I’ve been revisiting the wilderness of my youth in dreams,
Picking up loose threads in the dark like berries from the forest floor
And in the mornings, I reflect on my stained-bounty,
Weaving and dyeing the truth with fresh memories;
For, wrapped in a quilt I’ve made,
Covered in shame,
My treasure has hidden,
Unborn in the buried past –
A past where I was the odd-man out,
Excluded by the in-group
A freak in my own town
How unknown to myself I was;
Yet in hindsight, I see,
I am reborn like the hero of prophecy,
Purifed of and by my naiveté
My perspective changed
I wrote this three years ago; however, it was never properly published, until now.
In 2015 my world view was becoming far less ethereal and far more grounded in the pragmatic realities of science and technology; however, this suited me. I was writing a lot of code at the time (nothing too l33t, just front end stack), and I was fascinated by the singularity and futurism. Soon my new gods Sagan and Degrasse Tyson, were joined by Kurzweil and others; however, it was Nick Bostrom’s The Simulation Argument that would change my spiritual life.
Put forth in plain-speak – as I have come to understand it – the Simulation Argument is the idea (hypothesis) that we are living in a computer simulation, that reality itself is akin to a computer program.
If the idea is new to you, it’s likely to sound like we are living in The Matrix — which isn’t a terrible metaphor, but it isn’t a great one either.
Allow me to explain it [my conception of the Simulation Argument] as I have to friends:
Remember the first Atari?
We all know how basic games like Pong and Pacman were; now, think of the newest iteration of the gaming console, the Playstation Four:
Now, I want you to imagine the gaming console in twenty or thirty more years. Full neural immersion. Not just virtual reality, but reality indistinguishable from our own.
Scientists (Bostrom, Musk, et al.) believe that it’s going to be possible to simulate reality. Based on that hypothesis, it’s more likely than not that this is also a simulation, and that there are more simulated worlds than real worlds.
This is where you, the reader, may be thinking: put the bong down man. Only, this isn’t a half-baked concept. The Simulation Argument has gained major traction, both for and against; however, my purpose isn’t to dissect something that has been better explained by those smarter than myself. I merely want to explain what gave me a sense that yes, there might be a god, a great programmer in the sky.
For, if this is a simulation, then so many things would make sense for me, which otherwise do not in a purely natural world, but I must restate that I do not wish to try and explain things outside of my expertise, which math and science certainly are; however, I find solace in the knowing that some of the world’s smartest minds can arrive at answers I cannot, but nonetheless answers which solve very important questions, because philosophically humans have always sought to understand life — to understand their place in the universe. That’s really what this is a question of: what am I? Am I a mass of nerves, or am I something that might stretch beyond the physical universe? Is my soul in the cloud?
When I learned of the Simulation Argument and interpreted it as a personal paradigm for the nature of life and as an intelligent and compelling case for the existence of a god or godlike entity, I felt changed, I felt renewed; I felt that maybe the universe wasn’t so impartial and that maybe I could influence my fate more than I previously thought. Just maybe, life wasn’t fated for us to pass from the cradle to grave with a bit of luck and suffering in-between. Maybe magical things could happen. Maybe I could design my own user-experience in life. Maybe things like love, luck, The Law of Attraction, and other concepts fewer and fewer people seem to believe in today, are real. For me, it came down to the existence of free-will, a sense of profound possibility.
It’s this sense of profound possibility that comprises my present day definition of what it means for me to be religious. For, to believe in god as I conceive of the concept, is to believe in serendipity, in happy accidents, in the things my non-belief in (prior to learning of the Simulation Argument) had prevented me from experiencing. My atheism, my lack of faith in something beyond biological organisms, excluded the possibilities of me having a soul, of me having a rich inner world. When I was an atheist, my inner world was dead: it did not exist.
Nick Bostrom wasn’t the only individual who opened up the doors to my believing in a god. Around the same time I became interested in Bostrom’s work I began delving into the work of Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung, who believed that man needs religion, and the nature of the psyche is innately religious.
Jung had described my problem, prior to adopting a “religious outlook on life”: …Among all my patients in the second half of life — that is to say, over thirty-five — there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost what the living religions of every age have given their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook. This of course has nothing whatever to do with a particular creed or membership of a church.
It was the Simulation Argument, an argument for the possibility of intelligent design, which made it possible for me to adopt a religious outlook on life. Once I had done this, I could believe in what Jung coined “synchronicity”.
Jung’s concept of synchronicity is the idea of meaningful coincidences and the connection between psyche and matter (the inner and the outer world). Jung called it, “An acausal connecting principle.”
Without a religious outlook on life, such a thing would be mere superstition, rather than within the realm of reality, for a religious outlook gives one a grander sense of reality — a theosophy — a belief in mystical insight into our lives and our destinies; a belief in the power of our own intuition and our own intention.
Whatever we wish to call it, however we choose to describe it, it speaks of a coordinating agency of limitless scope and finite subtlety, whereby all the coincidences and connections of the world coalesce in a grand design, within which our dreams are possible (Provided humankind does not rob us of them ex: The Holocaust, wars, murder).
Seen this way, synchronicity, serendipity, kismet, chance, divine will, all present themselves within the people, messages, signs, and lessons we can find if we are looking for them; however, if we don’t believe in them: none are possible.
I come here to do ‘word-processing’, to let my thoughts congeal into coherence – whereafter, I will feel I have achieved something important (For I will have); where I once journaled in lengthy prose, my notebooks these days are filled with jottings – mostly single ideas of varying yet significant importance. That said, the important stuff always goes here – and it’s not that I come here, to this space, with pre-formed ideas: I come here with a bug, an itch to write; for without writing, a mind like mine would go to waste: I need to dump the data somewhere.
I haven’t written prose style, like this, in awhile. But, in my experience, the longer it has been, the more personally significant my writing seems to be.
A lot has transpired; however, the details are not important – the exterior things were mere events; borrowing the stoic maxim, we can be reminded that, it is not things, but our opinion of them that matters.
I understand I possess a big future: I know this from my dreams and plans – what I call my ‘sense of destiny’.
So, here I am to claim it, to follow the dictates of a clean, bright soul, and in doing so, to release myself from the animalistic darkside I’ve so long been owned by.
As the former-slave philosopher Epictetus reminds us, “No man is free who is not master of himself.”
Only, my previous attempts at self-mastery were too small-minded – I didn’t possess the requisite conception of myself needed to level-up; frankly, I lacked an endgame big enough for me to get the balls rolling.
Now I know what I am, what I am to be. And it’s nothing shallow – it’s a real valid purpose for a valid life.
Those smaller end-games I played before were never meant to be won: they were just data, experiences I needed to live in order to aggregate understanding. As is said, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
My teachers are those who show me how to care for myself, how to live in ways I never learned, how to love myself and others. And it’s working.
Before getting this far in life, I was closed – my brain, my emotions, my attitudes and judgements were all automatic: unconscious.
Through my recent experiences and interactions, I’ve gained the ability to truly look ahead – and not just three or five years, but fifteen and twenty.
But this is not as simple as just re-writing my instagram (@wolfwaldoblack) bio; as I have learned (and forgotten), the journey must be lived.
But what does it mean to “live the journey”?
Your mind, your heart, must be open. Trust you must (Yoda voice).
As Gary Vaynerchuck once said, “People are the people who are going to help you.”
It’s taken me thirty-two plus years to trust people – to not be blindly naive. For we must learn to be wise as serpents and innocent [harmless] as doves. This means listening to the heart’s intuitive intelligence (Thank you HeartMath Institute).
However, in order for us to be aligned within and without, we need to follow some guidelines:
We must trust ourselves abidingly: Listen to your inner voice, no matter how faint it is.
We must listen to our instincts about others – no matter how much we would like to believe otherwise. People, like life, are complex – don’t reduce them to simplicities.
We must maintain health: without proper sleep, diet, self-care, and exercise / activity, we are not fully alive. These things connect us to ourselves as much as their absence disconnects us from ourselves. Live well to be well. Drink lots of water, eat real food, and get plenty of sun. Health is the greatest single investment you can make.
We must live the journey: understanding is not something unlocked all at once and then laid to rest forever; it is our curiosities we must follow, trusting we have what it takes to get to the next level. Trust the journey, trust the process.
We mustn’t let our fears impede or direct us – fear is often just the unknown; however, life is change. In the words of Heraclitus, “No man steps in the same river twice.” Be comfortable with change – nothing to fear in growth (Movement towards freedom).
We mustn’t lose the plot – the story we have built around who we are. Know your worth, believe in yourself.
We must surround ourselves with persons we would like to be like – not with those whom we break our own sacred trust in ourselves to be with. Get cliqued up. Build your team, no matter how slowly. Surround yourselves with those you can trust.
We must be secure in ourselves – insecurity is a type of madness in which the human being is no longer on their own side. Feel good about who you are, and the life you are living.
Appearances matter – do not be insecure but don’t be the Big Lebowski. Take care your appearance, take pride in your image – it’s the thing people who don’t know you will judge you on first.
Have a routine: as much as you loathe this idea (Based on past “routines” – see Navy), you need to establish a routine in order to build habits. Habits are what are going to take you to the top. Design a routine around your goals.
Set goals, from as near as today, through as far as you can envision. Your goals today should be taking you toward your goals for someday.
Set your own limits. The system creates small minded thinkers, and most families unknowingly raise their children to be small minded. It’s a cycle you can break. Be determined to set your ow limits.
Do not be an island. Do not isolate from the world. If you need help, get it. Count on those in whom your heart trusts to help you.
Don’t accept bullshit. People will throw all kinds of shit your way, but only what you can take – the bullshit stops with healthy boundaries.
Know your goodness. You were not born in sin, you were born a baby, then you were a child. Do not forget the goodness in your childlike heart – it’s still there.
Be self-sufficient. It’s good to have a network, but do not expect other people to do your work for you – or even to show you how. You are capable. Do not ask of another what is yours to do. Be self-reliant.
Be aware of what you feed your brain. There’s a reason it’s called television “programming”. Also, don’t watch the news – as Peter Diamandis taught me, the news is designed to activate the fear center of the brain – the amygdala – creating an addiction. Instead, follow the people / organizations that resonate with you. Or just live and don’t follow anything at all.
Chill out / cut back on social media. Social media is the new collective consciousness. It worships shallow, vapid people, and it feeds into the cycle of insecurity so many people live in. Want fame on social media? Do shit. Write the books. As the ancient maxim goes, to be rather than to seem.
Be there for your family. They need you and you need them more than you know.
Be resilient: don’t let a long day or being tired drag you down into a funk.
Be patient. Patience will get you there. Patience is like a wise oracle – it trusts what only the mind can see, for now.
Have fun – this is maybe the most important one. In the words of Bob Marley, “Lively up yourself and don’t be no dread.” Never underestimate the power of positive emotions.
And, lastly, follow your heart. Explore what you are called to. For me it was / is books. Everything else came from there.
This list is by no means exhaustive – but it’s what I need right now. I now rejoin life with a heart that’s a bit more free and pure. And with that increased freedom, my imagination will soar – and with it, myself.
I awoke with a death sentence,
The convincing whispers of silence;
The exes I spent ten years with:
Fear nearly convinced me I wasn’t lovable / alive – (insert my life here)…
Shallow bitch named Daniella started a club (Broke my heart)
The precedence that it is okay to disown me, as one would a villian;
Shannon joined, naturally (Aye love)
Sarah may soon￼…(I can’t live lies)
Woe is exile from-self (Who am I.)
So I tried calling my Mom,
But choked-back with tears,
I hung up –
If this all makes me an animal,
Come fuck me, I like it;
For I live on darkside,
Where I’m already dead to you too
Erich Fromm told us we wouldn’t be slaves one day,
Our own masters
For this is the common disaster:
￼A life that feels like a bad Netflix movie,
Where all the characters are spoiled and insignificant and unhappy,
Like you and me…
“What’s life about?,
You ever ask yourself that?”
My dad used to say that to me,
And I thought he was crazy,
But now I see,
He wasn’t in earnest asking me,
But holding up the question,
As a kind of lesson,
In how to save myself
My dad taught me how to ask, What’s life about?
Because when I’m lost, I know it can’t be this;
My will is my life,
I cant be apathetic –
My childhood –
I cant be undecided,
Inner and outer divided
So please put the batteries back in your boyfriend,
I am not your automaton.
Spent the day reading Erich Fromm’s, Beyond the Chains of Illusion – probably one of the more important reads I’ve enjoyed in a while – one of those “right of passage” books you happen across right when you need it – just like finding the precious amulet or map in a video game.
Only, this treasure came from my bookshelf.
It took about a minute to pick it out, having decided to read something while Sarah hiked in the woods with her dad with this a.m. Frankly, I was in a mood – I was already committed to working over the weekend, despite having a guest in town, and, what’s more, my hard-drive failed last night.
The hard-drive failure felt like some sort of techno-biological psychosomatic symptom, as if it were my machine’s way of telling me: fuck you, enough. Only, that’s not the case – this is the case:
Literally, my laptop case.
The wear and tear you see above is from work – it’s from my wrists sliding along the laptop over thousands of hours. Of course, if this patina were from writing fiction rather than countless lines of code, it would be cool (Rather than kind of sad).
That said, working as a freelance front-end developer is NOT cool. I loathe to go into a long discussion about why, but, suffice to say, insane hours, constant deadlines, high-burnout, and a market full of the lowest-bidders makes for a pretty miserable “career”.
Of course, writing is my career – but, to borrow the words of my late father: money is a motherfucker.
Ironically, my father did essentially the same thing I do “for a living”; I googled him recently and came across his linkedin profile, which, reads almost exactly as my own did (Before I deleted mine in the interest of my writing).
My father died nearly blind from staring at a screen for years, and – it might be said – penniless from the same.
I recall a line from a Kerouac interview in The Paris Review, in which he said, “All writers have tragic fathers.” I’m not calling my father tragic per se, so much as I’m saying that my following in his footsteps is.
If I had a magic wand, the bills would all be paid some other way, and I would do nothing that didn’t contribute to my wholeness; unfortunately, I am not in that position – I’ve got an insane amount of work to do, and doing it is only going to pay the bills, maybe give me a few hours to spend with holiday houseguests this week. In short, my life is pretty owned by obligation.
It was to that end that Sarah and I moved to the mountains: that’s the thing about living at 7,500 feet – there aren’t many well-paying jobs, which makes things much more affordable than in the city, where average incomes are much higher.
That said, if you work remotely and are sufficiently introverted and or private, it’s – in my opinion – a far more fulfilling way of life compared to city living (Particularly if you are living in a big city beneath the upper-middle class level).
The mountains aren’t the problem. We love it here. Our house is a paradise, and I would be hard pressed to find something more affordable; however, front-end web development doesn’t pay well enough for me to work part-time, particularly as Sarah isn’t working at present – as I said, obligation.
I worked twenty-six hours straight last week attempting to meet a deadline. Add that to everything explained above, and you can get a slight picture of the existential demands on my life at thirty-two. Couple that with two novellas in prog and enough novels in my head for ten years of HBO money, and you can understand pretty much the whole picture.
Money is a motherfucker. But, it’s not money I’m after: it’s freedom.
Frankly, my situation isn’t all that unique – the struggling artist is a reality – what I’m banking on is my talent being unique.
It may take ten years, but I know it doesn’t have to.
Yes, my week is fucked work-wise, but my life isn’t. And November may be difficult, and December may not be easy, but I WILL GET THERE.
The thing is, I have to write this, to live this – to get there. And there isn’t anywhere but where I can write.
But to get there, I have to look life in the face. I have to reconcile the outer and the inner realities of myself in order to pierce the fictions of my thinking and uncover the unconscious contents driving the illusions that paralyze and enslave me. I have to face it all to destroy the idea that I am trapped. Then, I’ll be free.
Now that it’s all been put down, I can let it go, safe in the knowledge that everything that is, can be everything that was.
Draining daylight hours,
Woe is man by ways and means –
But after my twenties, a stable life is a must for me…
So here I’ll be,
Letting the fruit flies enjoy the bananas for the night,
High as a kite,
Eating way too late.