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Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 4, Uniqueness (It’s One-of-a-Kind), Part 1

Tap cover, to read.

This is the latest installation of a 27-part series, featuring my book, Chasing Unicorns. To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next post in this series, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. To read the entire book at once, tap the book cover. Thanks for reading!

RECAP: In the last chapter, we focused on focus, and learned how it works. Focus makes your awareness return to the same thing over and over again, like a boomerang on a bungee cord. You only have so much awareness, no more, no less, so when you focus it mainly on one thing, it doesn’t leave much awareness for anything else. In this chapter, you’ll learn that you’d better focus your awareness on something unique if you want to feel pleasure rather than pain.

Uniqueness (It’s One-of-a-Kind), Part 1

Uniqueness is what you did with your boyfriend for the first time, when your parents were out for the evening. Or it’s the Loch Ness Monster, captured and held for public display in a giant aquarium. Or it’s test driving a Lamborghini, when all you’ve ever owned is a 20-year-old Buick.

Get what I mean? Uniqueness is the sweet spot, baby! It’s the fulfillment of fantasy. It’s the strange and unexpected. It’s an escape from the mundane. In fact it’s an infinite amount of things, because it’s anything unpredictable or unusual.

Would you rather read a news story about a dog that goes around biting men, or about a man that goes around biting dogs?

Uniqueness is what your mind lives for, salivates for, and dreams of every minute of every waking and sleeping hour of every day. The greatest delights in life are found when you experience the most unique situations. And it is for these experiences that you will walk to the ends of the earth to encounter.

When it comes to uniqueness, it’s one-of-a-kind. Now that’s a safe thing to say. But I’ve said so many unconventional, unsafe things in previous chapters, I want to take a break on the safe side for once. Because, well, I guess I’m longing for a unique experience.

So how do you find this one-of-a-kind thing? Where does this coveted elixir of happiness come from?

First, What the Heck Is It?

Well first, let’s figure out what uniqueness is exactly. In theory, I mean. Remember Zombie Theory? Zombie Theory states that life is change, and asserts that even dead bodies are alive, because the process of decomposition amounts to change. Uniqueness fits right into Zombie Theory. After all, it would be very unique to see a zombie rise from the grave and start walking around.

Uniqueness is simply a way of gauging the amount of change that occurs, from the perspective of the person experiencing the change. Some changes are perceived as more unique than others. For instance, the second hand on a watch is always changing, as it travels round and round the dial. But the changes are not very unique, since you are well acquainted with the actions of a watch. But if the second hand of your watch began running backwards—now that would be very unique. From your perspective, that would bring much more change than when the second hand runs in the normal direction.

So uniqueness gauges the amount of change that occurs, from the perspective of the person experiencing the change. And since change is life, uniqueness also gauges the amount of life that is experienced. Some experiences in life are more unique than others.

Try this little experiment. Sit on the front lawn of your house and watch the grass grow. If you try this, here’s what I guess will happen:

The grass all around you will be constantly changing as it slowly grows taller and taller. But the change will be so slow you will have great difficulty detecting it. Therefore the change and life you will experience from this lawn-watching activity will not be very unique. And you will feel bored. What a yawner of a time. You might consider reading a dictionary while you’re at it, just to infuse a little more excitement into your life.

On the other hand, if you’re visiting from the Gobi Desert and have never seen lawn before, watching grass grow might prove very interesting to you. You’ll have a great time sitting on someone’s front lawn while observing the greenery. This is because from your perspective (and not the perspective of the lawn owner), watching grass grow would be a very unique experience.

But if you’re the owner of the lawn, here’s a way that you too can find lawn-watching an exciting activity:

Pour gasoline over the grass and set it on fire. That will cause a lot of change to occur over a very short period of time. And the amount of change will be much more unique than what you get from just watching the grass grow.

Okay, I’m just kidding. Please don’t set your lawn on fire. That is a dangerous way to experience large amounts of change. There are much safer ways to go about finding uniqueness. Besides, I keep using fire analogies. That’s not very unique of me, and I want to be more interesting. So I think maybe next time I’ll try a drowning analogy.

Uniqueness is relative. And you may have some unique relatives, so you may know what I mean when I say uniqueness is relative. Every change is unique to some degree. But some changes are more unique when compared with other changes. So the real question about uniqueness is, to what degree is a change relatively unique?

Every breath you take is unique, if just for the fact that each breath occurs at a different time. But paying attention to your breath can get boring real quick. This is because although it is unique, it is not very unique. You’re very familiar with your breathing, and one breath is usually not much different from another. Since your breath is not very unique, there is not much change going on in the perception of your breath. And since there is not much change going on, there is also not much life going on. Therefore there is not much life to be found in your breath. I could drone on and on, but I’m interrupted by your disagreement. Huh, you were paying more attention than I thought.

“Now wait a second!” you exclaim, “Life and breath go hand in hand, don’t they? You cannot live without breathing. And haven’t we all heard about ‘the breath of life?’ So what’s this nonsense about saying there is not much life to be found in your breath?”

Well there really isn’t. Breathing will keep your body alive, but it will deaden your mind real fast if you pay much attention to it. And this is because breathing is an ordinary everyday thing, and therefore not very unique. Think about it like this: You do not have a night out on the town so you can breathe. But you do breathe while you’re having a night out on the town.

Remember Auto-Enjoyment Theory? It states that life is automatically enjoyed. This means that the more change (and life) you experience, the more enjoyment you will automatically feel. Since uniqueness gauges the amount of change and life you experience, then the more unique you find a change to be, the more you will automatically enjoy it. That is why you go out and have a night on the town, rather than sit at home watching yourself breathe. You’re looking for some uniqueness, because uniqueness is something you don’t have to try hard to enjoy. Instead, you automatically enjoy it.

And that is why uniqueness is the sweet spot. It’s automatically enjoyed.

[Tomorrow I’m going to take you out to Chinese food, where we will explore more aspects of uniqueness.]

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55 replies »

  1. but don’t all the yogis tell people to focus on their breath, as a way to find peace and happiness?

    and most nights, I’d rather sit home and count my breaths than go out for a night on the town.

    Maybe I’m just not meant to be happy…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve noticed that you follow me and unfollow me a lot. I should award you frequent follower miles. Strange what WP is doing to you, though.

      I think Stoicism is some sort of ancient Greek philosophy that advocates the endurance of suffering. Other than that, I’m not very familiar with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not the one doing the “un-following”. I’ll just notice no notification in my AM emails. For awhile, I was wondering if I was unwelcome? Now you have a bookmark.

        Stoicism is fundamentally based on focused and objective attention to environment and how the mind responds to it… mindfulness. Epictetus advocated the need to regularly practice mindful attention (Greek “hegemonikon”). The “enduring” part is really just the minimizing of emotionally-charged distractions, which might become more-or-less of a lifestyle depending upon one’s degree of commitment. The Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote in his journals (usually titled, “Meditations”) of the benefits of Stoic focus and adopted the minimalist lifestyle usually associated with the philosophy.

        Liked by 2 people

        • No, you’re always welcome on my blog. WP is just messing with your head.

          I’ll be dealing with the subject of mindfulness in the final chapter of this book. I think it’s a very useful practice. As for all the theory behind it, it has a way of boggling my brain, and leaving me in a fog. I don’t think anyone truly understands why or how mindfulness works. I’m into the practice, but not so much into all the eggheaded theories.

          I’m a little bit familiar with Marcus Aurelius, haven’t recently watched the movie, “Gladiator.” The movie portrayed him as a reflective, deep-thinking soul, which I think may have had something to do with his Stoic practices.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I get where you’re going. Pali “sati” (“mindfulness”…not the Hindu burning-alive of widows type) is central to the Buddhist philosophy of my upbringing. I’ve always wondered if it influenced Stoicism, since there was a great deal of East/West cultural cross-pollination during and after the death of Alexander…. Hellenistic “Buddha” statues in India and the rise of syncretic “Manichaeism”.

            Maybe do a (mercifully shorter) egg-headed version. I usually practice during my hour-of-running, but the thick smoke and cinders this morning suggest a funeral pyre.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I don’t think there’s any spiritual practice more effective than mindfulness.

              I agree, there does seem to be a lot of similarity between some Greek philosophies, and Buddhist Dhamma. I think they influenced each other.

              I think running meditation is just one of the many different ways we can meditate. And I like the idea of killing two birds with one stone. You exercise your body and your mind, simultaneously.

              Liked by 1 person

    • The iPhone podcast app does that to me sometimes. I’ll wonder why I haven’t seen a podcast from someone in a while and I find that I have been unsubscribed. They don’t put much effort into their podcast app.

      Liked by 2 people

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