This blog post isn’t one of our normal entries, focusing on entrepreneurship or travel. Instead, I wanted to take a moment to publicly reflect on the road thus far. What I’ve learned along the way, the personal journey, where I was when I left, where I am now, what happened in between, some of the lessons I hope have led me to become a better person, a smarter businessman, and hopefully, towards my Ultimate Destiny. Whatever that might be. Read More
One cannot reach enlightenment trapped behind the walls of a suburban prison, locked in a cell of towering structures and constant 40-hour work week grinds and wage slavery and complete eradication of independent thought and creativity. One can only achieve their true destiny, unlock the potential of their very soul, their essence of being, through absolute freedom and the ability to travel anywhere in the world and soak in experiences as a sponge soaking water.
Without your soul, you are nothing. A fleeting glimpse of potential, a half-muttered thought, dancing on the wisp of possibility. Perfect for a life of servitude, but nothing more. A serf, a land-locked servant, clothed and shaved and civilized, chained to his plot of land by debt and service to his patron, his country. Destined to live a life of middle-class oblivion as personality is erased by state responsibility as a result of the accidental location of your birth. Read More
Everything had been going well up until the point the guard had woken himself up by snoring and just happened to catch Terrik in mid-pick on the lock of the door across the hallway. Purely chaotic, bad luck. Until then he’d made it past the three first-level guards, a tired manservant pushing a broom and an outbound prostitute before he’d made it to the door, completely undetected. And it was inside this very room that his whole reason for breaking in existed.
A quick jab to the throat sent the guard down in a gasping heap, but not before he’d let out a startled shout. After that, there was no point in worrying about silence and stealth anymore. Terrick wasn’t going to leave empty-handed, so boot to door made the most sense.
Splinters flew, heel jerked in pain that would turn into a bruise tomorrow, a yelp from the bed as the owner clutched his sheets around his frame and fumbled in the dark for his sword. Or a crossbow. There wasn’t time to find out, and a quick scan was all that was needed to locate the book he had been hired to retrieve. Impossible to miss, tucked away behind colored glass as it were, all displayed with pride and joy.
Other heel down, shattered glass, book in hand, into pack and out the door, only to come face to face with three charging guards from the left and two more from the right. Quick glance over shoulder reveals iron bars over the window. Not an exit. Take deep breath, commence getaway.
A couple of quick lunges got him up to speed for the right, and he spun slightly on his heel as he leapt, hoping to clear the guards. They cursed and tried to catch him mid-run, fingers wide and reaching, but he was above their claws. All clear, and then the toe of his left foot impacted with the left guard’s face, sending him into a stumbled landing, crashing into the wall, knocking a painting to the floor.
Two crossbow bolts shot from the three guards firing over the two sprawling guards he had just bowled over buried into the wall next to his head with a thunderous thwump thwump. He jigged to the right as he ducked and tried to recover from the landing. The rasp of steel drawn behind him, then horn blast, then another two guards coming up the stairwell as he reached it.
No choice but to avoid, so he swung himself up over the stair railing and took the leap down to the first floor, a good ten foot drop. He was ready for the impact, remembering it from earlier, crouching low to absorb and rolling forward into a somersault directly in front of the guard on the right hand side of the front door, both he and his fellow guard on the left in mid-turn as they heard his tumbled landing. A leg sweep for the one on the right, then as the one on the left reaches for his collar and swings a blade he ducks under the steel and half-stumbles, half-falls out onto the stairs of the front entry.
Cold night, torch light, shadowed burrows stretch out before him. The night is his element, and it’s time to disappear. He sprints for the nearest building with a first-story access and quickly scales its walls even as the shouts ring out behind him, “There, on the roof!” No worries. Six rooftops later and he’s slowed his pace to a casual run, springing from roof edge to roof edge as he makes his way back into the heart of the downtown district.
Time to get paid.
Being The Player Character
Terrik is what is known as a Player Character in the gaming world. He has something that sets him apart from the rest of humanity: PC Status.
PC Status is the defining skill that sets you apart from the rest of the masses. You are more than just ordinary, and you are much more than average. Rather than rolling a bunch of 8s and 10s and only a couple of 12s during your character creation, you got 14s, 16s and maybe an 18 or so.
You were smarter, prettier, stronger, faster, more skilled at something, but in some way or another PC status is what sets you apart from the rest of the meat suits. It’s what makes the difference between Bill Gates and anyone else who was born in the same year, lived in the same area and went to the same schools. It’s that special something.
It has nothing to do with luck. PC Status is what sets a Hero apart from the serfs. He’s the one who isn’t afraid to pick up the sword, to rob the castle, to brave the spider-infested dungeons of Kranthagol because deep within the lair lies the Sword of Thalius and the Bow of Bethar.
A Hero braves the cold, the heat, the sprawls, the dumps, the dungeons, the sewers, the mountains and the sea to achieve his or her goal. They inspire others to go along with them, leading through strength, bravery, wit, genius and beyond, based upon what their primary PC Status character trait is.
Someone with PC status makes their mark on the world and is remembered after they are gone. They are the Masters of their own Universe. They aren’t afraid to go out into the cold and the dark with nothing more than a torch and a sword or spell, because they’ve handled challenges like this before. It’s just one more step on the evolution to perfection, the learning experiences that shape us into the Heroes that Player Characters were born to be.
In the world of Terrik, he is the Player Character and the fumbling, bumbling guards are the Non Player Characters.
I’m a long-time D&D fan. Up until the point I left the U.S. at the end of 2007, it had been as much a part of my life as MMORPGs and video games had been. The 12+ years I was living on my own up until that point had been an accumulation of all those roleplaying experiences. Which in mind lead to some of the most critical thinking anyone will ever achieve as a result of continually brainstorming and finding new ways around challenges through group interaction with a dedicated team of like-minded thinkers and artists.
I’m a firm believer that gaming leads to life skills. You’ve seen it in the other Secret Life of an Expat Gamer entries. Just as I was running 15 to 25 man crews for the construction business back in the day, I was also running teams of 30 to 40 players through raids and dungeons for six years, leading the guild to two different top 10 lists in my time as a hardcore gamer (EQ2, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes). Management. Team-building. Teamwork. Leadership.
Puzzle-solving as you come up against dungeon traps and in-game quests require critical, out-of-the-box thinking. You can’t just pass the buck to someone else when you are playing a video game and walking your character through the depths of a dungeon or in the middle of a quest. The decision rests on your shoulders, and you and you alone are the only one who will gain the glory and credit if you pull it off. Or you’ll die trying.
Non Player Characters aren’t born with innate PC Status, but they can earn it. Just as in the games there are often tomes you can find after achieving lengthy quests or overcoming challenging odds that lead to stat increases, or earn more experience points as you go along to enhance your abilities as you see fit, in life there are many things which lead to experience that can in turn be traded in for enhanced skill in a certain area.
A person who wants to paint, for example, not simply dabbling in it in their spare time, but choosing instead to spend four to six hours a day, every day, for four years working on their craft, building and doing it for their own betterment as well as to get good at it. Studying under a master, serving a mentorship, spending day upon day, hour after hour, on enhancing that one specific skill. The reward is an enhancement of that attribute after hard work and persistence. It might take you 10 levels (10 years), but eventual you always enhance your status through long hours of study…and that’s no different than reality.
Being The Hero
Being a Player Character is hard work. You don’t get to be a peon following someone else’s lead. Rather, you are the leader. The one people follow. You have the power, while others only dream about it. You have the freedom, while others only look on and wish. While the stable boy sweeps stalls and shovels horse shit, dreaming of winning the hand of the princess in marriage, you are out there, sword in hand, slitting the throat of the beast that was set to eat said princess, a night of steamy passion ahead as she sinks into your arms, not his.
You take the risks others are afraid to. You push yourself further, working longer hours, pursuing your passion with all your strength and dedication. Where others spend 10 mninutes a day focusing their time, you spend five hours. Training. Preparation. Becoming the best you can possibly be.
Giant spiders, dragons, the dark recesses of the Earth, glory, destiny and the phat lewts belong to you and those who are brave enough and skilled enough to come along for the ride. You are the Hero, the one the bards and storytellers will sing and write about for centuries to come. Your time…is now.
Are you a Player Character? What are you doing to enhance your skills? Haven’t broken out of the NPC mold yet? Have questions or comments? Leave them below or shoot them to me in an email and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
This blog post was inspired by Luck Is Just the Spark for Business Giants.
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Corner of Teak and Milbury. The girl behind the cash register at McDonald’s is 17 years old and working a summer job to save up money for college. She works the night shift and in her spare time she works out math equations. Specifically, trigonometry. She is what society would consider a genius level mathematician, quietly working away on her passion in secret.
Given another year, she would earn a full ride to Harvard based on a theory she presents in her final year of high school, which would in turn allow her to go on to become one of the world’s leading physicists. At the age of 35 she would create a break-through in quantum physics, leading to the first grav-lift car that would become commercially available to the public, leading to the eventual eradication of highways and the use of asphalt and other chemicals that are toxic to the environment and an eventual Nobel prize.
Instead, she gets knocked up by some meth-head gang-banger and squirts out a baby before she is 18. She gets tatted up, starts smoking meth, and ends up having two more children with three other men before she is 25. Rather than a life of pursuing her passion to achieve the highest levels of destiny, she becomes relegated to a life of drug addiction and is in and out of jail over the years before finally dying of an overdose at the age of 35.
Is it her fault for not achieving her destiny and pursuing her genius to its maximum potential, or is it the fault of society for not providing an environment in which she could thrive in her chosen element?
I love Benjamin Franklin’s quote about “He who is good at making excuses is rarely good for anything else”. The vast majority of people will blame their lack of success on everything and everyone but themselves. It’s the economy. The foreigners. The illegal immigration. The war in Iraq. Taxes. The cost of living. It’s never their own fault for working a shitty job and making a shit wage and living a life of servitude. It’s someone else’s fault.
But at what point do we take a look at the burden Western society has put upon people with their mandatory credit addiction, mandatory slave wages, mandatory GMO modified food and mandatory third-world living conditions and lay the blame at the feet of the system? Or do we lay the blame solely on the individual for not taking the opportunities presented to them by life and fate?
If you look at the girl in the above scenario, I’m talking hypotheticals. But the reality isn’t that far from the truth. We all know someone who is a creative genius in their own right who is stuck in a dead-end job working for no money trying to make ends meet just to put food on the table and rather than pursuing their dreams they are working a job they hate for a wage that doesn’t even provide them with enough money to live…all so they can “get by”.
Fuck that. I want to live in a world where creative genius is sacred. Where society puts an emphasis on creativity and allowing people to pursue their true calling. Where mathematicians can go on to create things that benefit humanity as a whole rather than wind up knocked up and cracked out because society forced them into a certain path rather than provided them the opportunity to thrive.
Governments don’t want creative thinkers. They want workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and keep the system functioning, but not intelligent enough to think for themselves. Smart people are dangerous. They are the ones who tell their fellow man to rise up, cast off the chains and take their destiny into their own hands. Fuck control. Fuck nationalism and your pledge of allegiance. Fuck 8 hour work shifts and 2 weeks of paid vacation and mandatory military service.
Free-thinking people are the bane of governments and organized society. If everyone is allowed to think for themselves, revolutions start. People rise up. Rather than be wage slaves, they cast off their chains and move abroad. They learn other languages, appreciate other cultures, live in other countries, and spend their money everywhere but on the home turf.
Smart people are the ones who change the world. They challenge authority, they speak for themselves, they constantly strive to achieve something greater, something for the benefit of all rather than the benefit of a few, and they are continually looking for ways to improve. Not just upon themselves, but the human race as a whole.
Smart people don’t believe in war. They believe in peace, love and understanding. Equality for all. Man, woman, black, brown, white, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Lutheran, Catholic…it doesn’t matter. Smart people want to live in a world where creativity is put above everything else, where we can use our collective consciousness to pursue the betterment of all mankind and find a way to live harmoniously together without an addiction to war and oil and raping of the planet around us.
Living In Utopia
From my own personal viewpoint, I think one of the greatest aspects of unplugging from the system, learning other languages, moving abroad and living in other cultures and studying my passions and following my dreams has been simply this: I have been allowed to achieve my own greatness. Absolute freedom, both creatively and financially. I have no debt and I can do what I want, when I want.
But not just that. I can pursue my passions in an environment where creativity is allowed to thrive. Where I’m not burdened by debt, by a 40 hour a week job, by wage slavery and credit and GMO modified foods that force me into sickness and obesity.
As Ken Robinson stated in his 2006 TED presentation, everyone has within them the gem of creativity. A tiny bud of genius, waiting to flower. All it needs is a little bit of watering, some cultivation, and it will grow from there into a future that none of us can comprehend…but only if it is allowed the chance to flourish creatively.
When you look at a genius child, most people will think to themselves, “Oh my…he/she is exceptionally gifted”. But are they really that gifted? I don’t think so. Rather, I know for a fact that each and every one of us, each and every single person on the planet, has that same spark of genius inside of them. We are, after all, the universe experience itself. Stardust, made physical. And within each of us lies infinite possibilities if only we are given the opportunity to pursue those passions which eventually turn into greatness.
Creativity is as important as literacy, and should be given the same level of focus in schools and in society. If a person is a gifted and talented artist, put them in a position where they can pursue their gift. Don’t force them into a position of servitude where they are working at McDonald’s while pursuing a worthless degree in business administration because “that’s the only way you will get a job”.
Creativity is something to be cherished, something to be nurtured, and we need to create that nurturing environment for the betterment of humanity. Musicians should be allowed to thrive in an environment where they write music. Painters an environment to paint. Dancers an environment to dance.
96% of college degrees have been proven to be completely worthless (just ask law students in Boston working for less than minimum wage, or the millions who have had their lives ruined by student debt), so why are we still using them as the benchmark for “the way of doing things?
As Robinson points out, we are educating children out of creativity. We are teaching them to fear being creative, to fear being different, and by the time most people reach adulthood they are branded forever as wage slaves, destined to a life of mediocrity and an early grave without ever achieving anything of value in their life…simply because they are too afraid to do anything other than be a servant.
The Bottom Line
Genius is sacred. Creativity is sacred. It should be nurtured, cultivated, allowed to flourish and grow into something great that will benefit all of humanity, rather than only a select few. But in order to get to that point we have to create an environment where genius is allowed to thrive. Currently, this does not exist except for those of us who have made the conscious decision to break free of the chains of “civilized” society and pursue global careers as digital nomads.
Is it our responsibility to help create an environment to foster creativity? I, for one, think that it is. I think that we owe it to ourselves as a species to teach people to unplug from The Matrix, to stop letting government-funded teachers tell them how and what to think, to stop pledging allegiance to a flag, to stop believing in “god and country”, to stop believing in imaginary boundaries drawn on maps by a select group of people who want to control everyone else.
I believe it is our responsibility to create a better world for future generations. A world where creativity is cherished, where wage slavery is abolished and war is a thing of the past, where humanity can focus as a whole on the betterment of all as opposed to only the betterment of a few and single group of countries (i.e. The West). A world where that 17 year old girl is allowed to grow up and become the mathematician she was born to be, rather than the meth addict that society forced her to become due to broken promises and corruption.
What are your thoughts on creativity and society? Do you believe it is the responsibility of the individual to cultivate creativity, or the responsibility of society to provide an environment where creativity can thrive?