God is Santa Claus for Adults

Whenever the topic of God or Faith comes up I always, always, always preface any of my thoughts or opinions with my statement of facts: Namely that I am in no way opposed to Christianity, nor the followers thereof. If your Belief system encourages you to be a good person and to contribute positively to the world around you, then far be it from me to stand in your way. (There is, of course, the matter of how we define “good person” and “contribute positively”, but that’s quite another matter entirely.) Though I have been labeled an atheist in the past, I do not personally identify myself as such. I will, however, admit that I deviate to some degree from traditional Christian Belief, but—importantly—I do not feel that my interpretation of God or Scripture necessarily precludes me from the Flock, let alone the mere discussion of deific topics. (God, if you’re listening, I’m sorry.)

Most of the world’s population lives in the norther hemisphere. And in the northern parts of the northern hemisphere, the world is cold and dark for a great swath of the calendar year. This cold and dark swath known as winter necessitates that folks remain indoors lest they freeze to death. This annual change from careless frolicking through long, warm days to wallowing indoors through short, frigid days is rather dismal and melancholy for humans, particularly the kids. Concurrent with the beginning of winter is the Christian celebration of Christmas—a time that most people spend visiting relatives. So not only are we forced indoors because of the weather, we must suffer the indignity of sharing this limited space with more people than we would otherwise. For obvious reasons, this is a recipe for mischief.

In an attempt to police children’s natural propensity toward listlessness and eventual misbehavior, we invented a deity of sorts—the kind of omnipresent (he sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake) and omniscient (he knows if you’ve been bad or good) character who has the ability to pass the final judgement on whether you, child, deserve the rapturous Elysium of a bountiful Christmas morning, or the abysmal, soul-crushing suffering of coal in the stocking.

Santa Claus is not real. I should think most adults have come to terms with this fact. But I verily say, if the idea of Santa Claus is enough to change children’s behavior for the better—especially at a time when they’re particularly prone to behaving like insufferable, snot-nosed bastards—then who am I to say he’s not real? After all, his effect is most certainly real, and where the rubber meets the road, what’s the difference?

Now imagine that Santa Claus held the same powers over adults as He does children, and that His Judgement is effective year-round. Imagine also that the moment of your Judgement was not Christmas Eve, but at your death and that both the rapturous Elysium of a bountiful Christmas morning as well as the abysmal, soul-crushing suffering of receiving nothing but coal lasted not for a day but for all eternity. This deity would be God. And if you haven’t made the connection yet, yes, I’m saying that God is not real any more so than the jolly, diabetic fellow at the north pole and his merry band of toy-making elves.

Now, I think we can all agree that it would be unconscionable to tell a child that Santa Claus is not real—at least not at the time in their young life that they believe, because it is this belief that causes the behavioral change that we seek as parents. But, paradoxically, I don’t think it’s unconscionable to tell a Christian that God is not real. The reason for this is because we all outgrow the belief in Santa, yet we continue to behave properly in his absence. Santa was just the intellectual training wheels we needed to make the connection between proper behavior and the Ultimate Good. This is the state of being that we all strive for; the state of being where we no longer need the threat of damnation nor the hope of salvation to be good. We just do it because it is right. This is Belief in its truest form.

The Only Skill You Will Ever Need

When I was a young’n, one of my grade school math teachers asked the class “What is the most important subject in school?”

What with it being a math class and all, we naturally said math.

“Wrong,” he replied matter-of-factly. “The most important subject in school is reading.” He then went on to explain that if what you know is math, then all you know is math. If what you know is science, then all you know is science. But if what you know is reading, then what you know is whatever you choose to learn.

That still sticks with me, after all these years. If you can read, then you can learn. And if you can learn, then you can accumulate wisdom. And if you can accumulate wisdom, it’s just a matter of time before the world is your oyster. With reading, all things are possible. In this manner, it is my God.

Of course, I need to make a little room in my theory for those who can learn better in a way that’s not sticking your nose in a book. Maybe you’re one of those people who learns through watching others. That’s fine, you can join us. Maybe you’re the type who needs to scrape your chin before you apprehend knowledge. God bless you, you’re one of us. Maybe you’re one of those rare breeds who doesn’t care for reading but can pick something up with your hands and understand it as thoroughly as if it were a part of you (lookin’ at you, tinkers). You’re part of the club, too.

As we can see, there are more ways to learn than merely reading and all methods are legitimate so long as the end result is the accumulation of knowledge. Bottom line: has learning occurred? So let’s not get too hung up on the reading phase of the success continuum and focus on the broader, more salient point: the ability to learn. I’ve written on how to get awesome at life by becoming more of a learner so you can follow the link for more specifics.

But first, we must understand that the ability to learn is, in and of itself, without limits. Often, however, we find that, where the rubber meets the road, it does have a limit. So what limits learning? To only limit to learning you will have in your life is dependent on one thing: your individual desire to learn.

Adjusting your desire to learn can be a difficult task. Some of us are inherently complacent, and don’t crave any more from this world. Some of us have self-esteem issues; we feel we don’t deserve any more. Some of us are scared, and that makes sense. Life is scary. But if any of these describe you, then all you need is a change in your perspective. The things that hold you back—complacency, shame, fear—are the very things that you can change about yourself. Trust me, you just have to get off your ass and do it. The ability to learn makes you limitless as an individual.

First you can learn about psychology and understand why it is you’re so messed up in the first place. Then you can learn about how to throw the monkey off your back and start living. Then you can learn about how to self-motivate. You can learn about all the possibilities that this world has to offer, and how other people have pursued them. Once you flip the switch in your mind that you will develop the skill of learning skills, there’s really no stopping the snowball effect. Armed with no other skill in the world but the ability to learn, you have a better chance than anyone else at shaping the world in your image, securing your legacy, and manifesting your own destiny, so stop reading right now and commit to learning how to learn.

Hipsters Technically Don’t Exist

In a Russell’s Paradox, the moment a particular circumstance is declared to be true is the precise moment that it cannot be true. Much like a Russell’s Paradox, hipsters don’t actually exist. They cannot.

Most are familiar with the ‘Barber’ paradox in which the barber shaves all—and only—those men of the town who do not shave themselves. In this case, who shaves the barber? Any attempt to answer this question lends itself to a contradiction in which the seemingly plausible scenario simply cannot be. This is hipsters.

Hipsters, for those who already know, seek in every way to differentiate themselves from the unwashed masses upon whom they rely on for figuratively everything, yet simultaneously disdain. You will see hipsters in cafes writing shit-tier poetry on a mac. You will see hipsters riding a fixie bike in formerly black neighborhoods, wearing clothes that make them look poor. You will see them on the interweb taking ironic photos of themselves with old-timey facial hair and drinking cheap beer. It’s all by design. The hipster code. And it’s instantly recognizable.

But therein lies the rub, for the principle tenet of hipsterdom mandates a wholesale refusal of conformity, and commensurate labels. Thus, for a hipster to call a hipster a hipster would be in violation of the first and only rule—Don’t Be Someone. But if nobody ever mentions the beanie-wearing elephant hipster in the room, then they cannot be said to exist at all. In other words, if a hipster is a hipster, then they cannot be a hipster, but if they are not a hipster, then there are no hipsters. I know this because Tyler knows this.

Any attempt to positively identify a hipster results in a cataclysm where you start speaking in tongues and the world opens up and swallows everyone involved and nobody even notices they’re gone and Thom Yorke’s there. Spooky.

How to: Be Awesome at Life

No doubt, dear reader, you will at some awe-inspired point of self-reflective reverie seek answers as to what makes the Albatross such an interesting and talented personality, and hope upon hope that he may reveal those things to you. Rejoice, for my messiah-like generosity will not forsake you, on this most hallowed eve: the eve of your rebirth. You will, after this blog post, have all the tools necessary to deftly navigate the world—your world. You will be able to marshal all your intellectual resources into a cogent plan for the future, and you will endeavor successfully to bring to bear upon all manner of hot chicks the full might of your essence in a most profound and kickass way. Indeed, your cup of knowledge shall runneth over. I do this for you, for I am a kind god.

The first thing you must do in order to be awesome is observe. You must observe the world around you and everything in it with hawk-eyed acuity. You must listen the words people use, the words they do not use, and the manner in which they use or do not use them. You must learn to instantly recognize and incise contradiction, parry prevarication, and duly squash logical fallacy. You must listen a great deal more than you speak.

Additionally, for however much you observe people’s words, you must pay tenfold more attention to people’s actions. According to the interweb, body language and nonverbals account for most of human communication. In fact, former FBI interrogators state matter-of-factly that it really isn’t hard to lie with words, but quite difficult to lie with your body (interestingly, it is often the feet that give away one’s true intentions.) So observe the unspoken communication that is so characteristic of human interaction.

Now, unless you have some preternatural cognitive ability to comprehend both man and machine, you will necessarily arrive at many questions to your as many observations. Thus, the other thing you must do in order to be awesome, is cultivate an insatiable curiosity. You must ask yourself why something is as many times as it takes to reach a point where understanding is complete. In other words, you must grok. If you do not understand how something works, you must take it as a personal affront to your intelligence. Imagine that one day you might find yourself in a post-apocalyptic oblivion wherein everything in your life is manifested directly by you and your knowledge base. Thus, the only things you would have in your life are those things that you understand well enough to build or manifest yourself. One way this can be accomplished is by reading. You must read incessantly. Develop your curiosity for all things and never stop learning.

So there you have it, two characteristics that used individually will serve you better than any other, and when used in conjunction will make you something of a minor deity: Observant & Curious. With this, you shall possess the most valuable skill in the world: the ability to learn any skill in the world, for it is from these headwaters that all of life’s truths inexorably flow, and the spring from which all your personal potential can be realized. In fewer words, this is the most efficient way to get awesome at life. You’re welcome.