Mindfulness problems

The present moment is all we have. I get that.

I’m quite happy resting in awareness – experiencing sounds, sights, feelings.

I can even turn my attention back in on itself and realise that the “I” at the centre of my experience is just a story, an illusion.

A couple of times I’ve quit my job and focused exclusively on this.

What I struggle with is getting back to the dirty business of living.

Trying to be nondual in a dualistic world.

Talking to people, working with clients, exposure to advertising…it’s all about expectations.

And more specifically, emphasising what we lack and how our lives would improve if only we had it.

We’re currently unhappy with how things are and want them to be better; a results-based measurement.

It’s hard to maintain a curious, playful, and present attitude when dealing with society’s bullshit.

Instead, I get sucked back into thinking if only I could fill this big gaping void of psychological desire, I’d be happy.

It’s fine if you live in a Buddhist monastery, surrounded by like minds with food on your plate.

But in the real world, mindfulness is much harder.

Business ideas

Read some good website advice the other day about picking a business idea.

This specifically pertains to creating niche websites:

  1. Be passionate about the topic
  2. Pick a tribal topic
  3. Ensure there’s enough to write about the topic

Out of them all, I think number 2 is crucial.

Basically, choose something that people are likely to shout about in their Tinder profile:

E.g. I’m a vegan, I’m a doctor, I’m a reader, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m American.

Better still – if you’re actually part of this target group, you can speak with authority and authenticity.

Failing that, it could be the group of someone you know or simply a topic you want to learn more about.

Bonus points if it has a positive connotation or strong group identity, where people earn image points for being associated with it.

E.g. sustainability, healthy living, prestigious career

Extra bonus points if people preface their affiliation with ‘I am’

E.g ‘I’m a father’ is better than ‘I love knitting’

Why? Because ‘I am’ is an identity-based statement.

Once you’ve found the niche, you can segment further within it to pick a specific angle or group.

That’s because as a new website, you’ve no chance of beating the incumbents – like to write about personal finance? Good luck against NerdWallet.

The smaller the niche, the easier you can become the most definitive source on the word wide web and stand out.

It’s a bit like a restaurant doing one thing really well rather than cooking every type of food badly.

To drill down, focus on a specific area of the niche and/or a type of person within that subset.

E.g vegan athletes, parents of twins etc.

Start small and you can always expand into other areas later, especially by picking a broad domain name.

Then educate and entertain while solving your audience’s pain points.

Simples.

Tenet

Watched the film Tenet.

I’d say it was confusing but boy, this was on another level.

What a steaming pile of crap.

The dialogue was snappy to the point of being unintelligible, while each cut was such an extreme narrative leap, I could barely keep up.

It felt like they were trying to cram too much story into the film.

I’m a sci-fi nerd and have seen my fair share of temporal distortion films, but the premise was barely understandable.

It’s rare I have to stop watching something, but this just felt like a complete waste of time.

Do yourself a favour – don’t bother.

Look down

I dislike running.

But I still do it, because it makes me feel good afterwards.

During the run though? Hell no.

I constantly fantasise about when I can drag my sorry body home.

Because the mental pain of running is like an ice pick to the face.

However, I noticed a curious phenomenon recently.

When I angle my vision slightly down, this normally despicable activity becomes marginally more bearable…

To the point of getting closer to what cool kids would call the flow state.

Because all I’m focusing on is the next stretch of tarmac instead of seeing a long, dread-inducing, road ahead of me.

I feel this is a good metaphor for life, and essentially summarises almost every self-help book ever written…

To stop wasting time worrying about a future that hasn’t happened.

So in sum, just look down and take the next step.

Pour Me

Just read the autobiography of A.A. Gill.

Had never heard of him before, but I like the cut of his jib.

In a world full of half measures and hollow promises, his words cut like a razor.

He pulls no punches in a raw, unfiltered take on the life of an alcoholic, full of blood and spittle.

It’s an honest reflection on what it means to be human, with all of our shifting opinions, inner contradictions and self-deceit.

Losing ourselves

I was out on the motorbike today and felt that in much of our ceaseless doing, there’s the ultimate desire to lose ourselves.

The Buddhists would probably call this ‘no mind’.

Most people probably don’t think about their choice of activities, but everything from Netflix to playing tennis is essentially an attempt to forget your insignificant existence for a short time.

In that forgetfulness exists a small sliver of peace…

A short respite from an annoyingly whiny voice in our heads that constantly questions, doubts and compares.

Where exactly you discover this little nugget of respite varies from person to person, but it seems essential to health and well-being.

So whether it’s interacting with fellow humans or gardening in nature – if there’s an activity that gets you out or your own noggin and into the world, even briefly, seize it like a lion.

Say yes, do more

I have a few regrets in life. Here are 3:

  1. When I lived abroad I had the opportunity to work with a famous film star. Due to not liking my then job and the proposed work encroaching on my social life, I said no. Frequently, I ponder the missed potential of my shortsighted decision.
  1. My friend once invited me on an international motorcycle trip after breaking up with his girlfriend. Having initially said yes, I was infected by a bout of anxiety and cancelled. I still imagine the fun we could have had on this adventure.
  1. Recently, I saw a friend who was working with a semi-famous band. After meeting him and a couple of the band members for a coffee, I inexplicably turned down free tickets to the evening gig, despite loving their music.

Number three was the final straw.

Instead of an open approach to life, I’ve realised just how limited I’ve become.

I’m reminded of the Yes Man film and original book by Danny Wallace, who, after a breakup and subsequent social withdrawal, decided to live the yes man mentality for a year.

Unsurprisingly, adopting this philosophy led to a series of random and unexpected adventures, initiating chains of events that would transform his career and subsequently marry his future wife.

Reviewing the regret of my previous decisions, I know I need to make a change.

Instead of allowing fear and negativity to prevail, I’ll try to accept the offers that life presents, treating existence as an adventure.

Which decision, in the present moment, is more likely to be storyworthy? Sitting in my pants watching Netflix or saying yes to the next invitation?

Hope poem

Air black with untold hope

Trying to summon the light

Shards pierce what used to float

Deep in the cold, dark night

AI content

I’ve started testing AI content for my other website and l hate to admit it, but it’s producing better articles than 90% of cheap freelancers.

Add a skillful editor at the end and you have yourself a pretty solid article.

Obviously, these services aren’t great when covering complex topics or referencing accurate scientific research, but they provide a sound starting point for further refinement.

Enough to satisfy the arbitrary Google God anyway, which is ranking these AI ‘authors’ as readily as their human counterparts.

There is of course the argument that search engines will eventually dispense their income-destroying algorithmic penalties due to the increasing number of AI spam sites emerging.

But I’d say they have their work cut out identifying it, seeing as most of Google’s top ten search results are just regurgitated garbage anyway.

Some people have a problem with the ethical side of it, one argument being that the internet’s becoming unsufferable, a wasteland of disconnected words.

And I’d have a hard time disagreeing.

But then, the web has been shit for a while now, largely due to huge media corporations harnessing SEO and buying their way into the top spots, pushing the average blogger off the cliff and into the internet void.

And the fact is, many of these same conglomerates are also leveraging this emerging technology, making it almost impossible to compete as a one-man band.

The fact is, these tools will only get better, and good or bad, they’re here to stay…

Until every human endeavour is rendered obsolete and we exist in a deep, dank pit of impotence. Can’t wait.

Twitter vs Reddit

I’m drawn to Twitter, but the problem with the platform is that it’s preachy. Users trick themselves into the illusion that they’re masterminds of existence, with everything figured out; or else they willfully perpetrate the act to lure people into their self-confidence honeypot for personal gain.

Reddit, in contrast, is for people who don’t know and for the most part, don’t pretend to. It’s a forum for people asking questions, however ignorant, and other people trying to provide (mostly) helpfully advice and amusing comments. I think that’s why on the whole, I like Reddit more.

Because all I know for sure is that no-one really knows anything. Everyone’s just a lost little child suckling on the breast of uncertainty.

This duality also exists for my two websites. On one, I’m positioned as a subject matter expert, dispensing advice and suggestions. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do communicate from a place of confidence to inspire more belief in my readers.

This blog, in contrast, is my personal Reddit. I’m open to sharing my complete insecurity and confusion in the face of a big, scary, spider-like world. While I’d love to share this message in my normal existence, it’s a difficult act to balance. Hence in Frightspear, I’ve created a more informal, personally vulnerable space.

I suppose there are two ways to assess these approaches:

  1. Which style do I derive more pleasure from? This website probably. It’s certainly more enjoyable sharing my unfiltered thoughts and dark, sinister musings.
  2. Which approach is more helpful for the reader? Does the positive positioning of my other site instill more confidence or is this personal diary approach more helpful/interesting? Only time will tell.