fun to watch are ultimately failures in the real world, and without the constraints of fantasy are dysfunctional and deeply flawed.

Now, you might say, it’s only a show, I know it’s not real.

I agree, most people can tell reality from fiction, however, the stories we tell ourselves are important.

Humans are thinking animals however, we are also deeply emotional. This is why we can logically understand what is good for us and do something else anyway. We know eating Twinkies is bad, but we emotionally attach comfort to the food. We know dating X person is bad for us, but we are emotionally attached to them.

Thus, when we become emotionally attached , and even admire fictional characters, we risk emulating them, and the messes they are.

The truth is, you can like someone without admiring their behavior. The key is to consciously admit the parts you admire, yet keep within your mind the truth that this character is ultimately a dysfunctional real human.

It sounds silly, but the conscious choice really can have an impact.

Advice for young men: It’s all a Practice

Watchmen by Alan Moore

In Western thought, a single pervasive fallacy, largely perpetuated by a long-running obsession with the Judaeo-Christian end of the world, is that things end.


While the science of the Heat Death of the universe is compelling for instance, there are some rumblings that not even that is the true end of the universe.


This obsession with ends trickles down through our culture, permeating the sociology and priming it for dissatisfaction.


The truth is that nothing really ends. Nothing is finished, simply abandoned. No project reaches completion.


A common Buddhist metaphor is a floor. One does not sweep a floor with the intent that it will never need to be swept again. Instead, he or she decides to sweep the floor because it needs doing in that moment, and for the immediate gain of having a clean floor. The floor will always get dirty again but that is not the concern of the sweeper. The only concern that particularly matters is the doing.


I bring this story up to deliver a simple message that is supremely difficult in today’s world to follow that nothing really ends.


And if nothing really ends, then well, it’s all a practice, it’s all a skill, and there is always the next time until there isn’t.