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The Creation of Afterlife

I have spent the past few months designing a game called “Afterlife” to tackle a subject I’ve been exploring for many years now. That question has been: Who am I? Who are we?

I started the game more recently as a way to combat my mental illness and to deal with my disillusionment and separation from society that led to my ostracization and self-imposed exile. It was largely a coping mechanism and a challenge to design a game that encouraged me to work away from my desk. So instead of programming a game I began focus on building a game that you could hold in your hands and carry with you, one that I hope could even be used a tool for psychologists.

Who am I?

To date, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of self. Who am I?

  • Am I who or what you tell me I am?
  • Am I who I tell you I am, even if this is true or I don’t know?
  • If you don’t believe I am who I say I am do I have to go out of my way to convince you that I am what I am?
  • What if I convince you of a lie?
  • What do I have to do to prove to you that I am this?
  • What if you don’t believe the truth?
  • If I show you I am this, will you reward me, with love or some other way?
  • How does me being who I am help or hinder me from achieving the things I want?
  • What do my actions reveal about ‘who I am?’
  • Can I create the ‘me’ I want to be?
  • Does this creation make me, me?
  • Am I my ancestors, my mother, my father, God?
  • Am I my role, my marriage, a daughter, a father, a lover, a friend?
  • How do I behave to show you I am these roles?
  • What happens if I don’t behave in accordance to my roles, what do I lose if I am not what society says I should be?
  • Am I, my Ego, my I?
  • Am I my abilities, ex. Logical Brain vs. Creative Brain, Left vs. Right brain?
  • Am I what I do?
  • Am I my values?
  • Am I how well my relationships are doing, how my family is?
  • Am I my clan, tribe, culture, country?
  • Does this I change or remain constant?
  • Can I become someone else or make you believe I am someone else?
  • And if I am not my virtues, values, roles, these ever-changing concepts: Then what am I?

These are questions I’ve played with time and time again social constructs and concepts, the ever-changing ‘I’. I’ve read article after article, child developmental and attachment patterns, psychology after psychology book. I’ve done tests for self-discovery, personality tests, I’ve gone on in search of my purpose. Who am I, and what is my purpose in life? Is my function my purpose? My pen’s function is to write, but I can decide what its purpose will be, the bridge to an umbrella. My function is to reproduce but my purpose is anything I choose to do with it.

In some cultures Who am I is known as God, and in other cultures who am I is Nothingness from which all life springs. In some worlds who am I is “Ego”, it’s personality there’s even a shadow self, and others it’s just what our DNA says we are.

We spend a lot of time ‘covering up’ our “I”, who we are. Distracting ourselves with television, roles, relationships, sex, make-up. Burying ourselves into conditions. “I am my family, I am the success of my children, I am a Scientist, I am a Wife, I am Good, I am bad.”

Sometimes we ask superficially who am I? We do a personality test here or there and decide, “I” am an introvert, an extrovert, an INFP on the myer-briggs scale, a #4 on the enneagram. I’m a Pisces or a Cancer, a Gemini. I’m a Father, Lover, Bitch. I’m a writer, an artist. I am what I do.

And if you lost all your memories, if you lost all these things, what would you be? If you stopped running, if you abandoned everything even your own thoughts, who would you be—are you your thoughts? Your memories? What if you forget them? Then who are you?

This question is exactly what this game attempts to explore.

What is Afterlife?

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything but about unbecoming everything that isn’t you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

Afterlife is a card game about self-discovery. It’s a game of ungrowing. It’s a game that explores who you are by stripping away all the things that you are not. In most games you play with the goal of creating yourself into something. There are even a few games where you play in accordance to your beliefs and values and have them tested such that you build yourself into the person you are working to be.

Afterlife works in reverse.

In Afterlife you and whoever is playing with you have each died. Players create what is called a “Legacy Deck” this is similar to character creation in which you select the things that have made up what you left behind. Your personality traits that gave you trouble or aided you in life, roles that you lived, things or people you’re grateful for, even things you were ungrateful for, regrets. The legacies are divided into 6 categories that correspond with 6 different gates that have a series of challenges you will be passing through.

There are 6 levels or rounds also gates that the player has to play. Players will use their legacy deck to get through each of these challenges that test their values in the areas of: Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Spirituality (Your Outlook On Life).

These scenarios that are encounter are there to test the player’s legacy, beliefs and values. Consequently players can have their experiences translated into Karma Points (which are divided into Baggage and Legacy points), when they pass through the gate these points are transmuted into Wisdom Points once they let go of one of their 6 items that they are traveling with.

The goal of the game is self-discovery. The underlying concept is two-fold: that you can create whoever you want to be, but that what you create is not you.

You discover who you are by invoking or devoking your gifts, hindrances, roles, guardians, etc. and by reflecting on what those mean to you, how you’ll use it in a scenario and the affects it’s had on the world around you including yourself. So you can invoke bravery a gift or virtue, or you can take a vice/hindrance that you want to overcome and you can place it upside down to show that you are invoking it, or you can devoke it placing it upside down.

 You have to use the card 6x’s to remove it.  Alternatively I have thought about taking the gifts and hindrances deck and making them a single card that you can flip upside down or vice versa.

 Right now there are 6 Gates and challenges.

  • Gate 1, introduces the main environmental condition and setting that you’ll face.
  • Gate 2, introduces the main social condition and or reoccurring NPCs that you’ll face (2-5)
  • Gate 3, introduces a personal challenge or situation that you are in that will affect you (3-5).
  • Gate 4, introduces how you work together with people to solve problems (example bringing person from Gate 2 and/or 3 to justice), to solve the mystery. Here players come together to solve a problem that was introduced in Gate 2 & 3.
  • Gate 5, This is what you do to others in response to what has been done to you, when faced with the demons you encountered in Gate 3 and Gate 2.
  • Gate 6, introduces your ability to heal and your outlook on life after events that occurred to you.

 Gates are essentially the challenges, the levels, you have to pass,  and they are colour coordinated as well. By the end of the game players should have explored and peeled away all of the things that are ‘not’ them to face what’s left at the end.

Where did Afterlife come from?

I designed the original concept of “Afterlife” while I was in Game Development school sometime during 2013 or 2014. During that time I was struggling with depression and had the idea of a game that could help you discover who you were.

For one of my assignments we had to take a traditional board game and recreate it. I chose the ancient Egyptian game Senet. In my research of Senet I was fascinated by what the game represented, a spiritual journey through death. I love Mythology and the idea of passing trials in a game to get your heart weighed seemed awesome. I also loved death and studying the different mythologies people have when it comes to the afterlife.

In one culture Mesopotamia there is Irkalla, and the story of Inanna-Ishtar and her descent into Irkalla the realm of the Goddess of Death, Ereshkigal. In it Inanna must pass through each gate of the underworld one at a time to reach Ereshkigal the goddess of Death. At each gate she is asked or told to remove an article of clothing, until she reaches the final gate, removes her final article of clothing and is finally standing naked before the Goddess Ereshkigal herself.

I read a wonderful interpretation of this, that this journey was about the Goddess stripping away all the things that she was not, to reveal who she truly is underneath at the core.

In Ancient Egypt or Kemet, the Goddess Ma’at weighs your heart in the underworld, and you travel through a river, there is even a risk of being devoured by the crocodile Ammut. At least if memory serves me correct, it’s been a while and I am a bit rusty in my mythology.

Taking the ancient Egyptian game Senet, I created a board game divided by colour into regions, with a deck of cards. Each area had a gate at the end of the trial. Throughout the game there was a risk of being devoured by Ammut in true death if you failed to pass, and at the end your heart would be weighed and what would be done with you based on your previous actions were decided.

I had only one week to put the game together, so it was incomplete. Later I would try to build on the concepts of that game in a Table-Top RPG I was designing called “Sanctuary”. Because I had never played a table-top RPG I went off to find a game, and ended up sucked into an RPG world for 3 years where I ended up in a tornado of a relationship. When that relationship finally ended I remembered what I had gone off to do in the first place and picked up the game where I had left off after a slight detour.

More recently I read the book “The Four Agreements” and listen to Philosophers like Alan Watts talk about “Death” and the idea of ‘symbolic death’. In this way “Afterlife” represents symbolic death and resurrection from which we discover who we are, we empty our cup of those ideas, and we decide what we want to be. And what to do with this knowledge.

 

What are my hopes for the game?

Currently the game is still being designed and tested. My hopes however are that the game can help people on their journey of exploration and self-discovery; and that it can be used not just as a self-help tool and a get-to-know you tool for people on a more intimate level.

I also hope that it can be a useful tool in psychology, among close friends, or even individually as the game is designed to play with 1 person at minimum.

I’d like to see more games created as a tool to help and encourage people to think and look within themselves, to ask questions about the things they do and the affects they have on the world around them, and this is the first game that I’ve created that has entered in the gameplay testing phase and is not just stuck in the development loop.

 

What Are the Challenges in creating this game?

 

Depression & Lifestyle Changes

Depression was a constant challenge for me. Unlike my previous game Winter solstice which was a game I was programming in Unity this game actually helped ease me through my depression and was a comforting journey. Working on it and researching for it helped distract me and ask me questions in my own life and deal with that constant theme. I had also gone through a pretty intense but necessary break-up with someone who had been my focus for the past 3 years. The finally straw came when I lost even my “Hope” that we could ever get back together and work on the things that had gone wrong. This was impossible to fix she said because the fact was she didn’t love me and was tired of hurting me because of that. This led me to realize that I had lived most of my life looking for Hope in people and things, Hope that life could get better. And when even that symbolic representation of Hope was gone, I was left with the question. Who am I without hope?

Even in the game I entered a part where I couldn’t go on with it because the loss of my love wearing her face was standing in the way. And so getting over my love became part of the game, facing it and letting it go. Consequently designing the game helped me get through my depression and working through my depression helped me with the game, as the game is designed to ask questions about who we are when we lose something that is important to us or leave it behind, and who we are underneath the surface of us that keeps changing.

Managing Bipolar Lows

Bipolar lows triggered in response to loneliness and break-ups were an added bonus challenge, worse than the depression were suicidal bipolar lows that got really bad. There was just no way that I could work during my intense lows. I could try but some days I could only just open up the word document or walk around with a piece of paper and stare. I had to cut myself a lot of slack here. I tend to cope with depression and bipolar lows by finding meaning and purpose in spirituality and Love. So I read a lot of books, during these moments there was not much of anything I could do and at times I feared that the game would never get finished.

Creative Blocks & Design Mechanic Challenges

Another challenge were roadblocks like, how do I create a game that asks people to be introspective and look within themselves, that challenges players to ask the very basic question: Who am I without this part of me? In the game everything that you think you are is represented as an article of clothing or some other object and you leave it behind at the end of each gate. Before and After actions and after passing each gate you ask a series of some of the most basic questions. You ask why you are doing what you are doing? What do you hope to achieve? Did it have the effect you wanted? Who did it hurt and who did it help, and did you care? and so forth.

Because the game is meant to be a tool creating tools within the game mechanics that encourage self-reflection in a fun and creative way has been a challenge as well as creating an introspective game that successfully helps the player realize what they were doing and how to arrange and present that is and continues to be a challenge that I continue to chip away at each day.

To tackle some of these mechanics I began researching to see what popular games were out there, were there any games close to mine, how had they done it, and what features could I try to incorporate into my game, what were already like my game, and how could I keep it simple with minimum to no artwork.

Mechanics

I began researching popular card games like Uno, Cards Against Humanity, Apples to Apples, Incan Gold, Monopoly (card game), and Life (card game).

I researched RPG Card Games and began looking into things like Deck of Fate, Despair Decks, and explored mechanics like that of Tarot Decks and the Witcher game.

I studied various table-top RPGs too to look into some of the systems that they had: DnD system, Fate, Call of Cthulhu, Freeform diceless systems, Burning Wheel (recently discovered), Pace RPG, and mutants & masterminds.

The goal was to take the things that worked, leave out what didn’t. I also had to figure out if players would interact with each other and the environment and how, and am still working on those details. A rule of thumb for myself is if I can think it, it’s been created so I go on a search for finding similar games and discovered Burning Wheel.

Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery Tools

I read self-help after self-help book, self-discovery tools, reviewed psychology tools, techniques, methods, Buddhism and so forth trying to narrow down some methods. I also explored challenges and disasters and situations that would best reveal or cause us to reveal ourselves under stress, and began compiling a list and the mechanics in which that list could be used and how.

Simplicity

One of my goals is to keep the game as simple as possible while also being fun. My target-audience isn’t your everyday typical RPG gamer who want to level up and kill things. It’s primary targeted towards people who would be interested in games on a therapeutic level. Because of this my goal is to add elements I like from some of the complex games but keep it as simple as possible. It’s because of this I’ve tried to figure out is this an RPG card game, a card game, or a table-top RPG with card elements? I’m still working on narrowing down how to categorize it.

Budgets, Time, Scale & Medium?

Another challenge for the game was figuring out what my budget for the game was and then trying to decide what type of game this would be. At first, the game was going to be a board game, but the time of developing the board and the art that went into creating it, and then the fact that I didn’t know how to divide the cardboard into 4 squares to fold up and so forth just added to the challenge, cost and development time.

I began researching popular card games like Cards Against Humanity and their method of using print-to-play for free and offering another version that could be brought. This seemed like the most cost reasonable. So I removed the board game altogether and focused on cards.

After that it was trying to figure out how to keep the card game cost and scale down and manageable.

    

Balancing Marketing & Creation

Balancing Marketing while also creating the game was another challenge as a sole developer. My goal became creating the basic game and mechanics of it, to test it, and then get a playable product. Currently my strategy for marketing involves getting a playable product, asking a few people to test the game including psychologists, listening to feedback, tweaking and doing a kickstarter to gauge interest. I still have much to research here, but I can’t Market and Create at the same time. This post is a sign that I’m almost ready to begin presenting a product that players can test and marketing will begin once I finish narrowing things down.

Another challenge has been balancing this site and my overall goals and blog and separating it from my game content.

Closer To The Finish Line

It’s been a long and painful few months in game development, but I am so close to getting a playable product out there. It’s truly been a journey. The fact that I am able to write this post is a good sign that things are coming along and almost ready to be presented to the public for testing.

 

When There is No Hope There is Only Love

 

My Confession

A recent stint in depression has hit both me and my work hard. I’ve spent the past few days meditating on Love, my mental illness, my game, parenthood, and sea of failed relationships. I think about the people who leave my life in swarms, who place the fair conditions on me that if I can’t be normal that I am too toxic or too weird to be in their life. So I meditate on love and kindness and try to undo all that I’ve learned in insecurity, and embrace security. I listen to motivational tapes, read self-help books, I distract myself, bury myself into my work, even Buddhism. I shift focus. I smile, I laugh. I receive a text on my birthday that there is no hope for me and that the doors are forever closed and that she will never allow herself to let me into her heart again because she believes she is inherently ‘bad’ and will not take part in hurting me anymore. No matter how much I grow, learn, no matter how genuine my heart is, or how strong I become, I am not the thing she wants. That it will always be her using me to scratch an itch, never her loving me. Yes, look at me, falling apart over a woman who has never treated me with respect, who has from the start told me she didn’t care about me and would abandon me if push came to shove and who has time and time again thrown me under the bus to protect her social status. Who had presented to the world that I was insane, that I was no one, and presented to me that only what she said to me not what she said to others mattered. But what she said was always in flux, bitter and filled with swords one day, neutral the next. Filled with promises and dreams, but always standing me up or filling it with something else. I had to beg to be seen by her.

To me she said she cared, to everyone else she shared in their gossip and talk about me, told them lies, painted it as though she was a victim of my obsession, but never revealed the conversations where she said she needed me in her life. To me, she made promises and shared dreams of adventures, and enjoyed my dreams discussing them. Flip flopping back and forth weaving a web of lies and illusions. She pretended to want me in her life, only to reveal one day that she had never wanted me at all, and just enjoyed the companionship I had to offer. Nostalgia she says, does not mean want. She offers me the opportunity to be her fuck buddy, friends with benefits? I decline, remembering how painful it felt to be an object, to desire connection, to search for her heart and only feel pain. Odd as it was, I loved her, it wasn’t her behaviour, but her underneath it all, and the yearning that if I could reach her, if I could reach her underneath it all that she would reach me, and that in that reaching we wouldn’t have to be alone. Why my heart wanted it to be her? I will never know.

The back and forth behaviour that she warned me about still would have me on my knees, and I would stand up again and again, promising to be stronger, getting stronger a little bit every day. I realized at the end of the day all I wanted was for her to look upon me with the eyes of love and say, I want you. I may not be able to be there right now, but I want you. You are no less, you are no different, even if we have to be far apart, I want you in my life and I do love you. And I carried on in the hope, that one day, after all the blood and toil, she’d look at me, genuinely look into my eyes, and she would see me, and I would see her, and she’d say this and mean it. Not just something she was trained to say, or learned to say, or kinda felt but didn’t. But to say it and really mean it. I yearned from it, and not just from her, but from the world.

There were days when she would say something close to it, but if she ever did she would take it back the next. Later she would tell me she left me because this was who she was, she could never be anything different, and it broke her heart to see me suffer. “I’m not going to change, I don’t want the things you want, and I won’t take part of hurting you”, she goes on, “I want you to be loved by someone with all their heart, I don’t want you to have to deal with this, I want you to have happiness. I don’t want you to chase after someone who isn’t chasing you back, who doesn’t have a reason to chase you back. I miss us, but I’ve shut the door forever. Love someone else.”

I remember in the earlier days I would cry and beg her to let me go, it hurt too much to hold onto someone who couldn’t love me. I can’t, she said. I can’t. But even when she did, I struggled to do the same. Now it’s my turn to let her go. Be there as my friend, she begs me. I don’t need a lover, I have one, but I desperately need a friend. I have so few close friends in my life, I need you as my friend. To catch me if I fall. I’m terrible with relationships, I want the one I have to work. Support me from afar, but if you can’t even do that without me hurting you, then for you and for me I have to let what’s left of this go.

So I do. I struggle with my own demons on my own, but I cannot turn away her heart’s request. I call myself her Raven, and she dubs me Diaval. I stay close beside her, trying to learn who I am, and the demons I fight and battle alone. She watches, never coming to my rescue, and I drown trying to figure out how to save myself from me.

The Truth Is

Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings.

Sutta Nipata 1.8

 

The truth is, I am no more capable of romantic love, than she says she is capable of authentic love. I love her, in a way that has nothing to do with romance and friendship. The second truth is, I am not capable of basic friendship to most people. I love in a way that is different in reflection to society. I love in a way that society shuns and would crucify me for. I love in a way that society says is wrong. Without boundaries, without walls, blind to social constructs, with true and complete freedom, without condition.

I’ve tried to go through romance to reach her beyond this because I yearn to be loved from a genuine place that I struggle to hold within myself. The world is a mirror and in my mirror I see the loop of rejection, pain, and abandonment. I see the constructs we’ve made, and we believe and we make real. It doesn’t matter if the world believes a lie, if the majority believes it and supports it, this lie becomes their truth, becomes the reality.

Friendship and Friend zones hurt because Society views friendship at a lower level, they are sacred because we don’t need to value them close to our heart, we don’t have to protect them or cherish them, there’s no “security” in the ones we give to ‘love’, no social constructs and laws protecting friendship the way they do contracts involving love. We can drop them without warning, we can throw them away, we can stratify them and stretch them apart. You abandon your friends not your spouse, you break commitments and promises that have meaning with your spouse—not to your friends, their pain doesn’t matter. You love your spouse, not your friends. You care for your friends, but you don’t love them. You would stand up for your spouse or a child and take a bullet for them, but society shuns the idea of taking one for your friend. Such acts of courage are called selflessness and bravery, we admire it in people because we would never do the same. Your spouse is your #1 family, your friends whether we agree or not are simply followers and only if they themselves are not following their spouse. You build love and legacies with the people you love, you leave behind the people you don’t.

If the entire world knew how to love without walls, knew how to care without segregation wouldn’t it be better? But instead we say, you can be loved, and you can’t, you are worthy of my love and respect, and you are not. Then I would never have any need to seek a relationship out of anyone because love would be everyone, abundant, in everything, shining through every single heart. I could drink from the rivers, I could dance. If the world is a mirror, I could look out onto the world and see love reflecting from it, back onto me, and my love in myself would be self-affirmed.

But life doesn’t work that way. Life can only reflect back what ‘we’ see. If we want the world to reflect and glow with Love we have to correct our vision and our eyes, and to do that we have to become Love and to do that, I truly believe that we have to emanate unconditional love and happiness that is self-illuminating, that is not dependent on any one or thing.

It is for this reason that I believe that the greatest gift she could ever give me is closing her doors and showing me how cold the world really is. Through her I see the closed doors of the world reflecting back at me, and through the world, I see me, my heart, closed, my windows closed. This is the wrong way to Love, not the right way. And I will spend an eternity learning how to love. I took up the Buddhist’s path because I don’t want it to take a hundred more doors for me to see what it means to love, truly, genuinely love without need or desire, without want, from anyone or anything. To allow it flood in and heal me, to allow myself to be as such that I can contain both realities. The reality of the loveless world we live in now and the reality of the world full of love that exists shining beneath everyone and thing.

My goal is to embrace this love, to stop reaching people through the shadows of romantic love and everything else, to love genuinely love, from within myself, without need. It’s hard. This path that I walk and preach is hard, I want to quit so often because it hurts. If it were so easy everyone would take up this path and love the way I speak of, to love as Jesus Loves, to love as God Loves, to love as Buddha loves, but it’s not easy, that’s why it’s a practice, that’s we struggle with it, and that’s why not everyone does it.

The greatest gift she could ever give to me was to let go and stick to her choice so that I could learn to love as I am meant to love, not through one singular person or entity. Not through need, or desire, or from a place of lack, but from a place of abundance, of needlessness. To be to others what I seek from myself. This is hard. And I struggle with it, but it is my path, and I walk it and every encounter I have will always lead me back to this most singular path. There is no greater thing than this. This is my work, and everything else will always distract me from it, and I will always distract others from my work if I pursue them. Consequently I pursue myself, whole-heartedly. No matter how hard it is, no matter how much I want to quit. I pursue me, and being one with myself, and the universe, the reality of it. We’re all dripping in roles and acting and plays, but underneath it all, underneath the grime, there we are. And that’s where I want to be, where I’m trying to be. But right now there are moments when I have to admit, it is simply hard, and just plain hurts.

 

The Struggle Within Society

I will always struggle to understand the high demands of society and the games we play. I never could fit societies shoes so I had to custom make my own, and at times I had to go without.

I cannot understand society or my place in it. I’ve spent my life trying to make sense of society. Social made-up constructs that determine our roles, and who we can love, and how we can love, and who we must cut out, and why. Constructs like Marriage, and 9-to-5 jobs, and personality and Ego, and Education, and economies. I would sit reading day in and day out about how it all works, and love. Romantic Love, what is it, is it real, and what is beyond Love. And what is beyond us. What are we made of, and how. I looked out my window at the world and yearned to be a part of a world where I’ve never felt like I quite belong.

I hid my heart and struggles from people for fear that people would never be capable of loving me, the real me, whoever it was, how could they? How could anyone love the real me, when they spend their lives unable to love their real selves, unable to look beneath it. They can’t love me, they can’t know me, if they can’t even love themselves, if they don’t even know who they are beneath all their roles, and make-up, and games. And I can’t love them if I am blinded by all of, if I keep trying to meet them through it. And I’ve struggled to let go of it all, and struggled to wipe away all that is not me, to find all that I am, and consequently be at peace in a world that is unable to break away from the game, that doesn’t want to and has no motivating factors to. And sometimes I wonder if I don’t want to break away from the game so much that I want someone to play the game, a game, any game that sees the truth and the reality beneath it with me; and yet when the veil is pulled that too becomes pain.

It is in the darkness of my hopelessness, it is my running from the games that hurt me so much to play that I ask myself, Who am I? I am Love. But was I really? All that Love was fueled by hope.
When she texted me, “Stop hoping, there is no hope.”
I realized Hope and Optimism is what drives me, the idea that we can dream any dream we want—but if you take away my Hope, if you fill me with hopelessness, what is there? There is only myself, there is only the present. Why does it feel bad? If I rub my fingers across the grime on the window and peel it all away, even without Hope, I am still me, and what is me, beyond me? Love. I am still Love, and yes. Being Love hurts when we’re still struggling with the social constructs of what it means to really love.

I have spent this entire journey wiping away the grime of everything that is not me, unlearning society, emptying my cup, ungrowing, undoing everything Society told me that I am not. Even my mental illness which rests on the surface layers interacting with the world through my thoughts is not me, if I wipe away the grime, who am I? What am I? All the things I am running from, underneath the surface is the nothingness, the emptiness, The Love. I’m still Love.

Yes it’s hard, this path I’ve chosen is hard. Yes it’s going to continue to be hard. Yes there will be hard times, and good times, they’re not bad they’re not good, they’re just times. I am yearning always yearning to go back to conditions, to go back to false love and pretend. But like her decision to never go back, I have to be firm to never go back to a time when the love I had and was giving was not real. This is real love, this is true, this is authentic, it doesn’t get any more purer than this, no matter how lonely it feels.

I have to be firm. I can’t let myself love anyone from that false place, that place is where the bipolar and insanity is at, that place is where the insecurity and the thoughts and false love is at. This place is beneath all the layers of my thoughts, is where it’s real. It’s not friendship, it’s not romance, I hate people calling me that as though that is what I am when like my gender I feel like I am beyond all that, maybe not in their eyes but for me and my relationship with the world and people I am fluid, ever-changing always present, and yet always constant at the same time. I am what’s behind the veil, the mystery, I am Love, and this is it. Whether people close their doors to it, or look away, this is who I am, it’s where I will always be, like air, I simply exist, being breathed in and being breathed out, it’s what I am underneath it all. I am them, and they are me.

This is it. It’s always going to be it. And it’s always going to be a struggle a fight to maintain it, to walk the path, it’s never going to be easy. Being who we truly are without running. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up, that doesn’t mean I have to stop trying. This is it. And I’m still here, and this is me. This is who I am.

I renounce the social constructs of relationships, and all that are contained within them. I am not a social construct or a concept. I am beyond that.

There is never going to be another relationship and if anyone truly ever loves me or even just genuinely cares about me. With their entire heart or otherwise, they will never ask me to be in a romantic relationship with them, and I will never ask them, and more than that, they will never ask me or box me into categories and boxes, like “lover” or “friend”, maybe to them, but I am way more than just a concept or social construct. I am NOT those things, to anyone. I exist to simply be seen as what I am. Light, Energy, Love, Freedom, Boundless, free-flowing.

This path to be present with myself, what I am, in a world that rejects it on the societal structure and level is hard. It’s never going to be easy. It may take work, a lot of work to see it, and be with it, to stay with it, and not cover it up with roles and make-believe, but this is it

That’s what I am, and it is what I will always be.

It Takes Falling

It took me running from myself, to the point of exhaustion, to the point of sitting at the edge of a cliff just to get away from myself to make the pain stop to see. Up until now I blamed me for everything. It’s my bipolar, my anxiety, my depression, my introversion, it’s my ego, my personality, all these things that are to blame for why nobody loves me or wants me or sees me for what I am.

I am not the categories and labels people keep forcing me into and people aren’t the categories and labels I keep forcing them into. It’s not us. It’s never going to be us. Never.

I am not just bipolar. Sure. It is a layer, a chemical layer, but it’s not me. If you peel it away there is more beneath it, a constant that doesn’t change with my mind.

Mental illness may define my interactions in life sure.

But there’s something else deeper than all of that and that’s what I live for.

And it’s only when I’m alone, it’s only when I’m not pursuing people, only when I’m not running, only when I’m letting myself look that I can see what it is. Hidden beneath all the grime, hidden beneath the heart of the game, that I can really see what I am and what we really are. I really, genuinely am light, love and energy, I think we all are but I really can only speak for myself. I see me.

I know most people think it sounds stupid and ridiculous

But most of my struggle is learning how to be present and stay with myself long enough to give myself the courage to feel what I am underneath all the shit. The surface shit, the shadow, to just be me, underneath it all. How can I want to be loved, when I am love? It’s a process allowing myself to be love and feel love from a different place other than from the place I’ve been taught to look outside of me. The me that is deficient without societal approval. It’s hard but I’m working on being present with the one thing I use conditions and the world around to cover up: Me, and what’s beneath it. Not the illusions, but what’s real. Only then when I can see me, can I look at the world and see it’s true reflection without the pain, only then can I see through all the doors. To do that requires me to be present and learn to sit with myself. And it’s always going to be hard, being who you really are underneath it all, that Love, Light, Energy, learning to sit still long enough to stop fighting long enough to let it shine through, undoing all that we’ve learned is always going to be hard. No way around it but that’s the path I wanted to walk and so I’m walking it.

In Short

It’s Hard, being alive, living and being present with reality and who we truly are that’s hard. This is my path it’s the one I chose.

I was asked what does this all mean and so here is the summary:

  1. When there is no hope there is only what is. (I call it love, light, energy)
  2. I’m the one who chose to ask a million questions. I asked to see what was, and I got it. Now I have to deal with it and the path it’s set me on. (I asked, the universe granted whether I liked it or not, no take backs, how can I go back to the illusions and be content with that when I’ve not yet learned to embrace what really is, and when what really is, is 100x’s more beautiful?)
  3. My chosen path of love and seeing what is real, is hard, really fucking hard
  4. But it’s going to be hard, and that’s OK.

 

The path I’m on happens to be the path of seeing the world and myself for what it really is and loving it genuinely and unconditionally and being happy unconditionally in spite of what I see without adding thoughts of this is bad or not bad. It means that I have to do hard things like sit with the pain of being myself and listen to see through it all, and then I have to accept it, embrace it, myself and all that I am, discarding all that I am not. And that anything that takes me off the path that keeps me from doing the thing I asked to do in the first place has to be renounced, and all so I can love the way I want to love, beneath constructs, labels, categories, and all that isn’t, no matter how much it hurts to be here loving by myself. I asked for this, it’s painful, but it is what I got, and I can’t take it back now that I am on it.

This is what that path looks like, and it is not a walk in the park. That’s why society doesn’t run to do it in droves, it’s why we only tend to do it when we’ve had enough pain and falsehoods and are ready to embrace something beyond that.

The Unconditional Life: A Series On Cultivating Unconditional Love

This post is a Table of Contents presenting the start of an ongoing series related to cultivating the Unconditionals required for living The Unconditional Life. In this way Life is synonymous to our method or lifestyle that enables us to serve and live with true Unconditional Love.

  1. We Are Small, To The Big Vast Sky – In this article I challenge us to view problems and struggles we face from the conditional perspective of time.
  2. Mastering Reality – preparing our mind to be rewired for change and why we’d want to.
  3. The Prevailing Method – reflects on the prevailing method of Meditation for doing this and the challenge to apply it to our lives.
  4. The Unconditionals – the unconditionals required for cultivating wisdom, this takes the form of the Unconditional Life as I have learned to perceive it in this moment.

Introduction

Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings. – Sutta Nipata 1.8

Most of my work is focused on Love, Unconditional Love and serving with that Love through our livelihood and lifestyle. From as far back as I can remember feeling as though something was wrong with me. Consequently from the age of 7 possibly before that I went on a quest to learn all I could about myself and the world around me with the goal of ‘fixing’ me. Not surprisingly this desire to fix myself was also reflected in my belief that the world was broken and needed to be fixed. This view was a reflection of the state of my mind.

I felt and experienced the world differently and still continue to. I questioned everything right down to reality, who we are and our experiences in it. I lamented love and our inability to accept and love each other as we are with freedom, understanding, and the conditions we imposed and the abandonment that resulted from it. I’ve since learned that we can’t give what we don’t give ourselves and that how we treat others is a reflection of our own inner-world. To fix the world we must start where we are and fix ourselves. It’s the only thing we can fix.

I consequently spent most of my life looking for an antidote for my mind a way to fix myself. To date the solution I have found was the very balm I needed and sought from others: Unconditional Love, Freedom, Acceptance — Happiness. It’s been said that if we want to receive something we must learn to give it, and so I’ve built and continue building my life around the cultivation and concept of Unconditional Love healing ourselves with it, and serving the world through our lifestyles pertaining to it.

I spend a lot of my time behind the scenes doing one of three things: Researching, Developing Tools, and Cultivating a Lifestyle conducive to the values that I have. The tools I prioritizing working on developing are related to self-discovery and exploration, with themes like: Death, love, emptiness, source, yin/yang, and more.

To date I read various books from spiritual teachers and ordinary people searching for insight and wisdom, as well as meditating and reflecting on my own insights and evolving wisdoms. I don’t feel I have anything new to really say that hasn’t been said before more eloquently than others, but I do repeat the message that my heart desires to speak from all that it has learned while simultaneously planting seeds in my work and life as part of my practice of cultivating unconditional love, wisdom and well-being in my own life.

It is with my wish that the tools I develop, the work I create and the life I cultivate and live will be of use to the world and serving the people in it.

Love Is A Flower, Water It Gently To Grow, Then Leave It Alone

One day my ex-girlfriend said to me, “You keep trying to show me some enlightened way to love. But I don’t want that. I like where I’m at, I’m comfortable in the darkness. And the more you try to ‘love’ me authentically the more I’ll push you away.”

Things have changed for me since that day. On that day I very much believed that if I loved her genuinely and authentically, compassionately that in time she would come to the place of Love with me, that we could exist inside source and Love together, that we could transcend romance and friendship and time. I believed we were mirrors, extreme opposites, paradoxes, that we were meant to be together and that together we could return home. Whether this is true or not isn’t the point. Can you tell I am a romantic?

It is only recently that I’ve come to accept that Love and relationships will always be difficult for her to maintain, and that the intensity of my empathy to her sociopath create an unusual paradox. That my role in her life is to watch her share her life with another; whomever she and they so choose. That she doesn’t do emotions, let alone love, and when she wants to do them, it won’t be with me.

Still. Even though it was never equal in intensity, and even though I must Love her quietly in the darkness. It is through the trials of our relationship that I began to glean a lot of insights that I would later come to use today to grow. And it is through her continued friendship with me despite my slow attempts to Love her in the way that she needs, that is casually and distantly as an acquaintance on the breeze, that I have learned to reign back my love, and perhaps the most important lesson I want to share about Unconditional Love as a flower, even when it does not manifest in the way you would like it to.

People are Flowers, Flowers Are Love

In this analogy people are flowers, and all flowers are love. We must cultivate the love within ourselves and grow. Not all of us are able to feel love or understand or even make sense of love. And some of us once loved so greatly that when our heart broke we shut out all love and let in only darkness. The woman I loved was a bit like that, incapable or unwilling to Love many people, least of all me after the loss of someone important to her, and in her small baby steps I soon came to realize that there are some people we meet who are unable to open their hearts and love again let alone transcend in this lifetime or form.

For those who choose to live and serve with love, unconditional authentic Love, it is our job to Love them and others without expectations, to accept them as they are and let them be, and to focus inward on ourselves, if not for them but for us and our own wellbeing. We are flowers, and what we are growing into is pure authentic Love. Loving Kindness, Appreciation, Acceptance, Understanding, Serving without conditions.

When we are truly secure and can meet our own needs, there is no greater feeling than that type of giving to ourselves in the reflections of all those who appear outside ourselves.

You water your flowers by stepping back and letting them grow

Love is a garden of flowers. You look at a flower in your garden and you say grow. You tell it to be a flower now, but a flower has to be watered at its own pace, you have to be gentle with it, and you can’t push it or force it, or overwater it, or it’ll drown and die.

Then when that flower grows, the greatest love you can do is to leave the flower alone and let it be. There is an old quote floating around that states when you like a flower you pluck it, but when you love a flower you water it daily and leave it be. Let nature do its work, all life will unfold in time. Maybe not the way you wanted, but the way it was meant to be, we can learn to see the beauty in that if we let it.

The Right Amount, Is Unique To The Flower

To water a flower we must first ascertain the right amount. Too much water and your garden’s flowers will drown, too little and they’ll wither. You need to give them the right amount, just the right amount. Not only this but there are hundreds of thousands of flowers. Each with their own requirements for how much or how little water it needs. Some need a drizzle, some need a storm, but sprinkle just enough on the seed that it needs, no more than, no less than.

Patience, The Flower Does The Work

It’s the flowers job to grow, not your job to make it grow. It is the flowers job to allow itself to Love. You can’t make it Love, you can’t impose your will onto it, you can’t make it go faster. It unfolds in its own time at its own pace. The flower grows in its own time. You merely sit back and watch and enjoy.

Lao Tzu once said, “Nature does not rush and yet everything is accomplished.” trust it to grow and unfold in its own time, in its own way, and appreciate the result and the process of the unfolding as it manifests to you in any given moment.

The Process Is What Makes The End Valuable, Not Just The Result

When we are cultivating Love we can be hard on ourselves, especially as we fall or those around us fall many times. We often tend to only see through our current lens of what is, and not at the actual objective reality. For every perspective there are over a thousand more ways to view the outcome and the journey.

Here we take on the view that it’s the process, the struggle, the ups and the downs that make the end result valuable. It’s how we learn what we need to learn, it’s what gives us wisdom. If we can find value and enjoy the meditative process of tending to our own gardens we unlock the keys to enjoying life right until the end.

The Right Type Of Love

I often use the word Love, but Love as I define it will never be Love as society defines it. The Love as society defines it is conditional, it’s filling roles, it’s acting. It’s out of needs and insecurity. The Right type of love is unconditional, it’s pure, it’s self-sustaining, self-fulfilling, it’s balancing. Each person has gone through the Source, God, Love, Energy, either together or on their own, such that they replenishes each other by replenishing themselves. This type of love no one has to change, each person is their most authentic self. There are no roles to fill. The person can come and go freely into your garden, but more than not this person chooses to stay on their own accord. Each person is secure, and where insecurities lie they work through them.

In many ways Love is Freedom. It’s a bird, it’s a flower. You want to hold Love in your hand with an open hand not a closed fist, or else it will smother and die. With true unconditional love it’s nurturing, it’s healing, it doesn’t ask more than you can give, it accepts you as you are, it sees you as you are. And yet despite all of this it chooses to sit in your presence of its own accord. It feels like home without you ever having to be or do anything different than what you already are.

You are a Guide, a Gardener

You show the Way by living and being the way. You show love by being Love. There is no other way. You can’t give love, love isn’t yours, and love isn’t theirs, but it can be allowed to shine through you as a conduit from our source. Love is something that has to be allowed to shine through. It’s not something you have to say or prove, it’s something you simply be, quietly. Try it, go about doing things tenderly and lovingly in your life. Never say the word Love, just show it in your way, however you are capable of. Be genuine, authentic, from your heart to those around you. If someone claims you are not loving them enough when you are loving with all that you are able in this moment, recognize that it’s not anyone elses job to know when you are doing things from a place of Love, only yours. Serve with love, but don’t say it. Be as Love, the way a river just be’s as a river and flows. Not everyone can hear the words I Love you, and certainly not from the contexts as it is defined here. It’s OK to say it genuinely to say it to the world, but feel it, let it shine through you, it’ll show in your gentleness and respect to other beings.

At the end of the day your actions, your heart will always speak a greater volume than your words.

Remember, The Vast Majority Of The World Isn’t Ready To Love

If you look out at the world you see many people playing many different types of games, and none of those games have much to do with unconditional, authentic love. It is very exclusive membership status. Lots of war, suffering, pain. If you show them another way they’ll only scoff and look down on it. It’s honorable they might say or foolish, but it’s not the game they choose to play.

The world is not ready to love, and there is not much you can do about that except love them unconditionally ‘as they are’, and just let people be. We cannot save people, people are not fixable. We can love them genuinely and authentically all day long, but people don’t want to be saved. They’ll stop playing the game when they are ready, when they are tired.

To share a story, the pattern of my former relationship had been me trying to love her authentically, not romantically but from an authentic, genuine, unconditional place, and her pushing back as I struggled with insecurities that arose from her struggle to love. The more I said I appreciate her, I value her, the more spiteful she got, the more I tried harder and in desperation. This cycle was less about her and more about me.

It made me think back when I was younger and more darker. Someone used to try to ‘save’ me by saying I believe in you all the time, they said this to me. But they would say it with frustration because they couldn’t get me to believe in what they were saying. And I said one day, you keep saying you believe in me, but I don’t believe in myself, what I need right now is for you to just accept that this is where I am at this point in my life, and let me be, and watch me grow and unfold in my own time. And she couldn’t accept that and walked out of my life. In due time, years from now I would grow to be where I needed to be, but it was without her support which had been conditional. I had to have been there right then. She was incapable of supporting me as I was. And while I don’t judge her effort, I feel it works counter to how we really work.

And We Have to be Ok With That

Confucius once said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” everyone around us knows something that we ourselves do not know. This is the case with the world around us. Every person and every thing even the saddest of us has beauty in it.

It’s important to learn to be OK with the world as it is. To accept it as it is, while at the same time being catalyst for change by living the way. We have to be OK with people not loving us the way we want to or would like them to. Instead of focusing on them, focusing on ourselves and receiving our love from an indestructible place, where all love comes from and is connected. Envision it like a giant ball of energy that floats all around us, connecting all of us. Some allow it better than others, and this is OK.

Everything that is meant to happen will happen in its own time. Time itself is an illusion such that what has been and what is and what will be all exist simultaneously from A to Z. We just have to sit in the peace of simply allowing it.

In Tao this is called Effortless Action, where all is done and unfolds the way we unfold as we grow from birth to death always aging, effortlessly. Growth is a byproduct of emotional shifts, engagements and catalysts, and so it is in this way that just as the flower grows without much resistance, so too can we.

You Have To Have Passion To Survive Failures And Succeed In Life – Morning Reflections

People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing and it’s totally true. And the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t, any rational person would give up.

It’s really hard. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up. And that’s what happens to most people, actually. If you really look at the ones that ended up, you know, being “successful” in the eyes of society and the ones that didn’t, oftentimes, it’s the ones [who] were successful loved what they did so they could persevere, you know, when it got really tough. And the ones that didn’t love it quit because they’re sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if you don’t love it?

So it’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of worrying constantly and if you don’t love it, you’re going to fail. So you’ve got to love it and you’ve got to have passion and I think that’s the high-order bit.

The second thing is, you’ve got to be a really good talent scout because no matter how smart you are, you need a team of great people and you’ve got to figure out how to size people up fairly quickly, make decisions without knowing people too well and hire them and, you know, see how you do and refine your intuition and be able to help, you know, build an organization that can eventually just, you know, build itself because you need great people around you.

-Steve Jobs

 

It takes a lot of passion to live the lives we live. A lot of passion, a lot of dedication, and a lot of perseverance. You have to value and Love what you have whether it’s an object, person, skill, job, business, anything, you have to have something, some desire, want, need, passion, that keeps you moving forward, to really persevere through the tough times.

Many tears and many failures, long roads, emotional catalysts and emotional shifts. Shifts that change your entire being, shifts that shake your world so dramatically that there’s only two choices, to stagnate and die or persevere and grow. You have to love what you’re doing whatever that is to stick with it, day in and day out, year in and year out, to grow together, to grow apart, and back again in a cycle to keep moving forward. To be willing to sit through all the pain. To be appreciative for things that we value, that we have, even when it doesn’t manifest into our lives the exact way we wanted, it manifested the way we needed in this lifetime to learn.

We’re all shapeshifters, masters of illusions, creators of our own reality, weavers of stories. Weaving in and out, creating the world around us through our thoughts, dreams, actions, living, lifestyles. Life is like that, living vs. just giving out and dying, finding your passion, and pursuing it even when you lose hope. Even when you’re in the darkness and there is nothing there but this deep pit of endless emptiness.

You have to face the darkness, the fear, the failure, the sadness, redefine the very meaning of failure itself, and learn from it. Until the darkness and the threats and challenges in it are no longer objects to be feared but opportunities to revere, even when it’s hard and painful and challenging, it gets easier, better if we let it. Because fact is, this world is hard, relationships are hard, people are hard, families, work and success, it’s all hard. Keeping and maintaining the things we love and want, cherishing it when we’re these divine beings having this very earthly, humbling and human experience it’s…hard.

And it just keeps getting harder and harder, until one day if we’re truly dedicated to mastering the skills and the arts, until one day it gets easier and easier if we let it. You reach this point where life feels like this endless cycle. Life is an illusion. You say. Then you reach a point where you realize, you can’t fix it. The only thing you can really fix is yourself. And in fixing yourself you fix a piece of the entire world, because you are the world, you are a piece. So then the only thing you can do in this life is to live, to just live and be as you are, in your most authentic and rawest form. Growing every day to be the best you you choose to be in any given moment.

Playing any game that motivates you to succeed and move forward. For me it’s the spiritual game, it’s the going home game, it’s the serving with love and seeing beneath the veils- to make the journey more tolerable game. That’s the game I love to play. That’s the game that keeps me going until the day we can put it all back into the box.

But until it does all go back into the box, all we can do is Engage. Engaging with the world and each other. Refining Ourselves. Learning More, and watching that cycle through until it finally clicks and sticks.

Engaging, Refining and Learning, that’s all life is: Engage. Refine. Learn. Wash-Rinse-Repeat. That back and forth Mantra, until you get to the bottom, that place where one day you realize you’re done, and breathe that last breath.

Take a deep breath, breathe in life. Life is a two-sided coin, a double-edged sword, it’s that place where you learn good and bad, love and hate are two sides of the same coin, they’re cut from the same cloth. And you realize that life whether it has to be or not, is always going to be hard work in some way shape or form, nothing is handed on a silver platter, people are always going to be hard work, but without the passion, the dedication even when you feel it will never get better, the perseverance, the willingness to try, the hope and ability to keep walking. Until one day you’re standing on the edge of the mountain top, looking out at the world, this is your becoming. The day you become the mountain, the mountain becomes you, and nothing in the world is separate, and you can finally go home to the place you were all along, right here. Everything you love is right here. Lost in the eyes of human experience, waiting for you to open your heart and feel: I see you.

But we go through life blind, unknowing, separate, in the illusion. We don’t know what’s beyond the veil, we don’t feel for it. And in that blindness, we hurt, we engage, we get lost, we get found, we play, we have fun, we have sorrow, we have wars. It’s a very human experience, a very hard experience, a very engaging experience, a learning, a refining. It’s hard. And if you don’t love it, if you don’t find a reason for what you’re doing, then you’re going to fail, because no sane person suffers through all of life, if they never find a reason to persevere and keep moving forward, even when it looks like it’s all over. Even when you’re in a Nazi Concentration Camp being marched through the forest in the dead of winter. Even when you’re trapped in the pits of middle eastern hell being attacked day in and day out by men, praying for death. You have to be willing to believe that it can and will get better, even if it doesn’t. And if you don’t believe, then there has to be a drive. Just surviving isn’t always enough, just surviving, just ghosting isn’t always enough to truly live with our whole heart and being, to truly feel, to truly be at home. Why do we have to wait to die, we can have it now. I can have it now, if I allow it, if I let it all in.

I close my eyes, the tears fall down. I’m not sad, I am in awareness this morning. I know that if I did not have the passion, the dedication and perseverance to keep walking, that if I didn’t value and love the things that I do in my life even on days when there is no hope, just full of sorrow and despair; even on days when I am full of joy, if I weren’t a masochist in some way. Willing to stress myself and endure until I break, and rebuild and grow; then I would never have the opportunity to know a day without pain right here, right now. I would never be able to appreciate, how beautiful the view is at the top, right now while I am living, while I am alive in this moment, in this form.

That’s how I feel today. I feel like I know what I value in my life, I don’t always know why it’s here or what will become of it. But I know it is here. I know that I value the things in my life that I have. I know that it’s been really hard, and even the pursuit of my spiritual path is going to be really hard, it’s really hard. But I love what I do, it’s my passion, the things I value in my life are my passion. And so long as I have that, that value, that passion, that dedication, that perseverance, that growth and transformation, that heart and soul that keeps me going like a never-ending drive…so long as I have that I can never fail, and like it or not, even if it has nothing to do with us, this is true for anyone and anything. That’s just the way it is, the way it will always be.

So there it is. The story of the hour.

Introducing Afterlife

I’m pretty excited to be beta testing the first complete version of one my games. It’s going to be a card game, and there are only a few kinks to smooth out, before really play testing.

Title: Afterlife.
Themes/Goals: Self-discovery. Symbolic Death.
Inspired by: Senet.

What is it about:

It takes John Ortebergs quote, “When you die it all goes back into the box”. To play each player answer a set of questions at the start of the game to create a unique deck specific to them and their own personal life challenges. This deck is their interaction deck and it’s how they will interact with the world, these interactions involve an associated item belonging to the player that the player uses to resolve the challenge.

Trials also known as Challenges are organized by colour and Theme which match to the players deck which is assigned a matching colour, and ID. To play the game they must progress through each challenge at the end of which is a gate. Players can gain karma points and baggage from other players.

The goal and objective of the game is to progress through the 6  Gates of the Afterlife, a shadow representation of the Earth. The Goal is to pass a series of challenges to get through the gate, to reach the final gate where your heart is weighed by the baggage and interactions remain. You want to shed as many of these interactions as possible. Throughout the game players are asked to examine their relationship with the items used to represent them, their fears and what they mean to them and how they impact others around them including themselves.

By the end of the game players should be left with nothing and are asked to examine who they are without these things and what they have left. The beauty of this game is, people can take their newfound self-awareness and step back into their shoes upon learning what the Shadows of the world had to teach them, or they can pursue life in a different direction, it’s all up to them.

Not an everyday game:

The game is meant to be a fun way to discover who we are and to share that with others. However because the game is so personal and about self-discovery it’s meant to be done between people who are close to each other or are trying to develop intimacy and are at a level of trust. It requires a certain honesty with oneself and the security to be honest around others since it creates a dialogue between people.

As a developer my goal with this game is to offer people a tool that enables them to learn who they are beyond the roles in their day to day life. I’d love to be able to create a solo version of the game, for people who prefer to play alone though I can see a modified version coming out of it.

I also realized that this game could also be used as a writers tool, as you can learn more about who your character is, it’s fears and battles through this game. And I think that it could also help us figure out the many personalities we have, the death is really symbolic and it’s pretty broad.

Why a card game:

Originally Afterlife was designed to be a interactive fiction and it was based on the Medusa Lore (a novel I’ve been writing since 2006). The original game Afterlife had different factions and a series of interactive choices and dialogue, it spent years in development because I went back and forth on the programming. I never got past a basic menu, creating a series of rooms and an intro scene.

During my time in school we were required to create a short game each week taking what we’d learned in programming or game development that week. I would take the same game and rebuild it again and again, expanding on the story, focusing on game elements.

In one of my classes we had to make a card and board game and I was introduced table-top RPGs. I was entirely fascinated by the mechanics behind table-top RPGs and that there were so many out there beyond DnD. It was absolutely amazing that computer mechanics could be applied in a pen and paper setting. I’d spend the next several years focusing on that.

Flash forward today. Originally the project I wanted to get out by February was called Winter Solstice. A few setbacks occurred in my personal life that led me to putting Winter Solstice on hold. Due to depression that reoccurs while working on it, it will remain on hold for some time, as I feel the game has begun contributing to more depression than stopping it.

I decided that I need to create a game that allowed me to get away from my computer desk and engage with the outside world. And figured a board game would be it.

So I began looking through some of my old short games and found AfterLife. My intent was a board game with dice and some cards, but the expense of a board game and me not feeling confident with the art looking the way I wanted to, decided to stick with a simple card game with no fancy images, simple colour coded using text and a character sheet to keep track of scores and the unique deck associated with each player.

More recently Afterlife takes a concept from the game Sanctuary I made a while back and due to their overlapping similarities have been merged together. The two games have a different history and journey but their paths have all led to the same place.

Design & Play testing:

I am currently in design mode getting ready to shift into play test mode. I still have to put the finishing touches on the design which I now have a work concept for.  I have some basic mechanics which I’ve been testing and refining. I may have to change things with the game to make sure it works as it should, just a lot to work out to make sure it runs smooth, is fun and people get from it what I intended. There are also two different styles of playing the game that I have to explore and working out if I need more or less proposed cards.

So I am excited about that and where it’s headed.

Evolving:

This was written February 1st and slightly modified and posted in March. The game is evolving, and the influences on the game and the gameplay itself has evolved since February. It went through a major revamp around the end of February and we are just now leaving Design and nearing play testing. I am truly excited and will be creating some screenshots and pictures soon. Once I get a playable and tested (demonstratable) product the real fun: Marketing begins.

7 Tips in Learning to find Joy in the Joy of others, Mudita, pt. 2

 

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Rumi

It is with great joy I sit and write this as part of an ongoing Mudita series. Over the past week I sat with my mind meditating on more ways to combat envy and jealousy. Feelings that reflect our inner state of unhappiness with ourselves and project them on the external things around us, particularly people and things we feel and want. I made an ongoing effort to put it into practice, and I began to notice a change: I was happier. The people around me were happier, and I was better able to give positive and uplifting feedback towards the people around me, even rebuilding relationships I had long since thought lost.

Here is what I found to be helpful for me on my journey.

A Shift In Focus

Instead of focusing on something that makes you unhappy when you think about it (bad relationships, failed tests etc.) begin thinking about things that make you genuinely happy (for me, that’s love, martial arts, spirituality, game development and new projects).

When something occurs that you don’t want to happen and you catch yourself thinking, saying or behaving with, “No I don’t want that,” or “I don’t like it when you do that.” shift to the positive. Focus not on the negatives, the things you don’t want. But instead. “I like it when you do these things.” or “I’d like more positive healthy relationships.” Focus on the positive aspects of people, focus on the positive things that you want and then notice that if you focus on shifting away from negativity you begin to see more positive things including people around you, you begin to behave better towards them, and instead of feeling negativity and rejection from you they feel closer.

 

Accept and Take Responsibility

The moment you decide that you and you alone are responsible for your happiness and not external forces you relinquish their power and give yourself power. This is great with all sorts of emotions. “You didn’t make me do that, I chose to do that.” accept your sadness, and anger and jealousy, things that trigger

 

Spiritual Health and Development & Well being

Make this your primary focus. You want to make the conscious decision that your personal development, spiritual (or mental) health and well-being is more important than any other focus you have. This is not something that happens overnight and requires a commitment to changing your habits and behaviours and transmuting them into positive ones. You’ll want to create a schedule around it and then dedicate yourself daily to it.

To start. Create a list of goals, things you want to achieve in life, then take those goals and write a solution. What can you do to master these goals? This takes a little research and critical thinking, but is necessary.

Using those goals create a Spiritual Fitness Program with specific activities designed around this, this is your schedule for daily living. You want to stick to this schedule to make this a daily ingrained habit. It’s broken into 3 areas and worked in with your life, it’s unique to you. Meditation, Fitness, Diet and Daily Life.

In the following weeks I will work on creating an example of what one looks like and a step by step guide for how to create your own “Spiritual Fitness Program”. These are things I have applied into my own life inspired by boot camps and monasteries around the world. But you don’t need to wait for this program to be released, go out there and write goals and things you could do to achieve those goals, and then research and create some things that you can do with your health and focus in mind. If you need help with this contact us with your goals and we can work through solutions and create a program just for you.

 

Redirect. Redirect. And Redirect Again from bad habits

In the beginning your mind will constantly find itself feeling pangs of jealousy or envy or some other negative emotion. By now you should have figured out the root of the underlying feeling it brings to your attention to. Feelings of unworthiness or lack. Thank the negative emotion for bringing attention to your underlying feelings, and then redirect your thoughts to something that makes you happy or that is positive, or finding a reason this thing that happened in your life can be a good thing.

It’s a constant process in the beginning. Your negative thoughts will rise up again and again, but you will redirect. Redirect. And Redirect again, shifting focus from the negative and focusing your attention to the positive aspects.

 

Love, Awe & Appreciation

You want to aim to spend more appreciating things than putting them down. Appreciate people for their own unique strengths and differences, for how they’ve helped shine a light on areas you need to grow or in places where you are. People are like mirrors. Perhaps they helped you figure out what you really want. You can’t make those things fit into matching up with you, but you can appreciate those things. Maybe someone’s big house and big garden remind you that you want security and love, thank them for bringing your attention to the areas you lack. Appreciate them for what they’ve taught you, your bad patterns or habits. Your appreciation for them feels good for that person, strengthens them, but more than that, it’s a sign of wellness, of cultivating a healthy loving relationship with yourself, and appreciating yourself and where you are in the journey right now.

 

Help People To Feel Good & Redefine Your Life

There’s a saying when you want to feel better about yourself help others to feel good. Today is a brand new day. Redefine your life, who you are and who you want to be. Commit to building something great and helping others to build something great.

 

Fill Your Time With These 7 Activities

In combatting your negative feelings, spend less time around things that remind you how bad you feel, and more time doing things that remind you or help you to feel good.

Try filling your time with things that help others and help you. Here are just a few tips I’ve found to help.

  • Serve others
  • Lift people up
  • Prioritizing, Planning
  • Simplify (life)
  • Acceptance of success and failure, redefining failure
  • Perspective – change the way you look at things
  • Practice daily Gratitude

 

These 7 things alone when practiced daily are enough of a starting point to help change your day. Redirect your attention from activities that feel bad and refocus them on things that make you feel better but harm no one. Things that focus on your growth and development and make you into the person you want to be.