You Get What You Pay For

They say the best things in life are free. It would be nice if that were true, and perhaps if you’re talking about money, it has a ring of truth to it. However, it is the unfortunate truth that anything worth having has a cost associated with it, something we have to give up in order to have it. Many times it is money or resources, but even if it’s just a positive interaction with another person there is a cost of some kind, be it time or effort. As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

I have spent most of my life yearning for something more. There has never been a time in my life where I’ve been content with where I am. When I look back on my life, I know that objectively I’ve had it pretty good. So many opportunities have come my way, and they could have been so much more than they were if I were willing to just do what it took to get the best out of them. A little bit of elbow grease and a positive attitude would have yielded a life many times more rich and vibrant than what I’ve come to now.

The problem is and always has been that I’m unwilling to put in the effort to achieve that kind of life. I know deep down that the ability to do great things is there, but the will and courage to do it simply aren’t. When I was growing up, I was told over and over that I could be anything I want, and while it may sound a bit arrogant, I know that for myself, at least, that was the truth. I’m no genius, but I have enough intellect to do most any job out there. The only thing holding me back is my own apathy.

It is the same problem in my personal life. My heart yearns for the same feeling of love as everyone else, but relationships are hard work and I never seem to get enough out of them for the effort to be worth it. It’s not because the people in my life aren’t worth having that effort put into them. I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing people become part of my life. The problem has always been me and my inability to focus on anything other than what I want. It is a selfish heart that keeps me down.

Despite this knowledge, I can’t seem to find the will to come back from this place that holds me back. An insidious laziness has taken hold of my soul, quashing any chance at something more than just a mediocre life that wastes me away until my body expires. I look into the future and there is just a huge, blank wall staring back at me. What is there to look forward to when all you can see is just an endless parade of the same day over and over? And then how do you break that cycle when you can’t stand what is required to escape it?

The core issue is that anything worth having is hard work, and I have always been averse to putting effort into things that don’t give me an immediate return on my investment. I was raised in the era of instant gratification, and that makes it very difficult for me to find the will to keep trying at things that don’t seem as if they’re going to pay off. I’m not a risk taker, and I likely never will be. You can’t find greatness if you never take any risks. Still, knowing this doesn’t change who I am.

It is nearly impossible to keep going when you have no hope for the future. A man wants to know that what he is doing matters and that his work and effort have meaning. One can only pointlessly plunge away at something for so long before he realizes his effort is simply going to waste. Some people can hold out for a long time; others give up after only a short while. They say persistent people are successful people. I’ve always struggled with persistence.

At any rate, I know there are so many people out there who are just like me; big dreams but no ambition. Part of it is our fault, but part of it is the environment we grew up in. Everything was handed to us growing up. There was no real effort required to get the things we want. As time moves forward, it only gets worse. The conveniences of life have softened us to the point that we simply don’t have the will to really go after anything anymore. We want it laid out at our feet.

Though the world doesn’t work that way, and I’m fully aware that it doesn’t, a lifetime of terrible habits and attitude isn’t something most people can just decide to change. Part of me waits for an opportunity that will captivate my imagination and convince me to summon the will to put my whole self into something I find worth doing. Unfortunately, the rest of me knows that it is only people who go out and find their own passion that live the kinds of lives we all yearn for.

I simply can’t take that leap of faith.

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Life is More Like Burger King Than Denny’s

A few times during the course of my life I’ve heard the phrase “you don’t fill my cup”. This rather innocuous phrase is an indirect pointer to the way our society has evolved over the last century as we become more and more consumer centric. One of the most dangerous mindsets in the world is the idea that other people owe you something, even when it comes to the relationships you choose to partake in. If there truly is a pandemic in the world, this is it.

The idea of having a cup to be filled makes a certain amount of sense and contains a certain amount of truth. We all have emotional needs that must be filled if we are to find any amount of contentedness or happiness. The metaphor of a cup being filled with the “water” that makes us happy is an easy visual reference that makes it quite clear what both the perceived need is and the method in which many people think we are supposed to find that “water”.

Unfortunately, like many things we tend to be rather selfish when it comes to being philosophical about how human beings work. Most of the time we apply concepts to other people that we can’t or won’t apply to ourselves. The idea of someone “pouring into our cup” implies that the person gives us something that adds to our life in a way that increases our happiness. Unfortunately, we tend to forget that life is far more like Burger King than it is like Denny’s.

You see, when you go to a “sit-down” restaurant like Denny’s, a waiter comes by and brings you a cup and keeps filling it as required to keep you satisfied. You have to do nothing for this to happen; the waiter comes by and fills up your cup. It’s quite simple and, if the waiter is doing their job, you stay very content during the extent of your visit because your expectations are being met. Someone is filling your cup for you and that is what both parties have agreed to.

In reality, though, relationships in life are supposed to be a lot more like Burger King. When you step away from the counter with your cup, there is no waiter there to grab your cup and fill it up for you. You actually have to walk over to the fountain and fill up the cup yourself. You don’t walk into a fast food restaurant with the expectation that someone is going to service you, regardless of the fact that there are employees there performing certain minimal functions. You understand that it’s a fast food joint.

In our spoiled modern times, we tend to expect our relationships to be far more like Denny’s than Burger King. Both parties are expecting the other to service their needs, all the while oblivious to the needs of the other person. Much of the unhappiness in modern relationships comes not from terrible people, but from unreasonable expectations. If we all treated our relationships like a fast food restaurant, I think there would be a lot less discontentedness in the world.

What this overly drawn out metaphor is trying to make clear is that it is up to you to fill your own cup. No one else can do it for you. Rather than expecting someone to wander by and pour into your cup for you, it is your duty and responsibility to pick up your cup and walk over to where the water is and fill it yourself. If you can’t muster the will to that, then you’ll never appreciate a full cup anyway.

A Life of Aimlessness

I’ve said a few times before on this blog that I struggle with knowing what I want to do with my life. Over the course of nearly four decades, I’ve done so many different things that most people probably wouldn’t believe it. If I recall, I covered some of that in one of my first posts, and every time I go back and recall the things I’ve experienced in my time here on Earth, I’m surprised at just how varied my experiences have been.

While this sounds like an amazing thing, it really is a double-edged sword. I struggle with the fact that I don’t have any one thing that stands out to me as something I can be passionate about. Most of the great things that I’ve experienced have actually been side effects of the various situations that I found myself in through an organic process of just moseying my way through life. Virtually nothing has been a result of me knowing where I was going or what I was doing.

Perhaps the biggest force of this was my time as a Marine musician. While music was very important to me at a young age, having spent my middle and high school years focused on being in the band, as well as spending a year pursuing a music education degree, it grew less and less important as I spent more time buried under the weight of the rigid program that is Marine Corps music. I became very disillusioned with the whole thing, yet some of the most powerful memories of my life come from that period of time. There was no willing heart in any of it; it was just something that happened to me unexpectedly.

The last eight or so years of my life have been much the same from an attitude standpoint, but the experiences haven’t surfaced as they have in the past. The unfortunate reality is that you can only act upon the opportunities that are presented to you, and when none are provided you are forced to either accept where you are or make attempts to create opportunities yourself. What do you do then if you can’t accept where you are but don’t know how to create those opportunities? Even if you did, how do you know which opportunities you want to make?

Ever since leaving military service, my dream has been to find a way to make a living for myself, not relying on others to provide me with an income that is contingent on doing whatever it is they want me to do. The problem is that I just don’t possess the imagination or creativity to figure out how to do that. Like everything else, I’m just waiting around for that spark that ignites my passion so I can jump onto something I can get excited about. I’m not very good at waiting.

I’m not really sure what I’m trying to get at with this post. My life is in a place right now where I’m struggling on many fronts, from career to relationships to just finding a way to be happy with my circumstances. There are so many ideas for what I think I could do, but no apparent way to get to any of them. My mind has become locked in the rigidity I have become accustomed to, and I just don’t know how to break free from it.

So I continue to wait, hoping fruitlessly for some random thing to surface in my life that points me in a direction I can live with. That’s no way to live, but it’s all I really have. I can talk about all the different ideas that make sense to me, and the fact that I can’t reconcile them with own life doesn’t make them any less valid. It is simply a reflection of the fact that the emotional side of our being cares little for logic, preferring to just run wild with its own idea of what should be.

It just makes it so much harder.

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An Echo of Reality

I came to a rather stark realization this morning: I don’t exist. At least, not in the way that everyone else around me seems to. So many people seem to have at least a vague understanding of who they are and what they are about, but I’ve spent my entire life struggling with what I want and who I am. After so much soul searching in trying to figure out what might make me happy in life, I realize that there is one thing that defines me as a person: the stories I’ve immersed myself in from the very beginning.

From fantasy novels as a kid to online roleplaying games as a young adult to binge-watching my favorite Dungeons and Dragons stream Critical Role over these last few years, as well as the hundreds of movies and television series I’ve experienced along the way, my entire life has been a strong desire to escape this mundane world we live in to experience something new and fascinating. I have lived through many adventures and stories in my own imagination, participating vicariously in lives far more interesting than anything I could ever find in the real world.

It is because of this that I struggle to find any passion here in the actual life I’m living day to day. The things I do outside of my personal time delving into new stories and worlds are the things I have to do to allow myself the ability to stay in that space. I’ve always wondered why I tend to detest almost everything, especially the relatively good jobs that I’ve had, and it now makes so much sense: because they take me away from the worlds I crave so much. My anxiety on the job or doing other “real” things comes down to that yearning to return to that space within myself that satisfies a burning desire for the next amazing story.

The consequences of this way of living are very costly, not so much to me but for the people who have wandered into and out of my life. While I have a strong desire for those relationships I’ve had, including the one I seem to be losing now, nothing trumps my need to experience something new and exciting. The idea of settling down into a mundane routine of the same things and the same people and the same grindy existence for the rest of my life repulses me beyond what I can bear. It is this inevitable boredom that causes me end up with everything in my life fading into the background in pursuit of the next amazing thing.

This way of being is in direct opposition to the lessons that life has taught me over the years. My upbringing and time in military service brought a pragmatism to my naturally dreamlike state, teaching me the skills and abilities I need to maintain what is necessary to not starve on the street. Like every double-edged sword in life, it helps me survive while at the same time stunting everything about me that brings passion. How many opportunities have I missed out on because my rational side told me they were ridiculous? Was I even capable of recognizing them even if they happened?

The honest truth is that I don’t know how to be a “normal” person, and I’m not really sure that I want to be. Everything about me is a desire to escape the boredom of the mundane. My entire time in the military was a struggle against conforming to the will of others, and my time since then has been a continuation of this internal rage against anything approaching sublimating myself in favor of what others demand from me. I don’t know how to be the kind of person who is satisfied with everyday life, but my life experiences have molded me into someone who doesn’t know how to break free from it. It is a gridlock of wanting something I don’t know how to reach.

This is the silent wailing of an echo of reality, a person who doesn’t really exist here in the real world, but in that ethereal place where imagination meets the soul. It is there where I find contentment, where I’m able to free myself from the bonds of all the things I hate about life; where I can separate myself from a world that holds no meaning for me and live the kinds of lives I always dreamed about. How can I be content with anything else after that?

I can’t help but hold out hope that I can somehow shed the kind of life I’ve led so far and figure out a way to make my life about the stories that have meant so much to me over the years. There is no way for me to know at this point in my life what that might look like, but I can say with absolute certainty that I will jump at the opportunity to move into a space that allows me to make my life about shaping something beyond what we have here in this life. Whether that’s through acting or writing or whatever I have the talent for, I yearn for the next phase of my life to be completely different from what I’ve had so far.

So the question is: can I?

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Successful Ignorance

“The world will always need ditch diggers.” This saying, or whatever version you might be familiar with, has been around for as long as we have had modern industry. As people have moved from primarily farm based activity to jobs in production, we have been constantly striving to move beyond the need for menial labor and into work that satisfies our souls. Few people are content with the idea that certain people have to do the dirty jobs that most of us avoid, and virtually no one wants to actually do them. Yet, until we enter into that utopian post-scarcity society where all our hated tasks are automated and work is no longer required, the saying still stands.

We human beings tend to be very good at learning new things, especially if it is taught to us by someone who has gone through it before. It is for this reason that we tend to look at successful people as masters of information who can provide us with insights that can move society forward. Unfortunately, many times this is the case, which reinforces the idea that we should listen to some people simply because they found success in whatever endeavor they happened to excel in. We forget that expertise in one area doesn’t mean even a competent knowledge in another, so we take their word for it, plunging ahead with ideas that have rarely been truly analyzed, simply imitated because it seemed good.

It is interesting how it is always the successful people in the world who talk about changing society from what it is today into something that is more beneficial to everyone. Their hearts are in the right place, but this attitude shows a basic misunderstanding of human nature, more specifically the capability of people to rise up or be hauled out of where the are to a new level of existence. In their minds, if they could find a way to break away from the machine and live the fulfilling lives they have now, why can’t everyone do it? It seems so simple to them that we just need to shift the way we do things so that people have more opportunities to follow their dreams. The brutal truth is that most people simply aren’t capable of doing the kinds of things that these very successful people do.

First and foremost, it typically requires a certain amount of intellect to be able to manipulate your situation in a way that becomes advantageous for you. If you are incapable of processing what is going on around you and figure out ways to gain from them, it doesn’t matter how much heart you have, you’re going to fail. Stupidity is always punished, and if we’re honest the average person isn’t really all that intelligent compared to the kinds of difficult tasks required to rise up out of the muck of mediocrity. Most of us simply aren’t well equipped.

Assuming you can get past that first hurdle of recognizing opportunities and having a vague idea of what to do with them, you must then possess the courage to take the risk of acting upon them. Success absolutely never comes without some kind of risk associated with it. Never. It might seem like the safest thing in the world, but even if all you’re investing is your time and effort, that is time and effort that you never get back if you fail. It is time and effort you could have been putting into something else that may have succeeded. It requires a great deal of courage to see an opportunity and be willing to jump in feet first to try and make it happen.

While there are a multitude of variables that go into becoming successful in society, perhaps the absolute most important one is completely outside of our own control: luck. No matter how smart or courageous or hardworking you might be, it all comes to naught if what you’re doing isn’t happening in the right place at the right time. Successful people tend to believe that they got where they are through their own hard work and determination, and to some extent that is true. However, lurking beneath all that veneer is the fact that they just happened to be right where they needed to be to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself. Luck is an extremely important factor, and we all can’t be as lucky as that.

This is what really irks me when I hear a successful person trying to say that we need to tear everything down and readjust everything so that all people get to live the kinds of lives they want. We live in a world of limited resources, which includes things like natural ability and intelligence and work ethic and luck. Some people have more while others have less, and the world has shown us that resources tend to be allocated accordingly. Those people with all the right variables, not the least of which is that pesky luck, will always rise to the top while the rest of us wallow in whatever causes us to remain at the bottom of the food chain.

Does this mean I think we shouldn’t listen to successful people? Obviously not. There are many things that you can learn from a successful person that you can implement into your own life to increase your odds of becoming successful yourself. What I’m saying here is that we should never listen to the philosophy of a successful person when it comes to how they think other people should be treated or how they believe things should be changed so that more people can find success. The reality is that they have no clue beyond the field in which they found success. It is important that people stay in their lane, even those who have become prominent members of society. They simply don’t know much beyond their own expertise, however impressive that might be.

For those of us who have yet to find the success we crave, or likely never will, we must keep in mind that success is a finite thing, just like everything else. There isn’t enough to go around, and some people are going to get more of it than the rest of us. It simply is what it is. Armed with this knowledge, you have two choices. You can either buckle down and go after whatever it is you want with all your heart and hope luck is on your side, or you can decide to direct your efforts toward becoming content with what you have and figuring out a way to be happy in whatever life ends up having for you.

Regardless, it is important to remember that no matter how much success another person might find, they are no more an expert on what is best for you than you are. Only you can decide what your life is worth and what is important to you. It is important to learn from others, but take care in how you incorporate that knowledge into your life, ensuring it remains in its proper place and perspective. And if you one day find the success you crave, try to remember that you’re just lucky, not better.

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The Problem with Being Unrealistic

Human beings reach for the stars. It’s in our nature to be unsatisfied with what we have and constantly strive for something better. The drive to succeed and accomplish great things is what has propelled us from living in cold, dark caves to the fantastic level of technology that we enjoy today. There is nothing inherently wrong with being unrealistic because most of the things we have today wouldn’t be possible if someone at some point hadn’t decided to follow their dreams in the face of overwhelming evidence that it wouldn’t work out.

This is the double-edged sword when it comes to being realistic. Almost all of the time it is in our best interests to weigh what is feasible against what is vaguely possible. Some ideas are just reasonable enough to be within the realm of actually happening, but are so remote that you are virtually guaranteed to be wasting your time and energy on it. Yet if you don’t try then it becomes literally guaranteed. It makes it quite difficult to reach out when you know that you’re very likely to fail at something that could change your life for the better if you succeed or completely ruin it if you fail.

Hope is what causes us to reach out for things that should be beyond our grasp, but hope flies in the face of reality in most cases. There are billions of individual people on the planet, each with their own dreams for the future, and only a very small percentage are able to reach far beyond their means to accomplish something truly great. Most of us forget about that when we start imagining what things might be like if we go after something we want. How many others tried and failed? We don’t like to think about the sheer number of people who are stuck where they are simply because the odds weren’t in their favor.

Of course, how many of them never bothered to try because it seemed so difficult? How much of that number of unsuccessful people is due to the hopelessness that comes from knowing that something is nearly impossible? We are not incentivized to ignore the numbers, our innate desire to play it safe preventing us from going out on a limb for that choice piece of fruit. Better to live with the slightly under ripe fruit than to dangle precariously reaching for the perfectly sweet treat.

Like most things in our life, the question of being unreasonable can’t be answered for you. As an individual with your own thoughts and desires, it is only you who can determine where you draw the line between what is realistic and what is beyond your reach. You are the one who will have to put the effort into whatever it is you’re trying to do, hopefully with the support of others, but ultimately the outcome rests heavily on your shoulders. And then even if you do everything right, you can still fail. That is the risk.

For most people, this thought process will seem far outside anything they have to worry about, focused solely on their job or their family or whatever mundane thing it is that most of us put our effort into. However, we can be unreasonable in a great many things, even the mundane. Perhaps we want a house that is beyond our means, putting ourselves into more debt than we can afford to get it. Our marriage might not be what we wished it were, and we seek attention from another who seems to be offering what we want. The job that provides what we need might be unsatisfying and we walk away in the hope that we can find something more suitable.

All of these things can be viewed as unreasonable if we are not in the proper position to do anything about it. It all comes down to learning to be satisfied with what you have while holding on to the hope that things can still get better. It is a tightrope of mental focus that allows us to reach some level of satisfaction in our lives, not throwing away what we have in pursuit of something else, but still continuing down the path of improvement even if it never happens. Hope is a good thing; expectations are not.

What do you think about unreasonable expectations? Do you have things in your life that you want to change that seem impossible? Are you sabotaging yourself in pursuit of those things, or have you learned to accept where you are? Can you hold out hope for the future while still being content with where you are right now? It seems like a huge contradiction, but if we want to keep moving forward without flying too close to the sun, we have to learn to find that feeling of acceptance and patience, waiting for a future that may never come.

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Inequity is Correct…For Now

It’s a word that just about everyone hates these days, like every other word that has become politically charged through the actions of one group who has decided something is bad. Some people hate what the word represents, railing against a system they see as unfair and exclusionary. Others hate it because it assaults what they have, a threat to their livelihoods from groups of people who can’t seem to get things together. Whichever side you land on, it’s unlikely that the word inequity doesn’t affect you in one way or another.

Many times it’s difficult to come up with a clear and logical answer to the problems our societies face. There are so many moral and ethical dilemmas that come with trying to answer questions that apply to large groups of people, especially in world power nations with hundreds of millions of people. For most things, it is impossible to define one clear rule that everyone should follow, and even some of the rules that we see as universal aren’t agreed upon by some. There are always outliers, and they are the ones who end up being forced to either conform or live as outcasts.

When it comes to the concept of inequity, however, it becomes very difficult to argue the idea as something that is either moral or ethical. It sounds great when you just say it out loud, the assumption that everyone should have a basic quality of life and no one should have more than anyone else. The reality, though, is that equity is one of the absolute worst forms of human oppression that one can imagine. It flies in the the face of the laws of nature and completely disregards what makes us human beings in the first place.

Inequity exists as part of the natural world. Some animals are born with advantages that allow them to hunt more food or find more mates or secure a better home. This lack of perfect balance weeds out those who can’t find a way to survive, pooling resources for those more fit and capable while leaving the weak to starve or succumb to the elements. Nature cares little for our ideals of equity, and it is only because we have advanced to the point that we can ignore it that the idea has any kind of meaning at all.

We obviously can’t live by the same rules as animals because our society is built on the strength that comes from community. Human beings are the epitome of natural inequity, blessed with an intelligence and physical form that allows us to create technologies and cultures that place us far outside the typical realms of most of the animal kingdom. By our very nature, we exude inequity on a daily basis as we drive around in our cars and live in our huge houses and fly around in our airplanes.

Still, comparing human inequity to animal inequity doesn’t really resonate, regardless of how logical it is. We will always place far more importance on our own lives than that of any animal. It doesn’t matter how much evidence we see that inequity is the default in the natural world because we don’t really live in that world anymore. The argument can and has been made over and over it is in our nature to be selfish and place our own survival ahead of others, but that doesn’t satisfy our emotional need for justice, so the argument ends up falling on deaf ears.

One argument that can’t be reasonably argued against is the law of supply and demand. It is an immutable part of our everyday lives, determining the value of resources and who has access to them. In a world where everything is finite, not everyone is going to get everything they want. Either some people are going to realize their dreams while others struggle to get by, or no one ends up getting where they want to be and the hope for the future is crushed.

From what I’ve experienced in life so far, it seems like people need hope far more than comfort. It is the drive to realize the dream of “making it” that propels the human race forward. A sense of progressing toward something more is what causes us to yearn to create something new, even if it is perverted by our own greed more often than not. Without the hope that we can rise to new heights, how can we find the drive to do more than just sit around in the status quo? How much farther can our species go if we force ourselves to be content with what we have?

This is the dilemma of the human species. It is a fantasy to believe that in our current situation we can somehow find a way to provide equality of outcome for everyone. People simply want far more than what life can be extracted from the currently available pool of resources. Large portions of society might be content with simply having their needs met, but history has shown us that some will not and they will acquire what they want through force if there is no other way. We can’t escape the laws of nature, not yet.

So what do we do with this information? Are we doomed to forever live in a world where some people live far beyond the means of others? Not forever, but for a while yet. Until we come up with a way to provide everyone everything they desire, there will always be inequity. When we have perfect robots who roam our planet and the solar system harvesting resources and providing everything we need with no requirement for human labor, that will be the time when inequity can be abolished. Until then, the correct path forward is focusing on the word “equality”, because in a world of finite resources, equality of opportunity is the only truly fair way.

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Too Much Content

I think most people would agree that the internet is probably the single greatest advancement that human beings have made in the history of our existence. At no prior point in our past have we had the level of connectivity not just between those people in our immediate sphere, but with people from all around the world. Nearly unlimited information is at our fingertips in a nearly instantaneous fashion, and as technology and ideas continue to progress it only becomes easier and easier to find what you’re looking for.

This amazing ability to transfer information in a nearly effortless way is both the blessing and curse of internet content. Whereas it required a nearly impossible number of factors to come together to get something distributed even just a few decades ago, the modern internet has allowed anyone with a voice and the ability to use a computer or smartphone to start posting things online for other people to see. In a way, we have gone from having not nearly enough content at our disposal to having a tidal wave of information that washes over us on a daily basis.

The problem with this is that much of this content isn’t the fresh, clean waves of a clear ocean lagoon, but a deluge of sewage that buries us in filth. The internet as a whole focuses on quantity over quality, and the result of this is that virtually all of the content we become exposed to has had little or no review by a human person with the ability to compare what society really wants to what is being distributed. In the past, things like books or television shows or other published works had to get through a human filter who typically understood what would do well and what would not. Now it’s just a computer algorithm.

All of these things combine to create a new type of barrier to entry to getting noticed in the public space, and in many ways it can be harder to get noticed today than it ever was in the past. Before internet algorithms, nearly all content went through relatively few channels in the form of talent scouts or publishing companies or whatever other organizations sought out quality content to sell to the public. An artist typically knew where to go to get noticed, and success came down to being good enough and a little bit of luck.

Today, this just isn’t the case. Because of the vast amount of mediocre content creators that swamp the internet with uninteresting content, there is simply too much out there for human beings to sift through. It is the reason that algorithms have been developed in the first place. As a result, it isn’t enough for people who have some kind of talent to simply be good enough and show their talent to the people who decide. We have to become marketing experts in our own right to have any chance of getting noticed.

Of course, sometimes people just get lucky out of the blue for no particular reason other than they posted something that “went viral”. This is incredibly frustrating for people who plug away every day trying to get through the massive wall that is the internet search algorithm, only to watch someone post something that required little or no effort and just happened to hit the right nerve out of blind luck. This obviously happened in the past, but the gatekeepers typically recognized talentless individuals and rarely propped up these “one hit wonders” with any amount of seriousness.

It’s difficult to say whether the old way was better, or if the current way of doing things makes more sense. The creative part of me despises having to capitulate to the conformity required to make my content easily “searchable”. I prefer for the things I write or create to simply be what I want them to be, not what works for the algorithm. As I stated in a previous post, the reason we have such a sea of sameness is exactly because you can’t really get noticed if you don’t format your posts in a way that makes sense to the programming. Balanced with the abysmal quality of content we have today, I personally feel it was better when there were real human gatekeepers.

Regardless, we obviously won’t be going back to the way things used to be. Anyone who wants to enter this space will have to learn and adapt and figure out how to break through the barrier to entry that is the almighty algorithm, either by conforming to the system or figuring out a way around it. My hope is that I can find a way to do the latter, preserving the way I write so that my readers can see the authentic me rather than the veneer that results from shaping content to the algorithm. Until more people start to value this and take an active role in supporting that idea, we will continue to be stuck with the sewer brigade.

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How Do You Find Work You Love?

Clearly, there can be no standard answer for the title of this article. If anyone had actually figured out a short and simple way of finding and getting into a career that you love, everyone would be doing it. The unfortunate reality of life is that most of us will be forced to labor under tasks that aren’t fit for the kind of person that we are, scraping a living by soullessly performing work that has no meaning to us and provides no enrichment to who we are as people. There simply isn’t enough to go around to allow everyone to do whatever it is they dream of doing.

As sad as this fact is, it is the hope that perhaps we might be the one to get lucky and find the work we love doing that keeps us going every day. If we laid down and accepted the spiritual slavery that comes with slaving away for someone else’s dream, not many of us would choose to keep on living. It is our drive to see our dreams come true that keeps us getting up every day and going to work. The spiritual sustenance that comes from hope staves off the despair that would end us otherwise.

So how do we get to the point where we find something we love doing? The simple answer is to just keep on trying different things until you find something you like. Most of us are afraid of what is new, and I am certainly amongst the foremost in the category. It is exceedingly difficult for me to put myself out there and expose myself to potential embarrassment or failure. Failure isn’t something that sits well with me, and many of the ideas I’ve had for different things I might do were stopped before they ever got started because I didn’t believe I would succeed at them.

Unfortunately, it is quite rare for anyone to simply have their dream fall into their lap. It is only through getting out there and trying things that we experience something that meshes well with our talents and interests. Just like searching for a job requires effort, finding our calling requires significant amounts of work beyond simply paying the bills. It requires putting ourselves in uncomfortable places, exposing our vulnerabilities to the world in the hope that we can find something that enhances our lives through meaningful accomplishment.

Much of this comes down to being willing to learn new things. Many times we think we already know what we want, but most of the time this is just a lie we tell ourselves so we don’t have to get ourselves into potentially uncomfortable situations. It is for this reason that some people succeed where others fail, because they are willing and excited to go experience new things and figure out what it is that makes them feel fulfilled. You can’t find this kind of thing if you aren’t willing to go out and experience them.

As an introvert, I struggle with this every day, and most of the time I fail. I tend to prefer sitting around at home, not really getting anything meaningful done and just passing my time uselessly. My brain knows this is a waste, but the part of me that hates going out and dealing with the world almost always wins against the part of me that yearns for something more. I can tell myself that my current situation prevents me from doing the kinds of things I wish I could do, but the reality is that I am simply my own worst enemy.

Perhaps one day I will find the strength to get over my own issues and strike out to find that thing that will finally fulfill me. For now, though, this blog is the only thing I can muster at that provides me with any sense of doing something meaningful. While I can’t be a shining example to others, I can at least provide the perspectives of what I’ve learned over the years so that my readers might find some bit of value and add it to their own lives. As the cliché goes, those who can’t do teach.

Regardless, information that helps others is always worth sharing, and even if I can’t be the one that people look to as a model for their own lives, I can at least share what I think might be the truth. If it helps even one person, then it’s worth the time and effort. As much is I struggle with the idea, it is almost always when we are doing something that includes other people that we find meaning in what we do. Though we might prefer our safe little caves, it is only out in the open under the life giving sun that we find that feeling that makes us crave living.

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Fighting with Yourself

I think most people struggle with living with who they are. We are brought up to believe that we should be good people, striving to help others and participate in society in the way that everyone else seems to. For some people, this comes quite easily and they are able to set aside their selfish tendencies, at least to the level where they can cope with others in a meaningful way. People like me, however, will always struggle with the balance of needing to be with others while also having a fervent desire to be apart from the inevitable chaos that results from including other people in your life.

It is this paradox that has plagued my life from the first days I struck out on my own. No matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve experienced, I will never get away from the burning desire to quiet the noise around me and find peace. Perhaps it’s because my own inner monologue never seems to stop, and I find myself forever looking for ways to distract myself from it. Video games have always been a go to for that kind of thing, focusing my attention on a singular objective and avoiding the chaos that rages in my own mind.

The unfortunate part that the people most important to me always seem to suffer as a result of these flaws in who I am. No matter how much I might care for the people I love, there is an almost unshakable desire to maintain control of my environment, to push back the chaos that results when you add variables like other people to the equation. It is they who end up suffering as I continue to try to shape them to how I want them to be, my prideful impatience with the ways of others stomping on their spirit until they stop caring anymore and leave.

No prophecy is more powerful than the one you create for yourself, and my inability to get control over my need for control simply accentuates how much of an illusion control is in the first place. I might find a way to get some level of peace, perhaps for a short while or even for several years, but in the end life will always find a way to intrude on my sanctuary and throw things back into chaos. There is no escaping it, and throwing away all of the good things in life trying to hold onto this fake sense of control makes absolutely no sense.

Understanding and doing are two different things, however, as many times it’s easy to understand what you should be doing and far more difficult to convince yourself to do it. There is a reason why evil is so prevalent in the world: it’s just easier to do it that way. Our nature is to find the path of least resistance, and without some strong motivation to do otherwise we will almost always default to that instinctive way of doing things. It is one of the reasons we take so long to change; the effort involved many times just isn’t worth the effort.

This leaves me in a quandary. On the one hand I have the knowledge that keeping to myself isn’t a workable long term solution, but on the other I have the unquenchable desire to avoid the chaos that comes with leaving my safe little sanctuary. Many people would tell me to lean on others, but I’ve rarely had good experiences with that, which makes it all the harder to convince myself to change anything. Like most paradoxes, there is no clear solution. It’s a risk, just like everything else in our chaotic little lives.

For someone like me, all I can really do is hope for some true understanding from those people most important to me while I do my best to find whatever middle ground I can. Some will understand and others will not, but I suppose the people who really care will always find a way to set aside the bad parts of me to see what I have to offer. Those who can’t likely didn’t really care in the first place. That doesn’t absolve me of a need to change, but most things are a two way street: I need to change, but others need to understand me as well.

It is a delicate balance, I suppose, trying to set aside a terrible impulse while understanding you can’t live with totally abandoning it. There will always be a strong desire for the peace that comes from solitude, but human beings aren’t designed to be on their own and I can’t stay in that space forever. I want the things that come from having loved ones in my life, and that means stepping out from the sanctuary as often as I can manage it to maintain those relationships. Though I might wish I could have it both ways, it just doesn’t work like that. You have to occasionally leave the cave to find your sustenance.

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