Until January


It’s a beautiful spring day. The sun is warm and the sky a soft blue, corrugated by widely spaced clouds. As I do most mornings, I went for a walk to get some exercise.

In recent times, I’ve been going further and in unfamiliar directions. It has surprised me that it’s taken so long to properly explore the extended neighbourhood, but I guess there have been extenuating circumstances.

Today I walked as far as Royal Melbourne Golf Course. The borders of the course are relatively close by – perhaps a 15-minute walk. The streets around the course are full of lovely homes with little traffic passing through. There are trees everywhere and people walking dogs, and it seems a tranquil place to live – and a charming place to walk through.

Peering at the houses as I walked by, I was reminded of the neighbourhood where I grew up. Though quite different in ways, there was a similar feel to it. I felt a kind of regret that I had given that up – though lost, it seems more apt. And, as often, it spurred me on. Don’t give up on it, H!

I’m in an odd space right now, a sort of limbo. The cancer is gone, and generally, I’m much fitter than I was. There are still issues to deal with, and I’ve actually been in more pain lately than previously, but it feels like I’ve got a handle on it. I may even have a dog soon. I’m not in the next stage yet, but it’s probably only months away.

Work is a mess – a man-made mess – but I’m reluctant to go into the details just now. The upshot is that until the mess is resolved, I’m left with only half a job. That puts my position in peril, as I always suspected might happen. It would do me good to get out of the place, and if I am to progress, I must – but I’d prefer to do it on my terms. There’s a bit to play out yet.

I’m coming to the point where I have to make a call on which direction to take. Getting cancer gave me a mulligan, but that expires soon. Ironically, if not for cancer, I may not have faced the choice.

I have until about January, I figure. By then, I should be fit and well enough to fully commit to full-time work. My eye will be fixed, and perhaps other things also. It will be a new year and, with it, a new opportunity.

The question now, as always, is where does the opportunity lie? And what will please me? It’s something I have to start thinking about now, I figure, and begin preparations for. The next month will tell a tale.

What lies ahead


So much has changed in recent years, in the world and in my life. By necessity we’ve been made to adapt. I don’t remember more uncertain times than those we live in now, with Covid, climate change, and political turmoil becoming the standard we must bear up against. In so many ways, the outlook is bleak. The carefree days of my youth seem far away. But then my youth is past too, and besides all the global currents swirling about us, there is the personal. In my case, it’s cancer, though it goes beyond that.

Life is forever changed and I don’t know when or if it will settle into a new way or if it will remain forever changing. The best we can do is to shape our life to find pleasure and comfort where it still remains.

This morning I woke without having to rush out the door to the cold and dark. I had my coffee, then I read in bed. This is a small thing but gives me pleasure. It feels civilised and even normal. It’s good for me.

I feel myself very much in a state of transition because of my health. As I get better, the demands on me will become less and I will be able to do more. My outlook has shifted, though it remains unclear which way satisfaction lies. My claims are small for now.

I want to live like this, I know. I want to wake leisurely and approach the day slowly. I imagine a life where I read more, not just for pleasure, but for elucidation. There’s so much I don’t know and I want to expand into the space that reading opens to me. With reading comes thought. They are intertwined. I want to read and I want to think.

There are other things and they are similarly small, and familiar. It’s been years since I travelled properly. I must get back to it. It is another way of being opened up, and another way of thinking.

I’m sure writing will play a part. For the last couple of months I’ve been hard at it after doing nothing when I was ill. It serves an important purpose for me. It’s a way of exploring my mind and of bringing the things held inside me to the surface. It’s easy to argue that it’s another way of opening up. Though it’s hard work, and sometimes torturous, it gives me pleasure.

I don’t want to be alone doing this. I feel ready and able to open myself to that also, and there appear possibilities. What makes it difficult is that I’m not one to compromise. I don’t need companionship. I’m independent and self-sufficient without even trying – perhaps, too much so. It must be a meeting of minds and hearts, as well as bodies. It must be true and real. I want, as one long ago girlfriend described it, someone to steal horses with.

I can be assure of that when I get a dog again. I missing having a partner in crime.

Work, career, money – that’s more difficult. I may want something different, but I’m not in the position where I can change careers so easily. I have to figure this one out. So much of it is banal to me, but I need to make a living – and it’s more important now than ever before.

On the way back from the hospital yesterday I passed by a terrace house for sale in Greville street. I stoped to check it out. It appeared lovely – just my sort of home. I had a moment of sadness knowing I was on track for this until everything turned bad. Now it appears far out of reach – it is far out of reach.

I walked away refusing to accept that. I couldn’t stomach the melancholy reality of that defeat. I must find a way, I thought. And that’s true in many ways. I’ve been corralled by circumstance towards a certain path, but I refuse to take it. I must find a way of changing that, and I’m clever enough to do that.

There’s a lesson in that my illness has made me see more clearly. What makes me different? If you prefer, what are my strengths?

This was one of the party games we played the other night. Describe yourself in three words. Initially, we started with one. Mine was ‘formidable’. After some thought my three words were intelligent, independent and resilient.

Others may see it differently, and it’s hard to narrow it down to three words when each of us is an admixture of attributes all blended together.

These seem the essence of me, however. I might say I’m kind and generous or Im thoughtful and sensitive, that I’m strong or I’m proud, imaginative and creative, articulate and inquisitive, and so on. I think it boils down to this, though: I will keep going, and keep going my own way. And I’m smart.

These are the attributes I have to exploit. I can’t just accept them – I have to use them.

There’s not much I can do about the world about me except lend my weight and my voice when it’s called upon. To find a way forward for myself is a matter of finding pleasure where I can and designing a life around it. To make that possible, I must position myself as a thought leader. I’ve done things all my life, but now it’s time to guide others to do things.

All of this is conjecture still. There’s a lot to play out, and much dependent on my recovery. I’m approaching the last quarter of my life, however. If not now, then when?

Surviving the season


Yesterday, I had appointments back at the hospital to check my progress. I couldn’t get a lift, so I got the train in.

I left early, intending to visit the Exhibition building to get a Covid vaccine booster shot. I’m vulnerable to any infection, and the AZ shots I have appear quite ineffective against the new omicron variant. With cases exploding in NSW particularly (the mate I stayed with last week now has Covid), and across the country, I wanted to do all I could to safeguard my health.

It was a good plan, and I walked out of there with the Moderna vaccine as my booster, but it was a bit hairy in between.

It’s quite well organised, however, there are extended periods standing in queues. This can be problematic for me at times, and it was yesterday.

At no stage did I feel particularly strong, and travelling in by public transport had probably put an additional strain on me. I managed to weather it initially, but after about 20 minutes felt increasingly unwell, which included the splotches that appear in your eyesight. I hoped to make it to where others were seated waiting to be called up for their vaccine – perhaps 6-7 minutes away. If I had a seat, I could recoup my energy.

I didn’t make it, though. Feeling as if I might faint at any moment, I dropped to my haunches. The man before me in the queue and asked if I was alright. I swear, for most of my life and 99 out of a hundred times, I’d have answered that I was okay. But, this time, I answered honestly, “no” I said I wasn’t alright.

He went to speak to an attendant. Another woman in the queue came to check on me. I was very grateful for their attention and just a mite embarrassed by it. I admitted to the woman I had cancer as if a tall, fit-looking guy like me might be faking in. A wheelchair was brought to me, and I was wheeled into a medical room accompanied by a doctor, where a nurse looked after me.

They took my blood pressure and checked my heart rate – activities I’ve experienced hundreds of times in the last few months. I had a glass of water. Lying down, I began to recover.

After about 10 minutes, they gave me the vaccine (no side effects except a moderately sore arm). After another 10 minutes, they let me go.

I was much better and made my way the short distance to the hospital. There I was told that if the swelling and redness didn’t improve within a couple of days, I’d have to call up to be re-admitted to hospital for another course of IV antibiotics. I don’t want that, and it’s probably not feasible given there’s no-one to look after Rigby.

Because I was in town, I’d agreed to visit the office. It was the first time I’d been there since about June. I met with my team leader, and we went to lunch. He wanted to know when I might be able to return to work. I told him it was a week to week proposition and that things could change quickly – but, I said, maybe February, on a part-time basis.

I also told him I might need a holiday first to clear my head of everything. I need to make sense of things. I can’t understand. It’s been a terrible year. I don’t know what’s to come of me, but what justice is there should I be cured when my dearest companion is (likely) condemned?

I came home and slept for about 90 minutes. I felt washed out, but I had a dinner to go to.

As in previous years, I met with friends at a restaurant in Hampton to celebrate the season. It felt very different for me.

I didn’t feel great, and it’s hard to be as light-hearted as in previous years with everything that has happened. I’ve realised these aren’t enjoyable occasions for me. I can’t hear very well, and what I hear sounds muddy. I expect most of the hearing loss will be permanent and that I’ll have to get a hearing aid down the track. The effect right now is that I feel out of it and in a separate bubble from everyone else.

I was tired, and the act of speaking – with my face swollen and mouth half blocked – was wearying.

I made the most of it, but I don’t think any of us were in a particularly festive mood. It was an early night. I was home by 9.30 and straight to bed, sleeping just over 12 hours straight.

More fun


I had a dream last night that I was young, and I had a gang of friends who were cool but who were also all into science. I was smart and resourceful, funny and determined. There was a girl I liked I wanted to get the attention of, so I contrived situations where we would encounter each other that would show me to advantage. She was elusive, though, the type that appreciates her own worth and wants you to work to get her. I was up for the challenge, and the dream was all about that, like a fun TV show from the seventies or eighties, with a bit of a Ferris Bueller vibe.

The whole vibe was fun and over the top – episodic adventures and a laugh track. The character I was, you just knew I’d eventually win out. The rest of it was about books and music – I was into that, and so was my desire. And my hip friends had that geeky touch that made them interesting. In one scene, they’re watching an old Barbra Streisand movie set in an earlier era. Throughout, they’re busily searching a college equivalent of Google looking up historical and cultural references – which is the sort of thing I do.

Afterwards, I realised that’s the very thing I miss most: fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt it. And, it seemed, in its absence, I had sold myself short. The Bueller character was in me, and maybe it’d been me in an earlier incarnation, but in recent times I’ve been bogged down in the here and now.

It’s not as if times are particularly fun these days. Covid, and repeated lockdowns, tends to take the edge off anything whimsical. The inability to travel doesn’t help, on top of which we live in an era of dreadful governments and politics, and I find it hard not to be wound up by injustice and corruption. Then there’s work.

The answer, it seems, is to let go of some of those things. I’ll always be politically and culturally engaged, but I can take it less personally. I can’t do much about Covid, but it will end. Then there’s work, and that’s something I can act on.

Work has been a problem for a while, and in the last few days – since my scare – it’s just seemed wrong, though I couldn’t explain why. Then it became clear: there’s no fun in it. And how can there be when you feel undervalued and exploited? Even the work I do, which I do competently, isn’t the sort of work I like best. I like to create and build, but all I’m doing is managing. I take an intellectual approach to problem-solving, which is out of step with the prevailing orthodoxy – just do it. The result is half-arsed results that drive me crazy.

After wondering all this time, I decided that all I need to do is find something that fits my definition of fun – challenging, creative, expansive, engaging. It’s not as easy as all that, but at least I have a sense of what’s gone wrong. That’s something to aim for because I’m not going to get it in my current workplace.

It might sound a funny thing, but I think I need to believe in myself as that person. Be bold again, be adventurous, don’t set limits and, as I always did before, bite off more than I can chew. I lost a lot of that going through the dire years of struggle, and ever since (though many still think me just as strident and confident as ever). I’ve become a lot more serious and solemn when I want to be light-hearted and charming again.

Get healthy. Get fit and beautiful. Don’t get bogged down in the negatives, go out and find some positives. Have fun. That’s the goal from here on in.

Give me a reason


Because it was a public holiday yesterday, I ended up having a cooked brunch at one of the cafes up the road.

It was hectic and crowded there, and I was lucky to get a table. I watched the comings and goings while I waited for my omelette to arrive, the people coming in searching for a table, the people paying their bill as they left, and the waiters and waitresses weaving their way between them, taking orders and bringing meals and showing people to their table.

I’ve been in similar circumstances hundreds of times. I don’t know how many cooked breakfasts I’ve had in my life, but it’d be in the thousands of dollars worth. It’s always felt a treat, if not a downright and well-earned indulgence. Life was good if I could do such a thing.

I enjoyed it yesterday, but something else crept into my mind as I observed. By chance I looked up and saw my boss from work leave with another man, looking relaxed but professional as if they’d just conducted a meeting. We didn’t speak, and he didn’t see me, but perhaps it was the unexpected sighting of him that shifted my mind into another perspective.

There’s a guy at the cafe I always share a few words with. He’s the sort you often see around beach locales – tanned and relaxed, easy to smile and ready for a laugh. They take life at a different pace; it always seems to me, intent on living it on their terms. Often that’s related to a love of the ocean and the life that goes with it. Often they seem to be surfers – but maybe I’m inventing or imagining the whole trope. In any case, they’re people at peace with the world, and they exude chilled contentment.

I thought a little of the time, years back when I had some money to invest. At the time, I thought a bar or massage shop? I knew bars, so that was the preferred option, but I ended up with a massage shop – which I didn’t know – and that didn’t work out so well. What if, I mused, I had partnered up in a cafe like this instead?

What attracted me was the carefree nature of it. I know it’s far from carefree, especially having survived Covid, but it seemed a simpler equation at that moment. I could feel it, a basic yearning just to turn up in my shorts and a t-shirt and start serving people I could have a laugh and a conversation with. Just a job – a pleasing way to spend some time between doing what I really want to do. Whatever that is.

I know it’s an illusion, and that if I found myself in such a situation, I’d just as likely be yearning for something else. And that it’s just as likely that someone working in a cafe might covet my job. That’s the nature of human beings. However, I can only speak for my own mentality and something of this appeals – at my most jaded I actually dreamt of taking myself off to become a barista.

Instead, I do what I do. It may pay-off for me, but I doubt I’ll ever truly feel satisfied again. The day after learning of what appears a decent promotion, I felt deflated. The brief sugar hit at the news, and all it meant, gave way to another feeling altogether. Unfortunately, it seemed crushingly banal to me. What was the point of it? Money, yes, and I need it, more than I can say – but nothing to nourish me, nothing for the soul, no other value but dollars and cents.

I feel like I’m chained to the machine, but it probably happens to most of us some time. And perhaps that’s just the reality I never saw before because I was caught up in doing and achieving and the sheer competitive sense of it. They were drugs in my system I’ve been weaned off in the years since. Without them…

I’ve written variations on this dozen’s of times, but that’s why I keep posting it – because it remains true. It’s all about being free, I think – free to be yourself, free to follow that thing inside you, free to be big or small or however you want. I know I still have a hunger inside, but I’m coming to believe that this is a thing that life makes compromises of. I understand I do, especially given all I’ve gone through – but I keep coming back to it because I can’t quite come to terms with it. I can’t accept it, not yet.

I’ve been through hard times and lost a lot, but I’m also fortunate in general and more so than many people even now. This is what checks me. I don’t want to be ungrateful or greedy. I don’t want to be accused of hubris. And I sure as fuck don’t want to be whiny. We all have a duty to ourself though, and, for me, it means I want to understand – in the deep of me. That’s why I keep coming back to it. I can’t accept it until I make sense of it. That’s me – I need a reason.

Half of this is probably mid-life crisis sort of stuff. From what I can tell, it goes away eventually or at least eases. I suspect a good part of that is acceptance. I reckon, not that I know, that we accept that what we hoped for professionally and strove towards previously no longer applies, and doesn’t matter. It’s not that we find the satisfaction we lacked, but that it becomes irrelevant.

I hope that’s the case, but it’s a hard one to get my head around. I am, by nature, a committed character – even now. In my case, I think it’s only half the story – the rest being the bitter residue of grief and hard times. And personality – I’ve always been restless, always been daring, and always keen to try different and more. I’m by no means an addictive personality, but I understand how one can crave new highs as the old ones pale. For me, that was travel and living well, women and sex, and work as well. There’s little of that now.

Now I fight the urge to be irresponsible – to do something just to be doing something. The impulse to risk remains strong because I want to know what can be and how far I can go. And, because everything now seems small and unimportant. There’s no heft or scale, no blood in what I do. There’s always been a danger in this urge, and I have the scars to prove it – but I’ve had fun too, and tested myself, and made it interesting.

Not sure if it’s in me to fade away or to accept a smaller take on things – not in my current configuration. But then, if I’m sensible, there’s no real alternative. Yes, give me a reason – but give me passion to, cos I’ve lived without it for too long.

What I’d like


As I took Rigby on his afternoon walk yesterday, I gave thought to my immediate future. In a little over a week, I’m back in the job, and I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. The break from the daily routine seems only to have reinforced some of my misgivings. I still see things pop-up in my thread regularly, some of which I respond to with a directed action or comment. All of it feels tedious and familiar. I’m jaded and weary by the same things again and again and have little appetite for a return to it.

Still, I must, though the other job remains a possibility, as do others. I’m not locked in, and that’s important to remember.

The reality is that I must return somewhere, but if there’s a silver lining, it is that at some point soon my pay should be increased – either the long-promised and overdue pay rise at my current workplace or starting somewhere else. There was some reassurance thinking that, and as I walked along, I calculated what would be an acceptable minimum increase.

I did my sums, factoring in a desire to move from my current home at some point into something bigger and better, the prospect of a proper holiday somewhere, and a need to begin salting some dollars away for the rainy days a’comin’.

I figured that I needed a minimum of an extra $14K on my existing salary. That’s probably a few K more than my alleged pay rise, but the other job is offering approximately $25K extra. An extra $14K would allow me to budget for an extra $100 a week rent, and for the bigger, better home that would allow, and the consequent uplift in quality of life. It leaves enough over to grow in my bank account, especially when you consider my various, sundry debts should be paid off by late next year – that’s about an extra $250 month freed up.

It’s a pittance really, but enough. When I think of the years ahead when I’ll be living in retirement, I’m still well short of what I need, but that’s an incentive to be creative. The important thing is, get it right now, and build upon it. I have to make a start.

That’s the practical side of things mapped out, more or less, and so my mind turned to the less tangible.

Probably for the last week I’ve imagined finding someone I could talk to about such disparate topics as Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the works of Erich Maria Remarque, and the peccadillos of Australian test selection, just as an example. And throw in discussions around food and wine and politics and the state of the world, and pretty well most of the stuff I take time out to write about here.

Sure, I’ve got people I can discuss Test selection with – I did that the other day – or the footy. I’ll have occasional conversations around what’s happening in the world and the state of politics, but generally, they’re fleeting. I don’t think I ever talk about books, and though music is an occasional point of discussion (though not nearly as much as when I was 30 years younger), there’s only one person I know of who would even know who Richter is.

Certainly, there’s no single person I know who can embrace such a diverse range of subjects and converse knowledgeably on them. I was about to say how much I miss it – but I’ve never really had it. The best I’ve ever had it is experiencing quadrants of these conversations with different people. It would be lovely to discover it in someone this year. It would make my heart full.

There are other things I wish and hope for, and things I need to sort out. I don’t have resolutions, but I’m happy to call some of these – the financial – as goals.

Next week will come, and more things after it. I don’t know all that’ll come my way, but there will be possibilities to explore and experience. Now’s not the time to be passive.

Counting the days


A month from today is Christmas. This year, I commence Christmas leave on the 21st and return to work on January 11. I don’t know yet what I’m doing Christmas day, but that’s not unusual.

I have tentative plans to head down the coast to Wye River for a few days after Christmas. I’ll be pitching camp with the Cheeses and associates, and even bought a tent for the occasion. Rigby will be minded by X for that period, and I expect I’ll mellow out completely while I spend my time drinking and eating and laughing and reading and body-surfing and going to the pub, all in the bright coastal sunshine.

I need the break, but it’s close enough now that I can count it down.

I’ve been so busy, but the good news is that two of my projects should be launched within a week, which takes the pressure off. The other one – the big one – I’ve had to pause as UAT failed.

That’s a major annoyance, but not surprising. I feel pretty relaxed about it really because I know I’ve done the right thing in not trying to push it through. I’ve asked the vendor to come up with some satisfactory answers and an assurance I can trust that every contingency is managed. The formal pause allows me to draw some breath as well, and take a break from the headlong rush.

I’m still hoping to get it deployed before Christmas.

And that’s my working life – flat-out, but currently under control. The sun is shining, the bars and restaurants are opening up, and Christmas beckons.

Do it all next year, but worry about it then.

Remain vital


I wonder if I’ve reached the age now where thoughts of the last third of my life become more prevalent? It makes sense that they should as I advance into that stage – but there feels something unsatisfying in it.

Its been a gradual realisation, almost unconscious. There I was yesterday, imagining my life in comfortable retirement, without giving it a second thought. And yesterday morning, on my weekly walk with Cheeseboy, we touched upon the life to come – where we’d live, how we’d live, and the simple pleasures we look forward to as part of that.

It’s not the first time we’ve done that, though both of us are probably a dozen years from retirement. At one point yesterday, we imagined the same scene – a house overlooking the ocean, a sunny day, and the simple pleasure of having a cool drink sitting on a deck overlooking it all.

It seems for quite a while now that I’ve had a settled view of the life to come. If not the house overlooking the sea – I doubt I can afford that – then a comfortable cottage in the bush somewhere. Room to move and an open sky. There would be the sprawling veggie garden I referred to yesterday, which I’d tend to every morning.

I remember as a boy I grew vegetables in our suburban back yard, and the sheer delight of discovering the budding fruit of the young tomato appearing overnight; or the unexpected find of zucchini or a pumpkin hidden in the foliage. The bonus now is that I could turn these things into food for my table.

And that’s the life, as I touched upon yesterday — a life of growing veggies and indulgently cooking. Afternoons reading by the fire or an open window and perhaps engaging in conversation over a glass of wine or a gin and tonic. In between, as I went about my daily business, my music would play, and all of this the pillars of my simple life – good food, nourishing literature, and the music of my life. And writing, which I would set to every day at the appointed time.

By itself, it sounds fine, but to what end? I would need other things — friends of course, and hopefully, someone to love and be loved by, but even so. I would need to travel still, to enlarge my mind and experience – that mustn’t stop. And human interactions.

This, more or less, is how I’ve unconsciously imagined it for years. It seems a good life in many ways. Why complain? Because it seems to me that to live well is not enough, one must live deeply. And to experience that truly, there must be some risk, some danger, some leap of faith and courage involved. To immerse yourself in the merely pleasurable comes at the cost of vitality.

For some time now, my relationship to books and reading has changed from what it was. It is less satisfying, though I read just as much as I ever did and take as much pleasure from it. As I think about, it feels as if books have become entertainment to me, though I’m still provoked and stirred by them.

The difference is that in all the many years I browsed bookstores and collected books up till recently literature was a part of who I was. I read as if I would learn something as if in the pages of the classics I pored over there was enlightenment to be found and meaning for the path I was on. I read as if there were secrets I could unlock that would make sense of what I did and felt, what I yearned and strived for. Literature pumped through me like life’s blood.

What’s different now? I’m older now. Perhaps I’m more cynical; certainly, I’m more bruised. The life I imagined as I read those books has now passed me: I have been and gone, and here I am.

I thought of this again this morning as I added about 20 books to a wishlist, mostly NYRB publications. There was excitement thinking I will likely read them one day. And fascination wondering what I would find. That hasn’t changed. And probably over the next 18 months, I’ll buy each and every one of those books, and others, and more to come, many more, in the years ahead.

But to what point? That’s the critical question. I feel such a dilettante reading for its own sake, as has been true for the last 10 years. There must be more to it. And the difference, ultimately, is that once I could see myself in those books as I if I too could live that life and take on those adventures. I imagined myself loving as the characters did, being swept up in romance and volatile times. That’s how I would live. That’s what I would do.

And I did, for a long time. Books taught me experience, and I went out and found it for myself. I travelled, I loved, I caroused and journeyed, I looked deeply into things and found myself provoked and stimulated. I learned. It was good, and I’m grateful for it, but it’s like all memory, once it’s done you can’t go back. They’re photos in an album.

I went deliberately searching for vivid experience and being unsafe for so long has probably cost me the comforts of a settled domestic life. There are times I miss that, and I regret there are things I missed out on.

Now that I’m coming into the last third, what remains true? Is it that settled and domestic existence I can come at belatedly? Or is some return to the vitality of creating new experiences, over and again?

What we’re talking about here is possibility – the possibility of new and challenging things in your life. It’s been in short supply the last few years as I’ve scrambled to get out of the hole I was in. I want to think that I will feel it again – the sense that anything can change, that there surprises still in store, and mountains to climb.

I’ve come to the stage of my life where I realise that it’s the poignant and the sublime that fill me up. That’s what I searched for in books once upon a time, and then in life. The times I have experienced it have felt almost holy to me as if I was on the cusp of an understanding that always eluded me. It was enough to know it was there, and to feel that – and to quest to find it again.

I don’t want to fade away. To live well is fine, but I need the vitality of life to make it meaningful for me. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that – and I think that accounts for my general state of mind in recent years. I really don’t know if I was ever made to play it safe. Tempting as it is, I want to feel alive – no matter how old I get.

At the extremes


It’s been a rush the last five days, or so. Busy and productive myself, and things happening around me.

On the weekend I sent off book one to an agent for appraisal, etc, and will likely contact another this weekend for the same purpose.

Also on the weekend, I posed a question on Facebook, seeking feedback about an old idea of mine that had returned to the fore. There’s too much to go into here, but basically, it’s an idea that sprung out my experiences when homeless and being hounded by the ATO and various creditors. I needed help of different types, accounting and legal mainly, but didn’t have the resources to engage anyone and there seemed few other options. In the end, I got help from a local community centre but highlighted to me what a huge gap there is for help for the people who need it most. My idea was to create a platform to crowd-source help, drawing upon the collective wisdom and charity of the community.

At one stage I had a partner to develop an App, but he later pulled out for business reasons (he was a software developer). I’ve had an interest in the idea, but it seemed too hard to do. But then, watching the community response to the bushfire crisis, I was inspired to believe there’s a real appetite for support out there. And, by now, I had thought of another way of doing it – a much simpler way.

So I put it out there – wouldn’t it be good? And, what do you think? There was a pretty positive response, so I guess I’m moving onto stage two.

I also went to a bushfire charity event at Bad Shepherd on Saturday night, before ending up drinking cocktails at the Hawker bar.

Then, at work, it’s been full-on again, or still, but generally good. Very productive these days, and encouraged to use my creative side, which is excellent.

On Sunday there was a brief but very fierce supercell storm that hit Melbourne. I listened to the hail on the roof and it sounded like the roof was being hammered.

On Monday another storm developed late in the day and torrential rain fell. My train was stopped at Elsternwick on the way home and we had to wait for busses in the rain to take us the rest of the way. That stopped about a kilometre from where I lived. I walked in the rain with a raincoat on and my umbrella held in front of me like a shield. The rain was heavy and the wind made it near horizontal, which meant I could only protect a part of my body. From the waist down, I was sopping wet.

This is how it is now, everything is at the extremes.

The good fake


My summer break is just about over. On Monday I’m back at work. I’m not looking forward to it, but the break was better than it might have been.

I hoped to go away. Planned to go away. But then unforeseen circumstances prevented it and that was a blow. For the first week of my holidays, I struggled a little. Christmas is a conflicted period for me, on top of which I’ve been wrestling with a few existential challenges.

But in other ways, the break was productive and better than being in the office. Because I didn’t go away, it meant I could do some writing instead and raced through the final edit of my manuscript. Give me another week off I’d have it finished and ready to send it off to the publisher. As it is, I reckon I’ll have it finished by the end of the month.

I was intent on getting some proper rest, body and mind. The first week that seemed a bust. I’m still not sleeping as well as I can, but I’ve had some lazy days and feeling a bit more energetic than I have been. I still figure I’ll need another break sooner than later, and ideally a proper holiday (March?), but I can get by for a while.

Around the house, I did some spring cleaning, digitised a lot of old photos, and pruned my wardrobe. I kept a pretty low profile generally.

I found no real answer to the questions I posed after Christmas, and I suspect there is no real answer. As before, I just have to make the best of it. I guess that’s disappointing in a way. It’d be nice if there was a solution to every problem. An answer to every question. Doesn’t matter how earnest or enquiring you are, life doesn’t always work that way.

What that means is that I go to work and adopt a persona, as I have for so long. Most people probably do in some way, though mine is in place to shield my frailties. The persona isn’t fake, it just isn’t all true. You take some elements of yourself, and you project them while hiding away the parts of yourself more vulnerable. It makes for a warped presentation of yourself, but most people can’t tell the difference.

I’ve wanted to be more authentic than that but found it’s hard to live with the weight of sorrow that entails in my circumstances. I accept that now. I accept all that weighs on me and troubles me, and I’m no longer willing to let them affect me as they have. I don’t want to be a victim. Nor do I want to bite my tongue. In that way, at least, I want to be real.

With that decided I intend on returning to work with my most bold self to the fore. If I have to ‘fake’ it, then let’s go for broke.