Gaming The System

It’s a little embarrassing to talk about.  Well, maybe embarrassing isn’t the word. It’s one of those things that is both social accepted and socially awkward. Well, let me just get it out there. I play pokemon go. Well I ‘played’ pokemon go. I played since the day the app launched through about 3 weeks ago. It was an add on to my dog walk. I walk the dogs every day, and while I’m out on the walk I search for imaginary creatures and gather resources from all the pokestops… The game has been out for almost 2 years and I’ve played with a few gaps, a day or two here and there while traveling, for the entire period.

I know all the local pokestops and all the spots around my neighborhood where pokemon will appear. I’ve hatched many 10 kilometer eggs and I have many legendary creatures. But it’s all in my head, well and my phone… But is it?

So, about 3 weeks ago, my app glitched and my login failed. I haven’t logged into the app in over 6 months. It just stored my login. So I didn’t remember the password. So I couldn’t just log back in and start going again. Mind you, I have the password, it was just a pain to lookup. The effort involved in looking it up gave me pause.

I do really enjoy the game, but I’ve always had privacy concerns. There is a gaming company that now knows my patterns of walking over the last 2 years. I’m sure they can reach some conclusion about my use of the game and what it implies that would feel rather creepy. Recent Facebook revelations are already enough to handle. We all assumed they could be doing creepy things with our data, but the truth is spookier than the assumption. But I digress. That’s a topic for another article.

The interesting part for me, is what happened after I stopped playing. As a creature of habit, I still walk the dogs every day, I walk them on the same loop. I can go on auto-pilot. That’s my loop.

Interestingly, my 40 minute walk now takes 30 minutes without pokemon go. But that’s not the main story here.

I can still see the pokestops. I have played the game enough that I know where all the gyms and pokestops are. Specifically, there is a cemetery near my house and it has pokestops on every corner and a few gyms. They are virtual objects, they don’t exist in the real world. But now they do. I can see them. I know when I get to them and I can even visualize them as I walk by. My mind, through enough repetition, made them real.

Through the connection between geography and movement, the real world and virtual world have been bridged. I now see pokestops when I walk around.

So the question in my mind is, are they real? Did the game make them real? Or did I?

What else have I repeated enough in my mind to construct a reality? What do I believe because I gave it space in my head? What does this mean for my world view?

We all live on a series of constructed visions in our head. Beliefs that we reinforced by repetition. The same thought, the same words, swirling around in our head until they go from concept to concrete. We make our thoughts real.

Sometimes these manifested concepts help us, lift us up. Sometimes these thoughts break us down and undermine us.

The first step is awareness. Become aware that you make your reality and that your brain is a powerful tool for how you interpret the world. It is in fact the only tool for how you interpret the world. Everything you see in the real world is just a construct in your head. A translation of your senses into a mental experience.

With that in mind, you need to learn to game the system. You need to start with beliefs that will lift you up and repeat them. You need to repeat the words that will make you soar. You are mighty. You are beautiful. You are a blessing to the world.

It’s called ‘gaming the system’, where you identify a trick to success and exploit it. It’s common in a game to have a certain behavior that gives you an advantage. Sure, well thought out games tend to have more complicated exploits, but there are behaviors that more frequently result in success. Identifying the techniques that will help you succeed is ‘gaming the system’.

identify what you need to believe, to succeed, and make it your truth.

Namaste,

Kevin

You’re not as ____ as you think!

So what did you think of?

You’re not as good as you think?

You’re not as bad as you think?

What other words popped up? Ugly? Short? Stupid? Smart? Loved? Hated?

It’s an interesting little test. I come up with my own words each time. Initially it feels like an exercise in what other people think of you… But upon further reflection, it’s just you and your thoughts going at that little blank space. So it’s really about what you think other people think about you. Or more to the point what you subconsciously struggle with.

For me, I worry that I’m not as smart as I think. Or sometimes I worry that I’m not as good a person as I think I am. An interesting aspect of this exercise is that your fill in the blank work always has a grain of truth and is usually dead wrong.

Meaning that, there is an aspect of soul reflection that comes out of this that should not be let go. You should process how your chosen adjective really overlays on your reality and world view.

Additionally, it is a perfect moment to be aware of  your own self judgement. And, for the most part, you can tell that voice to roll. Get away with your negative thoughts. I am freak-in awesome and you need to deal with it…

Yes, the voice in my head and I do have arguments occasionally. Luckily I very rarely show that to the outside world. That would be weird… Unless I write about it… Which could also come off as weird. Weird.

What was I saying?

Ah, yes. Self work. There is a value to self work. It both feeds into, and is fed by, self awareness. The first step to removing a thorn in your foot, is being aware a thorn is there. Nerves in your foot send pain signals to your brain that tells you something is wrong. You can ignore them, you can pretend they are not there. You can walk along barefoot and get more and more splinters, till the bottom of your foot is covered with little slivers of wood…

Our society encourages this when it comes to self work. We are encouraged to ignore the small voices in our soul that point out splinters. We are lead to believe statements like “Self work and self awareness are a product of conceit and being too self involved.” And like all statements that sound reasonable, there is a grain of truth. But the truth needs to lead to balance, not denial. You can’t, and shouldn’t, focus 100 percent on self.  Nor should you focus 100 percent of other. Life requires balance.

Our society appear to encourage imbalance. But that is merely a product of the focus on dramatic. News reports don’t tend to focus on the average, they seek out the sensational. Nobody would be drawn to the news if the reports had headlines like, “Another man came home from work today and spent time with his children”. “In Ohio today 14 children were bathed and put to bed after story time”. “Woman finds happiness in the little things and shares love with her friends”.

Self work is exceptional. Self work is vital. Self work will never make the headlines.

If you want to change the world, start with yourself. If you are a mess and you start by trying to change the world, you make the world a mess. Seek balance in self and know yourself. You will radiate balance and earned confidence to a world that desperately needs it.

Remember the work you do on self today seems boring. It can even be painful. But it is just and righteous and worthy of your time. You, are worthy of your time.

Namaste,

Kevin

 

Reject Division

It is so easy to pick sides right now. You don’t have to look far to find an attempt to divide humanity. Women vs Men. Black vs White. Republicans vs Democrats. US vs Russia.

They are trying to divide us. They are trying to piss you have. They are trying to make you pick a side and see everyone else as other. They are trying to isolate you.

The herd never gets attacked directly. The herd is too powerful together. The goal of the predator is to frighten the herd and weed out the stragglers. Separate. Divide and conquer. They are trying to get you riled up and throw you off your game.

Reject division. Embrace your adversary.

Your true enemy is hidden in their tower and laughing as they watch us fight amongst ourselves.

Unify, unite. Love. Find common ground and stand on it.

Keep reaching across the aisle. Keep burying your differences and embrace your similarities.

I encourage you to be different. I encourage you to be yourself. Just try not to reject someone else when they disagree with you.

If you take one word away from this article, let it be ‘Love’.

Namaste,

Kevin

The Global Brain

I heard an interesting analogy the other day. Someone referred to the internet as a global brain. In this analogy, all of the internet users are neurons in a giant brain the encompasses the globe. We are all part of the living organism that represents the entire group of users of the internet.

This concept suddenly clicked with me when I considered it in conjunction with the content on the internet. All the potty and posturing that is on the internet doesn’t really make sense. Why do people behave the way they do?Backstabbing, infighting, brazen stupidity, simple ignorance. Most people would never be this rude in front of a another person.

With the brain analogy it suddenly begins to make sense. My brain says all sorts of crazy crap that never makes it to my mouth (gratefully).  All the random chatter that meditation seeks to calm. All the processes in our brain that fire on autopilot. Imagine how it would appear being observed from the outside. It would look like complete gibberish at best and bile at worst if we could actually read someone else’s thoughts and see everything that’s happening in their heads.

Many of the posts and content on the internet seem easy to interpret, but in reality they are all deeply out of context, absent from the individual’s brain that generated them. With context lost the overarching message starts to distill as others join into the chorus of voices. Themes appear, patterns stabilize and the global brain distills a thought. Or, more often, the thought simply sparks and then dies out, un-noted and anonymous

Reading through the internet, thinking in terms of a global brain, you can see how this starts to resonate. In a way you’re able to see the global mind at work and read it’s thoughts. Frequently this is useless and frustrating. It’s hard to understand why some things would happen, or appear to take shape the way they do. It’s easier to allow space for the chaos when you realize you’re tapped into a mind and reading random thoughts on it.

Thinking about this, I reconsider the value of telepathy. If you could read someone’s mind, I’m guessing the bulk of the information you would come away with would not be worth the reams of paper you wrote it down on. True telepathy would probably just be an exercise in frustration. Out of context thoughts would appear random and frustrating.

There may be something tangible and useful to the concept of the internet as a global brain. Or perhaps it’s just a powerful thought experiment to look at something familiar in a new way. Either way my internal brain is having a field day churning on the implications.

Namaste,

Kevin

All I Ever Wanted

All I ever wanted was to help people understand.

All I ever wanted was for the world to make sense.

I was told I was silly, over-ambitious. I don’t like to look the fool.

But I was driven. Driven. So driven.

I refused to believe their chatter.

The chatter became the voice of malcontent in the back of my mind, but my mind went on.

So I strived. strove? struggled. I tried and I tried.

Reaching in all directions. Driven, but directionless.

Seeking a presence, but lacking the tools to present.

I tried and I tried. Reaching in all directions.

Wearing myself down to the nub.

 

Finally, I realized they were right.

I was a fool. This can’t be done. I am lost and wasted.

Was my epiphany the product of awareness?

Or the side effect of resignation?

Had I put enough time into being foolish?

Should I proceed?

 

So much time lost. So much effort lost.

Lost in the gap.

So much fallen through the cracks.

So much lost effort trying to measure up.

Effort lost, giving up. All gone.

 

They were right. I was wrong.

All I wanted was to have an impact. Simple impact.

 

And yet, even in my resignation, I feel it. Calling me to share.

Reaching out to me to reach out to others. Help them understand.

All cannot be lost. The work of a lifetime isn’t finished in an afternoon.

Or 30 afternoons. Or 3000…

 

Heartbreak. Yes.

Pain. Yes.

So many shut down feelings. So much pain avoided by voiding my heart.

Block the pain by ignoring the present. Focus on the elsewhere.

The work remains. It is always there.

 

All I ever wanted was to have an impact.

My work is not over. And only a fool would proceed.

So I must now become the fool.

 

I look back at the others. The voice of dissent. The voices that cautioned me.

They come from their own malcontent. Their own inner demons.

They are not happy voices. They haven’t discovered the path.

They do not know. So, how can they say?

 

Yes, I do not know the path.

But I do not believe I should take direction from the lost.

And so I embrace my role.

I must become the fool.

Or perhaps I must embrace the fool that I have become.

 

All I ever wanted…

All I ever wanted…

The work continues.

 

Namaste,

Kevin

 

special thanks to ‘The Weather Station’ for inspiration: Thirty – here

Mission Critical

Wow, I have absolutely nothing to write about today… It’s not that there is nothing to write about. It’s that there is too much to write about. It’s not that I have no opinion on the state of the world today. I have many opinions. I’m impressed by humanity. I’m depressed by humanity. My frustration and confusion has often lead to inaction. How can I fix what appears so intractably broken? How can I focus my energies on being part of the positive forces in the universe? I have a difficult time focus my energies to  make a change. But I want to make a change. I want to see grand forces unleashed from my efforts. With a big enough metaphysical lever, can I fix the world?

I saw a tremendous bumper sticker the other day:

Relax. Nothing is under control.

It reminded me, that even as I struggled to control the small things, I am wasting my time. As I shift my focus from the big items beyond my control to the little items that I have control over, I’m fooling myself. Everything I struggle to become master over is another struggle that doesn’t need to happen.

This isn’t futility. This isn’t me giving up. I must be an active participant in creating the universe around me, that’s why I came to this mortal plain.

But I don’t need to take it so seriously.

When things don’t make sense, maybe they aren’t meant to.

Have you been watching game of thrones? (don’t worry, no spoilers) It’s a violent drama show about kingdom building and battles. We are made privy to the machinations and control attempts by lords, kings and queens, over the world around them. Eventually, almost every plot point ties back and we are given the bigger picture.  We get to see what both sides are thinking and the growth of each situation as it develops. We’ve come to believe that real life is that way. It’s not.

We have come to believe if we watch the news long enough we’ll get the full story and everything will make sense. It won’t.

The people making up the news are as clueless and grasping at straws as much as you are. Yes, context is researched more deeply and more information is divulged. But you aren’t being given access to the backstory in a plot. We often confuse news reporters with the omnipotent narrator in a story. It’s more akin to the faulty narrator in a story where you’re being given a glimpse into the psyche of the story teller. You’re being told about the world as a faulty narrator sees it. There is no objective analysis. There is no omnipotent force informing the report. They are just people, like you. They have agenda and motives and they are part of the story, not an omnipotent narrator. Remember that.

It’s easy to forget when faced with threats from North Korea, that we don’t know the whole story. The parts of the story we see are disturbing. It’s easy to pick sides and draw conclusions. It is especially easy when you have skin in the game. They can fire as far as South Korea? Bummer. Then can fire as far as Japan? That’s rough. They can hit California? WTF, DO SOMETHING!!!

It’s nice to treat it as someone else’s problem. Until it happens to you. But remember, nothing has actually happened yet… But when it does, what will it be? Will war change it? Can we have a positive impact? Would we resolve the problem faster if we found oil in North Korea?

Do I have any control or influence over the situation at all?

Then, suddenly, nature turns it’s attention toward you. Suddenly North Korea drops off the top of the headlines as a hurricane hits Texas. We watch in helpless wonder as our friends and family struggle to escape flooding and survive one of the worst hurricanes we’ve seen in a while.

Feeling helpless sucks.

Then, I read this:

Environmentalists crowd fund a forest

Yes, it’s politically motivated. Yes, the article does a lot bashing. But they are taking a negative situation and making something positive out of it. People are doing something good.

The world is full of good people doing good things. Some for the right reasons, some for the wrong reasons, but they are making a difference.

You are making a difference.

You need to keep making a difference.

Be the person the world needs and let go of the outcome.

Don’t control, simply Be.

If you need a boost, try here:

Uplifting news on Reddit

This subreddit has articles posted that remind you the world isn’t a cesspool.

The world is a better place than the media makes it out to be.

You are a better person than your mind makes you out to be.

Be you. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. We will get to where we need to be. That’s all we can ask for.

 

Namaste,

Kevin

 

Love Them Beautiful

Is everyone actually beautiful? Is there beauty everywhere? Am I beautiful?

Yes! Correction, “HELL YES!” You are beautiful, I am beautiful. Even that ass-hat at the office that did that thing to you the other day, they are beautiful.

Ugly is really just an energetic state. A very low level of energy. Hate, greed, fear, these are low energy states. They are powerful, but they can be overcome with high energy states. Love, Compassion, Joy.

A smile is a powerful tool for a face and for feeling. The joy and release that come from smiling at someone is powerful. To see the face of a skeptical person as you approach them, both sides wary, both uncertain, then you crack a smile. It is like seeing the sun coming out from behind clouds. The skeptical face softens, relaxes, and a smile dawns. It is truly a thing of beauty.

If you have challenging people in your life, one powerful approach, is to love them. Love them beautiful. Approach them with compassion and love. This doesn’t mean you have to expose your delicate underbelly to the ass-hat at work. But somebody has to start the flow of love. Trust is gained over time. Love can be immediately given.

Grudges hurt you more than the person you hold a grudge against. Don’t punish yourself for someone else’s actions.

Embrace your own loveliness and beauty and spread it to the rest of the world with love and a smile.

Namaste, Kevin

 

 

You’re not as fat as you think, but you will be

I have felt fat for much of my life. I’ve discovered as I get older that it is, at least in part, a state of mind. In part it is a state of society. There is an image of the perfect body, and I haven’t ever had it. Which is interesting because I look back on how I used to look and what I used to weight and I realize I looked and weighed a pretty healthy amount. But that’s not what the world told me.

I am a big guy, I always have been, ever since that final growth spurt in college. But I’ve been working off charts made by the AMA (American Medical Association) that say I’m obese. Doctors have been telling me for years that I need to get off the excess weight. The result has been occasional “success” followed by my body returning to it’s comfortable weight. In retrospect, my comfortable weight was more of the success.

My mindset that I was fat has lead more frequently to me giving up on eating healthy. My belief I was fat has not lead me to lose weight, it’s lead me to being fat. When I get stressed I eat. When I feel overweight I feel like it doesn’t matter what I eat. When I get stressed and eat it’s usually not good quality food. I very rarely get so stressed out that I need to go eat a salad.

So I came across pictures from 6 years ago. And I look at that young guy in the pictures and think, I was looking pretty good. For an obese man (thanks AMA).

While we’re on the topic of obesity, let me highlight that having a single chart that it supposed to tell you your ideal weight, that doesn’t take into account your frame size, skeletal mass, really anything about you specifically, and then making a medical claim off that average of humanity is TOTAL B@**SH*@. The average person isn’t average and to tell someone what they should do or be based on what the average of everyone else did or was is a complete fallacy.

As a man I get the impression that I’m not supposed to care. Or that I am not a typical demographic that is supposed to mind.  But I do and I have. There is a lot in society that tells me what I’m supposed to be and I tend to internalize this and criticize myself for not being what I could never be.

In a way this feeds into all the messages I’ve ever written on this blog. You are okay as you are. You are not broken, you just don’t conform to a false image of what you should be and what you should believe. You have been fed a bill of goods by society stating what you are supposed to be and how you are supposed to act and what your body should look like, it is a lie.

Be you! Be okay with you!

I’m working on being okay with me, and the first step is admitting that I’ve lied to myself about what I should be. I am F&@#ING AWESOME! And I have the body of an Adonis. Which is nice.

Then again the phrase “Body of an Adonis” has it’s own judgement in it. Body shaming is built into my language. I have the body of a human. I am exactly who and what I need to be for the moment that I am in.

Maybe I’ll lose some weight this year. Maybe I’ll gain some weight this year. But what I really wish for this year is the power to be me, as I am, as I need to be. It is easy being perfect, because I’m already there. Next step is accepting my perfection.

Please look at yourself today and accept your perfection. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with me.

Namaste and Love, Kevin

The Importance Of Being Human

I was working on the dishes this morning, in the kitchen.

“Oh NO!!!” I hollered as a pile of dishes in a mixing bowl shifted and the water sloshed out of the bowl, out of the sink, onto the floor and my pants and my shoes.

My daughter came running over, “Where is the broken glass?”

“There isn’t any broken glass,” I responded. A little disgruntled and a little agitated.

“Well at least nothing is broken,” She responded with a smile.

I considered for a moment. I softened. “Yes, at least nothing is broken.”

At least nothing was broken. It’s true. It was just a puddle on the ground and a rag later, and a wipe down of my pants, everything was more or less, good as new.

It’s hard sometimes to remember how good we have it. It can be easy to get buried in a problem and think the world is coming to an end. It isn’t likely to.

Individual worlds do collapse.

Illusions shatter all the time.

But we are here. We are alive. We are a miracle.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact we are human. We are miraculous.

I spend much of my day buried in my thoughts. In a world I have constructed in my head. I fold and craft a reality around me from the images I build in my mind of what I believe is happening around me. It’s not real. It’s not as bad as it seems.

At least there is no broken glass. Yes, sometimes there is a mess. Sometimes there is broken glass. But we are here. We are human.

Human is a very loaded word.

It can be an excuse for behavior and mistakes. “He’s only human.”

It can be a burden to overcome. “Held back by humanity.”

It can be a low water mark above which some rise, “She’s superhuman.”

It can represent disgraceful behavior or shocking catastrophe, “Oh, the humanity!”

It can represent the best of us, “It is beautiful to see human kindness.”

It’s easy to forget it represents us. With all our foibles and all our strengths. It’s important to remember that we are human.

Yes, sometimes we are a mess. But that is okay. After all, we are, only human.

Namaste,

Kevin

It’s Complicated

“It’s complicated”. This phrase has been leaving my mouth a lot recently. It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m talking about how to interact with my 4 year old or the state of global politics. I consider all the things that are going on around me and when I try to explain them, or put them into words, all I can come up with is “It’s complicated”. Which I suppose is a way of throwing up my hands in the air and saying “Hell if I know”… But it’s a little more polite in conversation.

It’s a clear sign of being overwhelmed. Inundated. Past my threshold.

I miss being 20 something. Even then I had a lot going on and a lot of doubts about things. But the world seemed a lot simpler. My problems seemed a lot more… Well I was going to say easy. But in reality, I look back at them and they appear easier. Many appear trivial. But they look easy, because they are past. I know I survived them, or overcame them. I know it’s going to be okay, because it was okay. Everything turned out, more or less, for the best.

I feel like living in the world today takes more than it did back then. But that may be a fallacy. My world has changed dramatically since I was in my 20’s. I have kids and a wife. I have many more bills to pay and responsibilities. It’s hard to look objectively and state that the world today is different because of X or Y, when in reality the world is different because of everything.

Is the world today better or worse? Are people devolving or evolving?

It seems the more I learn about how the world ticks, the less I accept as being understood.

My world view has evolved.

My reasons for doing things have changed.

I am still me, and I am still optimistic. But I have adapted, I have changed. I am not the same as I was when I set out on this journey. Which, to be fair, I believe is the reason for the journey.

What I’m trying to say is, “It’s complicated”. But it’s going to be okay.

Namaste and Love,

Kevin