Category: books

Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 4, Uniqueness (It’s One-of-a-Kind), Part 2

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: Yesterday we learned that uniqueness is a way of gauging the amount of change you experience. The more unique the change, the more enjoyable it tends to be.

Uniqueness (It’s One-of-a-Kind), Part 2

Chinese Food Theory

No there’s not much uniqueness to be found in breathing. But there’s a lot of uniqueness in such things as sex, delicious food, and fast cars. When you have these things, you’re really living! That’s why we humans tend to gravitate toward these types of things, and why we tend to just take breathing for granted and not pay attention to it most of the time (except when we’re being suffocated by a pillow, or something).

Uniqueness is found in every sensation detected by the nervous system of your body that is transmitted to your brain. When you consider the many billions of nerve endings found throughout your physique, you’ll have to admit something: You’ve got a lot of nerve! And every moment of every day, you have billions of sensations being transmitted from those nerve endings on up to your brain. It’s like telephone-central up there between your ears, with phones constantly ringing off the hook all over the place.

Each nerve ending sends a message. The message is not much at all. Usually it’s just a tiny little impulse. Not even enough to pass for a Western Union telegram. But all of those billions of little impulses form patterns that your mind perceives. Patterns such as visual images, the sound of music (no, not necessarily the movie with Julie Andrews), intellectual concepts, and so forth. And some of those patterns can be very unique. The more unique a pattern is, the more change and life you will experience. And therefore the more you will enjoy it.

But you also gain enjoyment apart from the patterns. Each little nerve impulse is a tiny little message of uniqueness. It’s not much uniqueness, but it is a little. Just like breathing, it’s a very ordinary form of change, and therefore it is not very unique at all, in and of itself. But consider this: There are billions and billions of these tiny little not-very-unique messages being transmitted to your brain every moment. So what they lack in quality of uniqueness, they can make up for in quantity.

Suppose you worked for the IRS in China. Now I’m not saying there really is an IRS in China, but with over one billion citizens, I’m sure the IRS would just love to set up shop there. Yes, it’s an IRS agent’s dream: tax the poor Chinese. Now let’s say your job at the Chinese IRS is to handle all the tax deposits coming in from the citizens. And let’s say you figured out a way to embezzle one penny from every tax return filed by a Chinese citizen. With a billion taxpayers in that country, you could get quite rich from this copped copper misappropriation scheme. Yeah, it’s only a penny, but one billion pennies amounts to ten million dollars. That’s quite a windfall. And who’s going to notice one measly penny missing from a transaction? It’s ingenious. I think I’m going to travel to China to see if I can get a job as a tax collector.

Just like the one-penny-per-transaction scheme, your mind is receiving one small impulse per nerve ending from the billions of nerve endings in your body. Individually, each impulse amounts to a very small amount of uniqueness. But taken together, the cumulative effect is a very large amount of uniqueness.

Therefore the natural effect that comes from just living your life passively, without anything special going on, is for you to experience a large amount of uniqueness coming from all the nerve endings in your body. And since a large amount of uniqueness means a large amount of change, and since change is life, and since life is automatically enjoyed, you experience a large amount of enjoyment from doing nothing in particular.

I call this Chinese Food Theory. I call it this because, just as there are a lot of Chinese people, there are also a lot of nerve impulses constantly arising from the nerve endings in your body. These nerve impulses do not have to form discernible patterns for you to enjoy them. Just like Chinese food. Even when you can’t figure out what it is, you can still enjoy it.

Chinese Food Theory states the following: An individual sensation arising in your body has a low level of uniqueness. But there are so many sensations arising at any given time, that in quantity they have a high level of uniqueness. This makes the sensations enjoyable, even when they form no discernible unique patterns.

This is why you can sit in meditation like some Buddha, and chant “Om Mani Padme Hum,” and experience the bliss of Nirvana. When your mind reaches the point of letting go of all mental thoughts and desires, it stops focusing on patterns that form from all the incoming nerve impulses. When your mind stops perceiving patterns, it is left with just the nerve impulses and the bulk uniqueness and enjoyment derived from them. It is a pleasant, blissful feeling.

[Tomorrow the pleasant, blissful feeling will disappear when a fat person steps on your toe. But at least this will give us an excuse to explore pain, and its relationship to uniqueness.]


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.]


Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 3, Dominatrix Theory, Part 5

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: Yesterday I pulled a practical joke on you. Or at least, I introduced Practical Joke Theory to you. Practical Joke Theory states: The more focused your awareness is, the less background awareness you have. And therefore the easier it is for some lout you’re barely aware of in your background, to pull a practical joke on you.

But one thing life has taught us about practical jokes is that payback can be a bitch. You may not like it when your victim focuses all his foreground awareness on you, and plots and plans. But today you may feel relieved to learn that no matter how much he wants revenge, he only has a limited supply of awareness . . .

Dominatrix Theory, Part 5

Real Estate Theory

I have some good news and bad news about awareness. The good news is that you will never lose the amount of awareness you currently have. The bad news is, you cannot create any more awareness than what you currently have. Awareness is a limited resource. It’s kind of like real estate. There’s only so much of it and no more, because no one’s making any more. But unlike an underwater mortgage that you’re allowing to go delinquent as you await an eviction notice, you will never lose any of the awareness you have now. You can’t buy or sell it on Ebay. You can’t give or receive it as a Christmas present. You can’t steal it from some drunk laying in the gutter. And he can’t steal it from you. Nor can you decide you have too much awareness and amputate some of it from your psyche. What you have you’re stuck with. And what you don’t have, you’re not going to get.

This is why Practical Joke Theory works the way it works. Awareness is in limited supply. If you focus 99% of your awareness on one narrow part of the environment, that leaves you with only 1% of awareness for everything else. You can’t manufacture additional amounts to fill in the void.

It’s like water in a tub. If a fat person sits in the tub, the water level may go up about a foot. But if a skinny person sits in the tub, the water level may only rise a few inches. But the amount of water in the tub doesn’t change, only the level. (Alright, alright, unless the person is so fat that the water overflows onto the bathroom floor. But let’s don’t get carried away here.) In the same way, the more you focus your awareness, the higher its level will be in the foreground while the lower it will be in the background. But the total amount of awareness within your consciousness will always remain the same.

You can consciously will your awareness to focus on some things, while virtually ignoring other things. For instance you can sit in your easy chair and watch the evening news while your wife sits next to you and gabs on with all the little meaningless chatter about what’s been going on in her life. Now, you can choose to focus on what she’s saying, while ignoring the TV news, or you can do what most thick-headed male schlubs do, and ignore her palaver while focusing on the boob tube.

Oh you’ll still be aware of what she’s saying, but it will be kind of like a buzzing gadfly in the background. And you’ll be responding by saying things like, “Uh-huh, uh-huh.” So when she asks for permission to spend $10,000 on a pair of diamond earrings, you will likely respond, “Uh-huh.” This will result in the checking account being overdrawn, but at least you won’t miss that great story about some jerk in Wisconsin winning a cheese-eating contest.

It’s all about focus. Focus determines what real estate your mind is going to dwell in. But it doesn’t change the total amount of real estate your mind owns.

Like, if you own a 160-acre farm, and you’re currently plowing the South Forty, you won’t notice that the cows have just gotten into the corn you’ve planted on the North Forty. But you still own the North Forty. You’re just not there tending to it at the moment.

I like the analogy with real estate so much, I’m going to name this Real Estate Theory. Real Estate Theory states that you have a limited amount of awareness, which you cannot increase or decrease. Focus can shift your awareness around, but it doesn’t change the amount of awareness you have. And the more awareness you place in the foreground, through focus, the less awareness will be available in the background.

So now you know how awareness and focus work. But I still haven’t answered the question that ended the last chapter. No, I’m not trying to evade the question. I’m just trying to establish some groundwork that I can use, in order to answer it as clearly as possible.

Let’s refresh our memory. The question is: Is it possible to focus on a change, to the exclusion of other changes, and still enjoy yourself?

The answer is yes, as long as you’re not focusing on a vicious Doberman Pincer that is about to attack you.

The key that determines whether or not you’re going to enjoy what you’re focusing on, lies in a concept known as Uniqueness. Uniqueness is the Holy Grail of Happiness. Because it determines whether you’re going to respond to something by saying, “Holy Cow!” or “Holy Shit!”

In fact, Uniqueness is such an important actor on the stage of happiness, that it must be covered in a separate chapter. So now, check out the spotlight, center-stage. It shines upon Uniqueness.

Take a bow, Uniqueness. You have become the main star.


Marie Lamba, author

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