Category Archives: Creativity

Being Playful

You want to go swing on the swings?
How about hang on the monkey bars?
No, then perhaps a nice game of four square will do the trick?

If you’re above the age of twelve these sound like ludicrous invitations. Yet the feeling that they can awaken within you – that feeling is anything but ludicrous. It is one of the great joys of living. I’m talking of course, about being playful.

In response to such a statement, some people might say, “what are you, ten years old?” By that they would mean that such things are childish. And the implication is that childish things have no place in the adult world where people get things done. Look no further than this bible quote:

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” – Corinthians 13:11

I agree that people should not shove each other, that they should share, and that they should not make messes that they don’t clean up. Playing, though, is something completely different. While playing is something you do as a child, it is not childish in the negative sense. In fact, playing is something that allows you to regain the innocence of childhood that so many people desperately seek. As odd as it sounds, playing can immensely increase your quality of life.

So now you’ve probably picked up some jacks and called your best friends to come over. While that’s all well and good (but slightly weird really) I’m not encouraging you to just engage in the act of playing, I’m encouraging you to become more playful in general.

What does that mean?

Like many things you want to change in your life, you would best be served by changing yourself first. Or a better way to look at it is, finding that part of yourself that already exists. So instead of thinking in terms of finding discrete external events in which you can engage in the act of playing, thinking of awakening that quality of playfulness itself.

This way you can be playful without needing external stimulus to do so. And this way you can be playful as often as you want in any situation. Really, being playful is beneficial in almost any situation. Perhaps not at a funeral, or when you’re being given a ticket by a police officer. Maybe not if you’re holding your friend as he dies on the battlefield. These are extreme examples, but I use them to show that more often than not you aren’t experiencing extenuating circumstances like this. But if there were a way for me to just take a reading of the subjective experience of the emotions in your brain while you were just going through normal parts of your life, I might think you were going through some grave circumstances. As the Joker would say, “Why so serious?” Playfulness allows you to regain the perspective that, all in all, things are pretty good in your life and on planet earth.

What is playfulness?

It is a quality of perceiving everything that happens in a way that is playful.

That doesn’t really say much does it?

If you were to dissect playfulness, what would be its core components? Put it another way, think of someone you know who is playful. What qualities does this person exhibit? What qualities do you exhibit when you find yourself in a silly mood?

What comes to mind for me is a lightness of heart, a feeling of engagement, and certain kind of connection. Perhaps even a certain exuberance. Think of a cat, chasing a string. Whether or not the cat knows its playing is up for debate, but the fact is that a cat acts very differently when a string is moving across their field of vision. A cat at rest might be laying down, grooming itself, sniffing around, or meowing incessantly. A cat at play however is bounding across the room, running into things, leaping and pawing, all after that elusive string. A cat puts the whole of their being into play. If the quality of seriousness is defined by how much of your attention is fixed on the object that you want to find you serious, playing is as serious as it gets.

Whether or not you identify yourself with cat-like attributes (I resoundingly do), the fact is you have a number of psychological and physiological changes that come when you shift into playing. They aren’t as pronounced to you as as an excited cat, but to the rest of the world they are. Playfulness is one of the key qualities that makes a person intensely magnetic. Because we all, at heart, want to be playful all the time. Adults envy children for their ability to see the world with such wonder. But this way of seeing the world is simply a devalued perspective in the larger societal messages we receive. It’s not actually impossible to regain, like some long lost friend. Yet many people think it is, because they are taught to believe it.

This is paradoxical, because while we’re taught to be serious and make something of ourselves, when we play we’re rewarded with better connections, more friends, and a much more positive and engaged outlook on life. If you consider the difference between these two ways of being, the serious way sounds insane.

So, when playing, you view things as less serious than you otherwise might, but you also engage more of your brain when interacting with the environment and in doing so, develop a much richer connection to whatever you’re playing with.

Myths of being playful

People will not respect you if you play too much.

This is completely untrue. When people want to be respected, they focus on developing confidence. But confidence by itself borders on arrogance which telegraphs to everyone an extreme lack of confidence. Have you ever heard someone say “that person is compensating for something”? While the saying refers to them having a shorter than average disco stick, the implication is that having this would cause them to have a dearth of confidence. Confidence itself is good, but what is it that confidence allows you to do?

Not be so serious.

When you’re confident a situation is going to go your way, you relax. And you might think that this was the exact cause and effect between these two events. The reality may be that the very act of relaxing causes the situation to go the way you want it to. Relaxing is just one of the many things that happens when you start being playful.

So a person who is in complete control exhibits many of the characteristics of a playful person. They are relaxed, less serious, less rigidly focused. And if you think of someone like this, what sort of feeling do you have towards them? For me, I have immense respect for people who shoulders immense burdens and stress and yet treats those situations with levity. A person who can remain playful even if things aren’t going their way. That’s the kind of person I want to be around if the world ever goes in to nuclear apocalypse. I don’t want to be around a bunch of glum uninteresting people who just want to survive. In fact, what are we doing this surviving stuff for, if not to enjoy life?

The point is that being playful generates all of the things that a person who feels powerless might like to feel. Things like confidence, respect, joy, connection, etc. And because so few people remember to be playful or forget it entirely, you stand out much more than the most authoritarian dictator. A person who can play has a foundation of a true leader.

You will lose control of your life if you don’t treat things seriously.

This is also not true. Think of when you’re actually playing something. I know it might have been a while, but can you remember a time you royally failed at whatever you were trying to do? Maybe you completely threw the basketball over the hoop. Maybe you drove that golf ball into a nearby house. What was going through your mind before this happened? I’m willing to bet it was something like “ok I’ve just got to focus here.” Something a serious parent might tell you. Then you froze up and failed to execute the thing the way you wanted to.

Contrast this with a time where you felt effortlessly good at something, the much coveted zone. What were you thinking about in that moment? Many people in this flow claim to not be thinking at all, but express more of a state of total experience of the now. This is a very attractive state to be in and it causes you to loosen up, be dynamic, think of ways of doing things you might not otherwise consider, and do this all at rapid pace and with perfect rhythm. Playing with your life in every way can make this phenomenon extend to anywhere. Is there anywhere in your life you think you might benefit from being more playful?

If you’re too playful you’ll lose focus.

First of all, that’s wrong. Second of all, this is really just fear of lack of control all over again. Third of all, what sort of focus are you talking about? The strained focus of which I’m speaking is one where you concentrate really hard on solving a problem or taking care of a situation. This only uses your conscious mind and takes up all of its available RAM. Playing, however, is much more deeply ingrained in evolutionary biology. People have played for centuries before they had to do their taxes. While its not good in many situations to default to a more primitive brain, the fact is that playing actually increases your focus. Not just the intensity of your focus but the amount that you’re able to focus on at once. So instead of laser focusing, you are focusing as the sun does on the earth. You are taking in far more stimulus at once when your’e loose and playful and you open up to more creative solutions to every problem. Playing engages you in a dynamic relationship with your environment. Living then, can become a dance.

How do you become more playful?

I said before that you should focus not on playing but on being playful. But how do you get there?

As loose as it feels to do, being playful does involve a structure. It involves either a goal, roleplaying, friendly competition, misdirection, or a combination of all of these things. Lets take the example something people do all the time to abstract the pattern that can then be applied universally.

What is the difference between running back and forth across a field repeatedly and playing ultimate frisbee? Well there’s a frisbee yes. So what is the difference between running back and forth and throwing a frisbee and playing ultimate frisbee? I find the latter far more engaging because there is a goal and rules. Being playful in conversation is very similar. When you make it like a game – how can I make this person laugh? How can we connect? How can I get them to experience positive emotions? How can I learn more about them? Now there is a goal. Now you can play in the field of conversation with the goal of getting to know them. Now it’s not about you at all. It’s about the act of playing and the quality of being playful. That is an end in itself.

Playfulness doesn’t just manifest as a game, but as a fun way of pretending your intentions are different than they are. One of the things i like to do to lighten up an interaction is to playfully misdirect someone. You may remember a time when you felt made fun of or made to feel gullible and found that negative. The difference here is your intention. The good intention to have is that you simply want to have fun. The bad intention to have is that you want to get something – particularly validation for your brilliant sense of humor or something like that. A person who feels hurt because you went too far is not going to indulge your ego.

If you can’t conceive of making this shift, you might have to first engage in playful activities in order to awaken that part of your brain again. This is always a good thing. You can’t play enough in your life. So, start playing. What do you love to do? For me it’s ultimate frisbee. Go wild, but now your opportunity is to recognize when you are playing and observe that quality independently of your activity. That quality is part of you and can be accessed at any time.

Then you can move on to engaging with people you already like to engage with in a more playful way. Ask yourself, “How can I make this interaction more playful?” “How can I playfully jab them or playfully misdirect them for humourous effect?” Playing with people is a two way street. If someone senses that you are playing, they should play back. If they don’t play back, then it’s nothing about you. Remember, society stopped encouraging everyone to have recess a long time ago.

When you do engage someone in a playful way, often times it lights them up, as it would a cat with a string. Now you’re off to the races. The content of what you’re doing doesn’t matter, but playing allows you to open up a connection with the other person that goes beyond words. This is useful in every aspect of life, from the most mundane to the most romantic. With people you know though, it’s a safe activity. You don’t have to worry about going too far. Someone you already have a lasting relationship with will forgive you. Especially if playing is not your modus operandi, people will allow you to do so since its an attractive quality. They may even, gasp, like being around you more.

The final step is to play with people you don’t know. The thing is, when people play, they usually only play with someone who has a common ground or someone they know really well. So when they do play, they assume that they must know this person really well. Playing is a way to connect with people effectively and quickly. It is used by all the best communicators as a way to not just break the ice, but to melt it.

You can then consciously access this way of being any time you want, using anchoring and NLP. If you don’t know how to do that or if you’re still too afraid, a good way to transition from playing with just your friends to everyone is to engage a playful group of people you already know in the context of a larger social situation, like a party or a bar. That way the vibe will be already playful and you’ll have backup if your invitations to play do not go as planned. As it was in the schoolyard, some people just don’t want to play.

At some point, you will realize that playing can be an entire lifestyle. It’s not just that you play, it’s that you move through the world in that mindset. I guarantee doing this alone will make a positive impact on your social life, your work, and your passions. You may find things that you used to think were drudgery taking on a different quality altogether. You may find you’re invited to more social engagements because people just love being around your kind of energy. You may find yourself less stressed out more of the time.

Or you may not. But there’s only one way to find out.

Many people have compared life to a game. If that is true, how often do you spend playing it?

How Video Game Properties will Take over the Movie Industry

Bob Chipman, writer for the Escapist, believes that Scott Pilgrim is a Game changer for the industry. Not because of its merit or money, but because it uses video game tropes to inject new life into tired narrative cliches. The example he uses is how a 1up becomes the modern retelling of an age old narrative rebirth cycle that started in narrative form with jesus himself.

And I believe that not only is he right, but that this is part of a much bigger trend.

The Search for The Magic Formula

To paraphrase Inception, an idea is the most persistent virus in the world. Ideas began every movie that any of us have seen, and ideas (even in this faschist remake obsessed movie culture we live in) will ultimate reign supreme, not popularity or box office. Annie Hall, a movie that began many ideas like breaking the 4th wall, didn’t make much money. Sure it won an Oscar, but are movies taking notes from A Beautiful Mind? No.

Here’s what I think is going on long term.

When it comes to movies, the people with the money are trying (and have been trying) to make videogames the new comic books for a long time. What I mean by that is they are optioning video game properties in wait for that opportune time when videogames become truly mainstream in cinema. And when they do, every single game worth knowing about will be made into a movie. This is obvious.

But they haven’t hit that point yet. Why? Because the people making the movies (not just the creative people) are trying to find that magic formula. You can argue that the formula hasn’t been found for comic book movies either, but based on the sheer amount of resources devoted to finding that magic formula, comic books have become the number one industry in Hollywood. But this can’t go on forever, can it? What I mean is that the fever pitch of comic book movie making can’t possible sustain itself. So what’s next?

An idea, a true game changer, only needs to find the right person to realize it. It doesn’t matter where that idea comes from. Hollywood understands this. One only need look back to the bidding war over El Mariachi for evidence of that.

But right now they are looking for the magic formula. They seem to think it’s talent + money + adaption of creative work in a different medium = good (a.k.a profitable) movie. Hey, it worked for the Dark Knight right? (I’ll concede Superman Returns on this one. Luck plays a huge factor in moviemaking.) Hell it even worked for a theme park ride! So obviously, it’ll work just fine for adapting a video game property. Like say, Prince of Persia? That can’t lose. Talent behind Harry Potter ($$$) + established property (aka creatively ripped off from mythology) + more $$$ = “eh.”

Why is it so, “eh?”

The Problem

The problem is that comic books/novels/theme park rides and movies have linearity and lack of interaction in common. This is huge. Adapting one to the other is sometimes as easy as cut and paste. Videogames on the other hand, while looking similar (similar enough to attract the $$) are a completely different beast that eats this whole easy formula alive.

And generally people enjoy each medium, but no one equates them. Ebert claims that games are not art. While that’s up for debate, the more cinematic a game gets the more boring (or skippable) it generally gets. And the more game-like a movie gets the more ludicrous it becomes. If you haven’t yet, watch the 1st person action scene in Doom.

Let’s take an example: Final Fantasy the Spirits Within. This was an absolute sure bet. A game that sold millions coming to your theatre for you to watch in all its “photorealistic” glory. Yet in translation they ditched everything that was remarkable about the game and replaced the plot with an Aliens ripoff. This made neither a good movie or game-like experience, and ended up pissing off both audiences. The Square Hollywood division promptly folded and now lives vicariously through the insane amount of cutscenes in FF13.

A Paradox

Here’s the real problem – in adapting video games, movies in the past have lost the very magic that made them so beloved in the first place. Yahtzee made that point. Really videogame narratives have always been totally incomprehensible or forgettable knockoffs of movies, so obviously adapting the narrative of a video game is a dead end.

The Missing Part of the Formula is in Scott Pilgrim

What Bob Chipman pointed out and Scott Pilgrim does right is it adapts the style and tropes of a video game to tell a compelling story, and it’s not even a video game adaption. Why is Avatar the highest grossing film of all time? It’s not hard to see how videogame are conceptually linked to that movie. Videogames have embedded themselves so deeply in culture that the time is ripe for a golden age of video game movies.

It’s only a matter of time before this kernel of an idea gets in the right hands of a director on a hot game property with money behind them. And I for one, can’t wait. And not just because I’m sick of comic book movies.

3 Ways to Improve Creative Writing

Creative writing often seems like a big bad task that’s impossible to scale. Especially if you have ambitions to “be a writer” (whatever that means), you may sit down and get the chills when facing a blank screen, thinking about doing something – anything else.

Creative writing can be whatever you want it to be, and in general I like the things I do to be rewarding, be relatively simple, and create meaning in my life.

Sound good? Here are three simple ways to face down the fear of that abyss of unblinking whiteness and let your creative juices flow…

1. Create More Clarity

Often times when I’m in what my girlfriend calls “thinking mode” – a semi-present state where you can literally see the steam coming from the gears turning in my brain – I’m high on the inspiration and low on the specifics.

High inspiration = “I’ll make a low budget movie underwater! How often has that happened? This is gonna be so great. I’ll set myself apart on youtube, use tried and true love stories in 5 minute clips (to appeal to the lowest common denominator) and market it as and then I’ll be rich!”

Low specifics = “Umm, what kind of camera, how am I going to get people to be underwater with me, how can I improve visibility underwater, will I need lights, what exactly is my motivation (besides money) for doing this anyway?”

While something is kicking around in my brain causing a pleasing friction it can seem perfect, limitless, amazing. However, it can seem really fuzzy. Once I commit it to paper then I have to create it within the guidelines of the external world. All of a sudden really obvious questions come up.

How long is the project? What format to shoot it on? What kind of stories do I want to tell? Is the domain available? Is it really the best domain name for this kind of movie? Does the concept hold water? (Pun #1!)

While you might think about a concept all day, 5 minutes of writing out why you want to do it, the pros and cons, and a rough outline of how you might achieve it (or even what exactly is meaningful to you) can give you a fair assessment of the ideas value, both to you and your potential audience (even if that’s again, you.)

Once you get it all out on paper, you also clear up the brain space to remember groceries, your doctor’s visit and other annoying real world logistical stuff.

2. Write for New Insight

Writing isn’t just about recording information that’s in your brain. Like when you use your friend as a sounding board, writing can create new offshoots or interesting revisions of your original idea. Whether you’re writing a to do list or your life’s magnum opus, all writing is creative, not just transcriptive.

Not to sound schizophrenic, but it’s like having another persons’ input.

Try this. Take some idea that’s been kicking around in your head for a while but you haven’t written about. Try to write it down every part of it (doesn’t have to be much) that you’re thinking about as closely as possible to what the thought process is like.

Your novel about super intelligent cats? The writing might go something like this:

Cats that can talk and organize into groups.

Cats persuading the animal shelter not to take them.

Cats running for mayor.

But yet as you write you think, hmm, what about dogs? In your mind, you didn’t even think that, but that becomes the obvious question to you. Maybe dogs are super intelligent too? What if the novel was from alternating perspectives of feline and canine? Maybe you like it better if it’s ferrets? Maybe you think of a great band called the Ferrets of Funk?

A simple writing exercise like this can help deepen the idea that otherwise would stay shallow in your brain.

3. Cheap Therapy

There’s a reason almost every self help method out there includes the process of journaling, or writing out how you feel about a certain subject whether it be the day, how often you think about when your goldfish died, or that cute girl in class. The reason is that writing gives voice to the things you care about most deeply in life, simultaneously validating you and allowing you to let those feelings flow out of you.

And best of all, you don’t have to pay a hundred bucks an hour or stare at your shrink’s unattractive mole.

You may be saying to yourself, “whoa this isn’t creative writing. I didn’t read this post to explore my deep throbbing emotional wounds.”

But here’s the thing, your deep throbbing emotional wounds are the source of your creativity, not the blocker of it. In fact, writer’s block appears when you stay in the “safe” writing zone too long.

So with all this writing, aren’t you itching to put a pen to the paper or a finger to the keys?

How do you get the juices flowing?

P.S. This is my absolute favorite book on writing. It’s not like many how to books where there is a formula to follow, but it conjures the feeling of being in the warm presence of a great mentor who wants more than anything for you to express your wonderful unique voice.

A Tale of Your Expanded Self

As I move through Phase 2 I find my persona frequently questioning my expanded self. This is old game of “I’m a victim to a higher power” in shiny new clothes. Thoughts go along with this game such as “I want x but god wants me to do y.” When the Higher-Forces-Beyond-My-Control Game pops into my hologram I always want to know what my expanded self is thinking. Well, today I’m asking them to type through me to tell you their story.

Which is actually your story. Of course I must type using metaphors and the constructs of our language.

Imagine with me the you before you, before me, before time, space, love, chaos, and the greatest game ever played. Take a little peek into what’s going on behind the scenes of your perfect hologram…

In the Beginning

You are.

You exist, but nothing exists apart from you. Complete in your utter beauty you encompass all that is, all that ever will be. Shining brilliantly before sight, and singing an orgasmic melody before sound your power swirls brilliantly throughout all of you. Pulsating, exploding, imploding, you are nothing and everything. You are the smallest quantum before the universe is born and everything beyond death and an eternal void.

In your infinite certainty and beauty you create something that seems to exist apart from you – a world of stars and planets moving brilliantly and seeming autonomously. Within this soup of creation bursts forth violent life smoothly into a gorgeous charade. In the same dance flows time – a medium through which all your disguised magnificence is organized.

You are everywhere and everytime but you find a compelling fascination through viewing your disguised creation inside time. In this new frightening kind of consciousness your creations seem to change over time. And you begin to play, to create the language for the greatest story ever told.

You decide that contrast is an incredible way to experience your disguised consciousness. In a moment you see light and dark, sound and silence, mass and space, the infinite and the finite. You see dust here, and color there. The world comes into a new kind of clarity only accomplished through you beginning to limit your knowledge.

You keep limiting your disguised consciousness. You create gravity, civilization, life, death, sadness, and joy. How wonderful it all is. In the ecstasy of consciousness you view dreamworlds of infinite stories and possibilities.

Now you skip through each, feeling a sort of presence of realness, but never fully losing yourself to it. You see from a third person omniscience all that occurs in eternity, but as you become more enamored with this amazing game, you become deeply in love with the purity of limitation.

“What must it feel like when you are certain of death?”
“What must it feel like to lose and gain?”
“What magnificence must it be to feel created by an alien world, subject to forces beyond your control?”
“What intoxication must it be to be in love and believe that it’s the most precious thing in all of existence?”

“What is it like to be human?

Inside this new consciousness where things burn and fade, where it dawns every day, you begin to lose yourself. But this can’t be the greatest story ever told.

Not unless you live it.

And for you to live, to truly live, you have to forget everything. You are so powerful that you know your all consuming power cannot lay dormant forever. But out of a place of immense joy, you create the great unknown and take a dive straight into its beating heart.

You know that this will be the most enthralling experience of all. But what brings to a new kind joy, is you know that you won’t know anything at all. In fact you know you can’t seem to know, but you know that your unending knowing will come in the form of “learning” the truth in your new world. Through contrast the bright beam of truth will be obscured by a fog of adventure, pain, and bliss. And you will love every minute of it – especially those when you really forget and believe this one specific dream world is all that there is. You are giddy in anticipation.

Inside time consciousness you consider all of these things and then one day comes and you leave this consciousness and create a new deeper one. You are birthed into the terrifying and beautiful world. You know nothing. You start completely over. You have five senses, all undeveloped. There are so many things to learn, to comprehend. There is language, color, laughter, music, emotion, and love – unfiltered love like you’ve never experienced. As you pass from the world of all knowing into the world of ignorance, the first sensation of being truly alive is the complete answer to the every iteration of the question “why?” you will ever experience. As truth slips away into the shadows of this world a satisfaction comes over you that no matter what seems to happen, it will all be worth it.

And as you walk through this immensely real dream world your certainty fades only to be replaced by the greatest story ever told. Then one day comes when you begin to remember – and slowly but surely the dream begins to dissolve. Only now can you feel the most amazing experience yet in consciousness – separation. Inside consciousness you create a black hole, a place where grace seems to end. Where you as a lone persona feel truly abandoned, left to fend for yourself.

But the greatest experience yet is next. Inside the maelstrom of chaos glows a glimmer of the truth. Inside this truth lies all of your consciousness which slowly trickles out to you in the form of lies, pain, love, forgiveness, and transcendence.

In the form of books that initially look like scams, artistic failures, friendships that stay and go, irritations, sex, faulty internet-connections, body image issues, ever present hunger, unrequited love, scintillating intelligence, engrossing conversations, pressing a pen against a flat sheet of processed wood, money and value, helicopters crashing into planes, chronic wrist pain, and earth shaking awe.

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. The moment of remembering. You can’t wait to turn the page.

“Funny People”: Why the Hologram Feels so Real

How can something feel so real and so fake at the same time?
How can something feel so real and so fake at the same time?

You may be asking – what does a shallow comedy have to do with spirituality?

Funny People is about as shallow as the continental shelf and for me the experience of watching it was like a guided tour of the creation of the hologram. For you non-busters, this means that the attention to detail in both its fictional world and it’s honesty of emotion is staggering.

Both groups will enjoy Anthony DellaFlora’s article on the intersection of comedy and spirituality The Zen of Seinfeld.

You should know that I have a bias. I have a B.A. in Film and Digital theory the majority of which was earned by analyzing films. The upside of this is now when I watch movies it becomes a four-dimensional experience. No I don’t go back in time, but I watch much more than the movie itself. Even while I’m engrossed in the story, I think about and analyze the cinematography, the direction, the locations, the script process, the sound design, the editing, the 2nd unit work (stunts and location-only shots). It’s like having a making-of documentary simultaneously piped into my brain at the same time as watching the movie.

You may think that this kind of critical thinking would detract from my pure enjoyment, but on the contrary, it greatly enhances it. Having made a film, I’m in awe of how much work must have gone into every little piece. How difficult it was for them to find that perfect extra to walk by the background of the shot at just the right moment. Or how much work went in to planning a piece of dialogue that reveals a nuance of a character. So when a film is good or great, it becomes a truly transcendental experience.

Are you seeing the corollary to busting loose yet? No?

Ok, so maybe you’re not me. Maybe you watch films for the pure escapism of it or maybe you don’t even think about all of the rigorously planned elements that go into a movie that make it feel like it was meant to be that way. The funny thing about Funny People is that it makes you have that kind of experience no matter what kind of person you are.

Putting busting loose aside for a second, what is the difference between the narrative of “movies” and “real life.”?

1. Movies have characters you can root for and neatly wrapped endings whereas life is full of ambivalence and non resolution.

These characters are credibly unsympathetic and they experience very little personal transformation.

2. Movies take place in a fictional universe with fictional characters.

This takes place in L.A. with characters who are only fictional because their name is different than in real life. E.G.

Adam Sandler plays a rich comedian turned movie star who makes shallow family movies.

Seth Rogen plays a young comedian taken under the wing of Sandler (in real life just the same happened with him and director Judd Apatow)

Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) plays the mother of two who are actually her kids in real life. At multiple times during the movie, we watch old real clips of all of these actors in the context of their characters’ stories.

Not to mention all these actors (featured on the poster) are or could be considered “funny people.” At this point the line between fiction and reality really begins to blur.

3. Comedies especially have contrived situations with formulaic structures.

Most of the time you’re watching brutally honest performances in normal life situations while the movie merely threatens to have a plot:

Is it about a young comedian starting his career?

Is it about an old comedian dealing with impending death?

Is it about a couple trying to rekindle an old flame?

Is this not starting to seem like real life?

I dare you to watch this movie and not think of the elaborately constructed world inside the movie or the elaborately constructed world outside the movie theater. This movie continues to capture real human experience to a frightening degree while also calling attention to the fact that it’s not real.

So what’s the point?

If you’ve ever believed that life was an illusion, most likely your brain or one of your five senses brought you back into believing it was real. Maybe you felt fear that you wouldn’t have enough money to live or joy from getting promoted. Maybe you stubbed your toe. Maybe you got rejected by that person you really wanted to know more about.

Like swing dancing, dating, and tug of war, awakening from your state of living dreaming is a push-pull process.

If you were to pose the question of “why make the movie feel so real?” to Judd Apatow, he would probably answer “to make the illusion better.” And then ask him “why make the illusion better?” he would answer “to make the emotional experience of the movie more real.” This could go on forever…

Modern day Hollywood  is one of the greatest manifestations of an illusion making machine that we have in our experience. It is one of the greatest “clues” to what’s really going on. So much money, time, effort, and energy is put into such complex illusions to make them feel “real.” Robert Scheinfeld even equates living to being in a “full-immersion movie.”

And that requires being fully immersed. Which means coming up for air only so often to see the truth. So now that you can’t see which way is up, is the awakening that you experience when you do the process another, deeper illusion?

Is it the honesty and truth poking through the artifice? Or is the honesty and truth you feel right now just an illusion itself? For the record, I believe that it is real truth poking through the cloud cover. I believe the hologram pulls you further towards immersion in order to further convince you of the truth. Every time I experience transcendence or the truth, it’s not long for the hologram to do its darndest to convince me that it’s real again. In one moment I see the Matrix and in the next I’m paying taxes. Then I realize the taxes are an illusion, but then I have a flat tire.  How far can this rabbit hole go?

Like watching Funny People, I think busting loose includes a happy coexistence of the illusion and the truth – one where each illuminates the other.

What do you “think”?

Digital Art: Quantum Disintegrating Clock

Time is just another part of the hologram.
Time is just another part of the hologram.

Featured in the article Bust Loose with the Power of Now

Think about just how much of your life is run by time. You may have to work at a specific time. You definitely have to go the bank at a specific time. You may be able to go to the beach during specific seasons. Generally, you probably don’t like being late, but early is not much better.

And if you’re in school forget it. Schedules, semesters, quarters, homework, deadlines – all revolving around something that doesn’t really exist.

This was a relatively quick drawing and I actually did it without the wacom tablet. It conveys the ephemeral nature of time, yet the presence of an alarm clock in the picture is enough to still bring discomfort (atleast to me!)

How I did it

  1. I downloaded a royalty free stock photo from Stock.XCHNGE. I was just going to use that, but why when I can vandalize it and make it art?
  2. I loaded up GIMP and proceeded to use the smudge tool liberally (read: far too much) all over it. To give the illusion of the clock fading away, I managed to smudge both away from the clock and from the whitespace into the clock. This gave the look of “streams” of the clock fading off into the ether.
  3. Then to make it a little more fantastical I changed the hue and upped the saturation. Since it was such a monochromatic image the filters only really affected the hands of the clock (which became a nice icy blue) and some of the lighting around the rims.
  4. I color picked the yellow from the rims of the clock and applied the galaxy preset on the paint brush to give the effect of “pixie dust.”
  5. Another round of smudging and we have ourselves a quantum disintegrating  clock!

Busting Loose from the Writing Game

Just a couple months ago I read Robert Scheinfeld’s fantastic Busting Loose from the Money Game which opened me up to a completely different approach to metaphysics, law of attraction, and the realization of worldly dreams. Furthermore, it has proved itself to be the correct one for me. And while I have long wished to write about the gaps that seem to present themselves in every self help or manifesting method, and seek to fill those gaps, it’s really this book, this philosophy, this reality shattering understanding, that inspired me to write this blog in the first place.

I originally created this blog to provide value to those who have and haven’t read Robert Scheinfeld’s book and I believe that will still hold true, but this intention was misappropriately applied. The result ended up being watered-down articles that intentionally withheld information about the busting loose process in effort to cater to a wider audience that may see Scheinfeld’s assertions as too radical.

Quickly, doing this froze up my own creative process, since I found myself marginalizing the very real and very important Phase 2 journey into it’s own insulated category, scarcely referencing this inherently interconnected sequence of realizations in other articles and thus rendering all other advice to be useless, especially for those looking for more information about busting loose.

This is like reading a book to a classroom while intentionally not reading every fourth page and expecting those in the class to understand the story and receive value from it.

So from now on the focus of this blog will be the Phase 2 Journey, practical applications of the process, and every effort to help others bust loose while doing so myself. The subjects will still be as – if not more – wide ranging.

This is very exciting. In doing this I’ve busted loose from own writing game, and it is my intention that you will receive genuine value from all articles to come.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love LSD

I’ve always had an affinity for LSD. It’s by far my favorite of hallucinogenic drugs, mostly for its feeling of temporary enlightenment. I think of it as sort of a Chance Card that advances you directly to the Park Place of spirituality. Where the fountains shimmer and the pillows are oh so fluffy. The only con is you may end up not passing go and going directly to jail or mortgaging your brain.

Luckily I have only used these tools for good, and thus even bad trips have been incredible learning experiences. Instead of a Zen Koan, Buddha should have just dropped a couple tabs on those disciples.

General Effects

LSD’s universal effects are a temporary altered state of greater interconnectedness and a feeling of great clarity. The visuals are the most immediately noticeable effect. The best way to describe them is a fractalization of reality. The longer one focuses on an image in their vision, the more complex that image becomes. The image keeps on breaking up into to more and more pieces and the idea keeps being more connective, eventually connecting to all things. Depending on how much acid one takes, vision becomes fluid and merges with consciousness. In fact, fractilazation happens in consciousness exactly parallel to its happening in sight. This will result in a phenomenon like the following:

I see a tree. Immediately the form of the tree starts shifting, barely discernable at first. “Maybe it’s just the wind… “ Then it continues shifting, possibly becoming more expansive in my vision, or possibly feeling like it’s composed of a million pieces and a verdant whole at the same time (parallel and paradoxical ideas are par for the course in an acid trip) At the same time thoughts about the tree might flow like, “Wow, that tree is more amazing right now.” “Trees are fantastic and they cover the Earth.” “It’s almost like the Earth is giving love to the sky with the trees.” “This tree has a soul and I can feel it.” At this point I might feel the physical warmth of the tree, especially if I touch it. I might feel my hand merging with the tree and see the world in slow motion. I might see visions of the ancient world where vegetation ruled. “Trees are consciousness just like me, but they exist in a different time dimensions.” “Maybe other people exist in different time dimensions…” and so on.

All of this is happening without great effort. This is also based on the fact that I have a predisposition to love trees. Your trip would be obviously different, but expansion in vision, clarity, awareness, and your consciousness would be a dominant theme.

The Journey

Once expansion in both realms of vision and thought reaches a critical mass, then the lines between them begin to blur. You start to not know if you’re seeing what you’re thinking or if you’re thinking what you’re seeing. Reality becomes a wondrous feedback loop where every new thought is inspiration and every new vision is enchanting. Similar to the idea of the intelligent field supported by quantum physics, reality becomes malleable moment to moment. But the shift is no longer smoothed over by your conscious mind – the building blocks of our universe seem to lay naked in all their glory.

This feedback loop is intensified and made more glorious with other people. Acid synchronizes minds of those who take it together, where they feel into each other and often talk for long periods of time about the same thing just for the sheer joy of talking about it. Often times simply uttering a word opens a vision and a shared hallucination where they cocreate imaginary worlds and see them with great acuity. This phenomenon is easier in the dark, where pesky reality doesn’t get in the way.

Music too, offers the a similar portal into imagination while at the same time the world exists as music manifested. Everything seems completely perfect, a wondrous multi-dimensional symphony of creation, light, and sound. This is simply a personal observation, but I believe that since we are all one, we all have the capacity to go where I’ve described whether through connectedness or loss of identity, or both.

This pertains to my theory on why some people have bad trips, because they are afraid of the parts of themselves that come out and simultaneously afraid of losing themselves. They are afraid to experience their psyche when projected externally and see the world where they are truly part of the world, as a wave is part of an ocean. When peaking the line between our conscious interpretation of reality and reality itself becomes blurred and easily resembles Alan’ Watts view of the universe. You can see how this could create a nightmare as well as a dreamworld. Yet, this is closest to the state of oneness that I’ve achieved for an extended period of time, and that is the goal of most spiritual quests.

For those of you thinking “Whoa this might be too intense.” Never fear. The very nature of our mind to continue moving across different lines of thinking often leads us back to solid, unchanging reality. This gives the feeling that all of the incredibly mind-bending effects come in waves, when the actual phenomenon is similar to focusing on something in the background with your eyes, thus blurring the foreground and vice versa. The background is sober reality and the foreground is LSD reality in this example. It just happens more gradually, in a span of minutes. Personally, I’ve never felt like I’ve lost myself or had my judgement compromised. There was never a fear of jumping off a cliff because I believed I could fly. This isn’t PCP.

The Journey as Destination

I’ve always had trouble grappling with the idea that we should enjoy the journey of life. I spend so much time not seeing the whole picture, being confused, aggravated, and lost that it’s easy for me to wish to experience oneness all the time. LSD results in a feeling where you’ve already arrived. There is nothing to do except that which brings you utter joy and most things do. Everything is perfect, everything makes perfect sense, and you find yourself laughing at all the little inconsistencies in life.

You see time as you would see the Earth from a plane. The sheer beauty of it is overwhelming. Everything pulses with life and you think what a magnificent being you are to be having this experience. The entire puzzle is revealed, as though life was a hurricane and you finally reached the eye. It’s at this time where the greatest insights may come to you. Where you may deepen a personal relationship with someone, find out things about yourself that were there the whole time but you overlooked them, or receive an answer to a question that prior to this confounded you.

Lynn Grabhorn, in “Excuse me Your Life is Waiting” claims that all we have to do is feel the emotion of having the thing that we desire and it will come to us by universal law. Manifestation is furthermore strengthened by the feeling that our life is complete exactly the way it is. Paradoxically, this allows us to be open to receiving new things.

I’ve always had trouble feeling what it would be like to have something that I don’t have or accept my imperfect reality bereft of objects and emotional states that I desire, but LSD bridges that gap. LSD allows me to be simultaneously completely content with everything I am and everything that has happened in my life, and opens me to a whole new world of experience. It is this state that is widely talked about among practicers of the Law of Attraction and I believe this state of oneness and openness is the precursor to fundamental change in mindset, perspective, and even one’s fortune in life.

The Downside

The two main problems with acid (other than it being illegal and notoriously hard to find) are its temporary effects and it’s forcing of expansive consciousness even when one may not be ready.

I have always used acid as an aid for spiritual understanding. Thus I have used it at crucial points on my journey to investigate the nature of the universe. Lessons I have learned include the vastness of our universe, the incredible force of friendship, the value of self-worth, and even the need for patience and to let life unfold exactly as it will. Before this I was attempting to race ahead of life like someone who attempts to fly beyond the curve of the Earth while it recedes just as fast. I believe that the good of LSD comes when it is used for good, and that it may be detrimental if used for the wrong reasons. I’ve tried it in a host of non spiritual ways from going to the DMV, a job interview, or laying brick. This is as useful as getting drunk and trying to do Calculus.

The main problem, however, is for those who benefit. For those who seek lasting change, this will not grant them that. This will grant them a temporary opportunity to see what enlightenment could be like. The enlightening feelings are deep core sensations. The thoughts that spring out are like plants growing out of the richest dirt. While tripping, it feels like you’ve always known the knowledge that you suddenly have, and that you always will have access to this way of being once it’s over. Though I’ve taken acid quite a few times, I always trick myself into believing this is the end of my journey. Now it all makes sense and life will be a perfect unfolding of my glorious discovery.

This is not what happens. Acid has a slow comedown, so the effect is very subtle at first. But eventually all of these sensations become more dull, and you find yourself reaching for realizations that came like breathing before. The effect is similar to what I imagine Jim Carrey experiences in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” as his memories of a loved one are slowly erased. It’s like your memory of your connection to your higher self and the source of abundance is slowly erased as hard reality sets in. Eventually your spiritual experience becomes nothing more than a shadow on your thoughts. Your new understanding may stick with you throughout the night, but eventually all will seem back to normal. You find yourself thinking, “force of friendship? self worth? I could have read that in a self help book. What was I on?” But like those who’ve claimed to have heard god speak to them, this experience was real. It really happened.

The only trace that it did happen are the occasional acid flashbacks I experience. These aren’t nearly as crazy or all-encompassing as other experiences I’ve heard about, but they are quite fun. Most often they happen when I look in a mirror, and my face will distort and change shape. I even might look like different people by focusing on different parts of my face. It’s only happened once where this happened while I was looking at someone else. These flashbacks seem to be encouraged by drinking, smoking pot, or both. It’s often when my mind is in some kind of altered state. Usually I think something to the effect of “Woohoo! Free acid!”

It’s not quite addiction, but I’ve found myself at times wanting to return to that Garden of Eden of consciousness.  Wanting to live where I had access to that kind of perspective, like I had the view of one who flies over the land at their leisure and sees only the good, where the sun streaks across the waves in the ocean that gently ebb upon sparkling sands that sweep up against mocha cliffs crowned by great fields of wheat colored grass. In short, where everything is just as it should be.

And maybe it’s a shortcut to where we’re all going, like we’re in line at Space Mountain at Disneyland and we see the rollercoaster through the glass but the wait to get on is still an hour. But like that analogy “real life” seems so empty in comparison. More than anything, LSD has further stoked my burning desire to be in this state all the time without drugs. It’s not an opium high, or a drunken buzz, or a heady bake, or even a coke-addled hyper reality. It’s what true beingness is. It stops cold the treadmill of our stark “do do do” mindset and bursts the walls around us to the world beyond. It’s the “Power of Now” in pill form. I’m fairly convinced that world peace is possible with enough LSD.

But it’s a crutch. It’s a consciousness steroid. Great for a snapshot in time. But for the long haul, I’ll just have to go to the gym of spiritual development.