Contacting Lord British

Richard Garriott (AKA Lord British) is a legendary videogame developer, responsible for the beloved Ultima series, amongst others.

Ultima IV holds a special place in my heart. The player aims to become a paragon of virtue, known as The Avatar. That’s where the subtitle for this blog comes from – Quest of the Avatar.

Ultima IV, Sega Master System version.

I really like the system of spiritual principles and virtues contained in Ultima IV. The 3 main principles are Truth, Love and Courage.

These 3 principles are not just a cool videogame idea, I think they’re actually a pretty solid foundation for a real-life religion! It’s been over 2 months since my Spiritual Awakening and I’ve been thinking lots about how to apply Truth, Love and Courage in my own life.

I was interested to find out Richard Garriott’s views on TLC and whether he’d considered using them in the real world.

I’ve contacted a few heroes before – book authors, videogame designers and favourite musicians. And I’ve heard back from my heroes more often than not.

I remember meeting George R R Martin (author of the Game of Thrones books) with a friend at a book signing. I was utterly star-struck and couldn’t think of any good questions to ask him, but luckily my friend did.

It’s such a cool feeling to form a personal connection with someone I respect and admire, whose work has made my life better in some small way.

So, I messaged Richard Garriott, thinking he’s probably far too famous and busy to respond to my silly questions…

Hi Richard! Thank you for bringing the Ultima series of games to the world. I have especially fond memories of IV and VII. I’m also interested in applying the principles and virtues of The Avatar to my own life. Truth, Courage and Love seem like great principles to live by. I was wondering if they are important to you in your own life? Have you ever considered starting your own religion, based on The Avatar?!

Bollinger, R. (2019), writing to Richard Garriott

He wrote back, within a few hours!

Thanks for the kind note!
I too have pondered these same questions.
I work hard and did lots of research to arrive at T/L/C, and do expect to write more on the subject directly… 
Where and how much, to be determined.

Garriott, R. (2019), legendary game developer.

He’s expecting to write more?! That means he’s already written something about the real-world applications of TLC! I guess I’ll have to check out his recent autobiography, though I’d be surprised to find more than a paragraph or two.

How exciting! It seems that TLC forms the basis of several existing world religions… And I suspect that if Lord British were to create his own real-world religion, he’d have almost as many followers as those who self-identify as a Jedi!

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It is Better to be Hated…

These two posts appeared next to each other on my Reddit feed this morning. I love this message.

It might seem trite to some, but I feel it’s the embodiment of Courage, one of the greatest spiritual principles. Fear blocks so many of us. Overcoming Fear is to be celebrated.

The second image really reminds me of a good friend of mine. I’ll message her and let her know.

from selflove

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No, I haven’t taken drugs. But I have been abusing sugar.

At 12 Steps meetings, you get different coloured keyrings depending on how long you’ve been “Clean and Serene”. At the moment I have only the first keyring, which is white and represents that I’ve been clean “Just For Today”.

I really like the keyring system because it serves as a visual reminder of how long you’ve been clean… and how much you’d be throwing away if you used again.

The next keyring for me would be (I think) the orange one, which represents being Clean and Serene for 30 days. I’ve just looked at my calendar to see when that would be for me. It’s tomorrow (12/09/2019).

At least, that would be 30 days from the last time I took my drug of choice, DXM.

But, as I explained here, I also have a secondary addiction – to sugar. I use sugar as a substitute for DXM. I tell myself it’s more socially acceptable. It also seems to most people like it’s less harmful than drugs, though knowing something about the science behind nutrition and the harmful effects of sugar, that may not actually be the case.

I’ll be honest with you, I feel utterly pathetic admitting I have a problem with sugar. As an ex-heroin addict used to say to me, “It’s not very rock’n’roll, is it?”

I’m probably more ashamed of my sugar addiction than I am of my DXM one.

What kind of idiot can’t control their sugar intake? Me.

So, what counts as a relapse? I’ve been asking myself that question quite a lot recently. I’m keen to get my orange 30-day keyring, so I wanted to say that only DXM usage counted as a relapse.

But, I think it’s absolutely vital for me to be honest with myself. Truth is a core Spiritual principle and a big part of 12 Steps.

I can tell when I’m abusing sugar as an addict, as a substitute for DXM.

And each time I do that, I really ought to be counting it as a relapse. The feelings I have inside with sugar binges – they’re exactly like other forms of addiction.

Various addictions may look very different on the surface, but at their core, I believe they all look very similar.

If I’m honest, I’ve relapsed two days in a row.

On Monday night I bought a tub of ice cream. I told myself I’d only eat half of it that night. You see, I’m trying to cut down. Not that long ago I’d regularly smash 2 or sometimes even 3 tubs of ice cream in one evening.

But I couldn’t stop myself. I ended up eating the entire tub even though I’d told myself I’d only have half. That’s the disease of addiction, the lack of self control.

And then last night, on the way home from a wonderful 12 Steps meeting, I bought a McDonald’s milkshake. It’s basically semi-melted ice cream which is absolutely rammed with sugar. I even caved and bought a large one because it was only 20p more. That’s the addict in me, no self-control.

On the mornings following each of these relapses, I felt awful. Partly it’s the physical after-effects of consuming gigantic quantities of sugar. Partly it’s the shame of knowing I’d let myself down. Again.

Where Now?

It’s a mistake for me to think it’s OK to abuse sugar as long as I’m staying away from DXM.

I can tell from the way I feel inside that both cravings are, at source, the same. It’s all the disease of addiction.

It feels like addiction is a nest of vipers inside my chest, squirming away. They can tell that as long as I keep doing the 12 Steps, their days are numbered. And they are absolutely desperate to find any way possible to keep me using… DXM, sugar… anything.

So, yesterday I relapsed…

… that makes today Day 1 again, the first day of me being “Clean and Serene”.

Sorry 30-day orange keyring, you’re gonna have to wait a bit longer for me to reach you.

Last night I had a series of painful, depressing dreams.

There’s a lot of shit from my past I need to face. My dreams were reminding me of that.

There’s a lot of pain from the past which I need to process. I need to heal from it, eventually.

Drugs (or sugar) aren’t the answer to the long-standing pain which I’ve been stuffing down inside myself. It’s Recovery through the 12 Steps that’s the answer I’ve been looking for.

As I mentioned in my post “Significant Dates”, maybe today (11/09/2019) is turning out to be pretty significant after all. At least, it is to me.

I’ll be praying to God / My Higher Power for strength and guidance.

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Serenity Prayer

As it’s Sunday, it feels appropriate to post a prayer. This is the Serenity Prayer and it’s commonly used at 12 Steps fellowship meetings.

It’s really powerful and, as its name suggests, helps me to feel a great sense of peace. It reminds me to let go of my desire to try to change things which are (almost entirely) outside of my control.

That doesn’t absolve me of all responsibility, however. I’m not a helpless victim. I must still have the Courage to change the things which are within my control.

Serenity Prayer

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Becoming a Man [or Woman] of Action

Are you living your life like an NPC (Non-Player Character)? Are you not really living your life’s purpose? Maybe you don’t even have any idea about what your life’s purpose might be?

Then watch this:

The above video from Universal Man (Mark Queppet) resonates strongly with the Truth.

“You have to be more bored than afraid [to be productive]”

Universal Man

I will be following this guy’s YouTube channel closely. If you’re on a similar journey to me, I recommend you do too.

Here are some of my current & former dopamine loops, plus what I’m doing about them:

  • Mindlessly browsing Facebook… -> I deleted my account months ago.
  • Mindlessly watching YouTube videos even if I’m not particularly interested in them… -> I’m now much more discerning, I try to watch only videos which feel meaningful.
  • Scrolling through Instagram looking at hot babes (testosterone AND dopamine loop)… -> Deleted my Instagram account months ago.
  • Wandering into the kitchen looking for food even if I wasn’t hungry… -> I now ask myself if I really want the food before I eat. Often I’m bored, not hungry.
  • Playing videogames (used to be my biggest hobby) -> I haven’t played games at all for about 3 weeks. I will still play them occasionally, but way less than before.
  • Visiting Reddit multiple times per day… -> I’m still trying to strike a balance here because lots of my Reddit use genuinely does feel meaningful.
  • Watching pr0n (wasn’t a big issue for me really) -> I almost never watch pr0n now.

What about you? What are your dopamine loops? How are you mindlessly distracting yourself and ruining your productivity? Let me know in the comments.

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The Holy Trinity

What if…

The true meaning of Christianity is encapsulated by the 3 principles of Truth, Love and Courage?

  • Truth = God, the Father
  • Love = His Son, who died on the cross for our sins
  • Courage = The Holy Spirit, which can dwell within us


For more of my thoughts about these ideas, check out my other blog posts:

Tidy Your Room

Ground Zero

Well, it would seem that today, 31st August 2019, marks the day where I’ve more or less returned to normal (for me!) after my Spiritual Awakening.

My feelings, thoughts and behaviour all seem to be back to the old me. And thankfully, I can sleep normally again.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost everything that was good about this experience.

As I look back over the last two and a half weeks of blog posts, I’ve managed to capture the vast majority of the insights and ideas which occurred to me during this period of mania/psychosis.

I still feel confident that 95%+ of it is valid and useful, not only to me but hopefully to other people too.

I’m extraordinarily proud of my Tidy Your Room graphic v2, which I see as the crowning glory of my Awakening.

Tidy Your Room

For me, it captures the essence of several very real and powerful systems for self-improvement:

It might seem grandiose or preposterous to claim I’ve figured out a system which captures all of the above. But, it is what it is. For now, I stand by that graphic 100% and I feel deeply attached to the methodology it represents. It’s certainly a system I intend to keep using in my own life from now on.

[EDIT: I remain humble and open-minded though. The current v2 of the graphic may not be complete or fully accurate. So there may well be a v3 which comes along in future.]

You could almost say I’ve started my own religion or a version of Spirituality. It works for me, maybe it will be helpful for other people too.

I certainly wasn’t the first person to come up with these ideas – they’re as old as mankind itself. But I’m not going to preach or evangelise. I feel everyone deserves the dignity of choosing what they want to believe for themselves.

So, Where Now?

Over these last 19 days, I started off feeling almost bulletproof. Gradually, that feeling has faded, along with all the other effects.

I feel a bit like a toddler who has had the stabilisers removed from his first bike. I’ve been given all the tools and techniques I need to cope with life on its own terms now, without chemical assistance.

Even as I write those last 3 words, I can feel the devil on my shoulder whispering in my ear…

That won’t be the last time you ever take drugs. There will be other times. Why would you want to miss out on something so awesome? You don’t need any external help. You can handle your addiction on your own.

The devil is a liar.

If I continue taking drugs, pretty soon I’ll end up in jail, a mental institution, or dead. Not to mention the fact there’s a serious risk my wife will leave me. She’s the best thing in my life. It’s simply not worth it.

I’ll keep going to 12 Steps meetings. I’ll keep focusing on what’s meaningful, not what’s expedient (or fun). I’ll face the dragon voluntarily. And I’ll pray I’ll be able to accept the things which I cannot change. In essence, I’ll attempt to live a virtuous life around the 3 core principles of Truth, Courage and Love.

It’s a hell of a lot better than being depressed, addicted and nihilistic.