Using Reverse Psychology on the Universe

Life definitely is not without a sense of irony.

Not just irony in the bad sense. Even life’s serendipities often come with a silver-lining of retrospective irony. I started writing the short story Dance Robot and the novel Robogirl in part because I wanted to basically copulate with this girl who I thought was the girl of my dreams, and failing to do so had to have a place to vent my expressive energy. And the amount of said energy knows no bounds.

Especially when thusly thwarted.

In War of Art, Pressfield alludes to the possibility that Hitler may have started World War II because he couldn’t face down an empty canvas. But sometimes I wonder if perhaps Hitler got dissed by a really hot German babe. Must have been the mustache.

The ironic part, however, is that once I surpassed the hurdle of actually unleashing my creative energies into a productive endeavor which I feel is my calling,* I realized that any thrill or superficial sense of fulfillment I would have gained by achieving my former desire absolutely paled in comparison to the ecstasy of actually fulfilling my purpose in life and creating something of value for myself and others which is immortal. What do I mean by immortal, you ask? Shakespeare the man died nearly 400 years ago, but his works live on today.

“What’s your greatest ambition?”
“To become immortal, and then die.”
(-From the classic film Breathless.)

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”- Bruce Lee

Okay, so now I’ve positively affirmed my mission to set aside worldly concerns such as sex and money and to achieve a life of true meaning and purpose. What about the opposite? What is the secret to obtaining all you’ve ever dreamed of having of the mundane? What is the key to having success in your business and love life? The converse of the above situation is also true.

Because the moment you tell the universe, “Okay fine, I honestly don’t want success in my business, in my love life, in all these other pursuits, I just want to be able to focus on my creative passions. That’s all I really care about and want to do right now with my life.” Then immediately universe responds with “Oh, no, wait, I’ll give you success in all these things—just, please, whatever you do, don’t follow your creative passions.” It even starts to beg “Please, I’ll give you anything…”

“The whole world will offer itself to you…” Franz Kafka

Honestly.

Truly.

That is what happens. Because the moment I put my all into this creative, constructive, higher-plane type stuff, a million other opportunities opened up to me that had previously been closed. Back when I was solely focused on trying to follow the pursuit of mammon, the doors were closed. But as soon as I said, “Screw you, I have a higher calling, and I’m just going to do it.” All those doors flew open, immediately, apologetically, imploring me to forget about the higher road. If my only purpose in life was to appease my baser instincts, then I’d be set.

But I’m stubborn.

I’ve changed. I’ve found out there is something more that I want out of life. Something higher. So screw reverse psychology, screw the universe and its begging. In fact, all of that begging is only motivating me more to seek out this higher ground.

And plus I love a challenge. Nothing in life would be worth it, if there was no resistance. No challenge.

So there you have it. The secrets to the universe. And to what makes me tick. The challenge. The thought of achieving what I never thought possible. Getting revenge on my shallow disappointments and blasting them away with truer victories than I imagined possible. We learn that anger is a bad thing. But angst, I believe, can be one of the most powerful and constructive emotions in the world. Angst means longing for a better world, and the determination to do something about it.

*Steven Pressfield’s book War of Art goes into detail about how, sadly, most people die without overcoming the hurdle of beginning to actually do what they are most passionate about in life.

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2 comments

  1. An irony indeed, an irony I think I understand.

    Years ago, I faced a long bout of depression (might’ve been clinical) that last almost through my late adolescence until early adulthood. Eventually, I came to realize it was because I had not accomplished anything with my love of writing, a promise I had made myself in the earliest semesters of high school.

    I rose from that funk by writing my first novel draft ever, and I became a very different man as a result. Now that I am truly in sync with my artistic tendencies, I find myself being offered a million opportunities I don’t need anymore. Hell, I even ditched an excellent relationship because it was starting to mess with my professional writing career.

    I’m the happiest man there is in spite of literally having so little. Ironies indeed.

    1. Joe,

      Definitely a story I can relate with. It’s funny how simple it is to be happy and fulfilled: just do the work you were born to do. That which you love and are talented at. And yet, everything that is taught in society is hell bent on stopping us from doing just that. And so people spend their lives putting an enormous amount of energy into trying to find a substitute for that which would make them truly happy—they pursue money, sex, drugs, material possessions, yada yada yada. A friend recently told me he watched a documentary about a scientific study on happiness. They found that to be happy people needed only two things: They needed to be doing what they love, and they needed to have meaningful relationships. For me, what gives me the most happiness is my son, and then in second place doing what I love, which is creating. But I find if I’m not engaging myself in doing what I’m truly passionate about, my relationships deteriorate, because I feel less fulfilled and less optimistic about life. So really those two are the yin and yang of happiness. You have to feel fulfilled as an individual to make other people happy, and you have to have meaningful relationships with those who are important in your life (including yourself, I should add) to have a purpose for even following your passions. The two feed off each other.

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