Reflections on a Quarter of 2021.

My dream retreat … a place lonely and quiet enough to hear my own thoughts.

I used to greet my reflection like it was a stranger.

I didn’t recognise the face that stared back at me as my own.

However, ever since I started the Before 30 (B30) Challenge, I’ve slowly become accustomed to my own visage. As strange as this sounds, but before I started the B30, I never liked looking at my own reflection.

I couldn’t come to grips with the idea, that, that was who I looked like. In my mind, I didn’t really have a strong idea of what I looked like, and that somehow the mirror was showing me a mirage. I could hear my own words, feel my own feelings … but you can’t see your own face unless it is reflected.

To verge on the philosophical … I didn’t trust the mirrors, the image I saw of myself. They were reflections, not true visualisation of who I am. A very strange insecurity to have.

I am a very … accommodating person when it comes to beauty. If I hang around you long enough, there is a chance I will eventually come to the breakthrough that there is something inherently attractive about you. It’s not difficult for me to identify why they could end up with a partner. Yet for all my generosity, I could never truly pinpoint what made me attractive.

Even when I struggled to find an answer, I kept reverting back to my force of personality. I assumed most of my charm laid in my sense of humour, my confidence and my inherent charisma. I never once considered that my facial features was capable of attracting anyone.

I’ll be honest … deep down, a part of me, despite getting more and more comfortable with my facial features, still think I blend in as a very average looking Asian male.

This is a reflection about change though. Much has changed since the lockdown ended in my beautiful hometown of Melbourne. I’ve become obsessed with tennis, a full time manager of a retail store, am currently undertaking a part-time course in event management to up-skill my considerable experience and am engaging in weekly badminton sessions with my friends.

Throw in a strange desire to be more extroverted than ever before, and I wonder what happened to the Damocles of 2 years prior, the man who would be too tired to go to anything after a casual, dull 5 hours of work and preferred to spend his time in a digital city known as Los Santos.

That Damocles before COVID-19 is now long gone. The hermit has finally shed his shell and is now more eager than ever to embrace life after having an entire year stolen from him, without his permission.

In a lot of ways, I hit the ground running the moment COVID-19 lockdowns were over. I was actually furious. An entire year stolen away from me, an imposition of further retail work, when 2020 was meant to be the year I quit the damn company and be my own boss.

I think a lot of the changes that have occurred, from my rather drastic weight loss, to my inherently poor decision to adopt one of the most frustrating sports in the world (tennis) … have all stemmed from a critically furious part of me inside, that is resentful, bitter and arrogantly spiteful that the world has somehow dared to interfere with my life plans.

So, in reality, this is me accelerating everything I have ever wanted to improve upon. I rarely feel tired nowadays, so invigorated by this angry side of me, that I am pushing myself for rapid growth.

I am greedy for life.

I want to lose more weight and achieve some type of peak fitness that enables me to chase down cars travelling at 40km/h or lift a girl up easily over my shoulders.

I want to play tennis competitively and win some type of trophy.

I want to resurrect my business, Tofu Events and become my own employer and man, responsible for my own livelihood.

I want my own apartment and so have been psychologically been planning out my days, so that I can realise what it is like to live on your own.

I want to attend more events and spend less time at home.

I want to be a better conversationalist.

I want to do a side flip, a front flip and eventually a parkour Kong Vault.

I even want to get better at singing and dancing.

The kicker is … I want ALL of these things to happen before I am 30.

That gives me 2 years to achieve everything.

Not impossible. Especially if I keep on working hard and making sure I am kept as busy as possible.

I realise now that the reason why I was more introverted, was because I wasn’t really taking control of my life. I treated friends sparsely, when really, to celebrate their company, I should be spending more time with them, making them laugh, think, and smile.

I’ve also realised just how much confidence I’ve gathered by being more fit. Perhaps too much, because I need to be careful that I don’t become some narcissistic asshole, which is all too easy for someone as arrogant and asshole-y like me.

I keep catching myself looking in the mirror more, when I really should stop. The obsession with looking good is such good bait. It keeps you going, pushing harder in your exercises, but I’ll also freely admit, that I need to be aware of how dangerous that is, especially if I keep going to the point of injury.

There is no point in injuring yourself, because you’ve just denied yourself another rep.

It is an incredibly weird sensation though … to look at yourself in the mirror and go … “Hey, that’s not bad.” As a guy who has never step foot in a gym before nor lifted a single weight, I was always averse to gym culture.

But I think I have a good understanding now and why it is addicting. It is visible improvement you can see, and something like that is its’ own motivation.

That being said though, I’m still not going to step foot in a gym. I prefer to run outside and get engaged in more sports. I will also admit, that I have an obssession with speed and have been really trying to improve how fast I can accelerate, thus my use of a plate carrier to load up more weight, thus when I take it off … I should really be flying.

Which has definitely been proven correct, because I think I am now faster than ever before. The world seems to stand still when I accelerate to my top speed.

Throughout my journey so far, I must be thankful to 2 fictional characters: Rocky Balboa and Steve Rogers. They are the two men that have steered and pushed me to even further efforts while retaining my own identity and forging my own path, regardless of the obstacles in the way.

Through Rocky, I learned to never give up and acknowledge that the grind is always worth something.

Through Steve, I learned to push my limits even further than I thought was possible, to try and get some kind of feeling in being superhuman.

I’m always reminded though, of how much of a good person I should be, whenever I channel Steve Rogers. I’m still shaking my head at the moral compass, the character of Captain America always seems to instill in me at random times.

Such as when I was running, completely out of breath, struggling to breathe under the weight of the plate carrier after a 200 metre sprint, and yet I still had to stoop down to pick up rubbish. It was just a random thing I felt like I had to do. I will also admit to being a bit protective of the gardens that I do laps around now, because it is such a lovely park, to see it polluted just seem wrong, especially when there are ample bins everywhere.

The power of superheroes … making you conscientious even when you shouldn’t be.

But it was Rocky that really began the journey to losing weight and getting fit. His music and story never fails to get me amped and I can directly correlate my ability to push harder to his character. I never thought I would relate to a guy like Rocky, but his story is universal.

I even attribute my dieting to him as well. I knew from the get-go, that losing weight wasn’t about working or running hard. It was about learning to control my eating habits that had balloon up at crazy times.

So …. that means no eating until 2pm every day, and making sure it is light, so that my body can learn to convert that into energy, instead of storing somewhere. The same goes for dinner at a relatively late time at 7.30pm.

2 meals a day, plenty of water and exercise. This is the way forward for me and … it’s not that easy, when I know there is so much good food out there. Culling my snacking was the worst transition.

Staying lean and mean ….

What has been the best thing about this whole journey so far, is that I can tell that I am making improvement in my own life. I can actually see changes happening and that if I keep working this hard, something will swing my way soon.

I’m going to sound cliched, but at the moment … life is looking good. But that doesn’t mean I can get complacent. After all, moods can swing rapidly and one lousy day can set back months of progress.

Life isn’t easy with discipline but it is a lot more rewarding.

With winter now encroaching upon Melbourne, I am definitely feeling the chills. But if Rocky can do it, that means I got no excuse to slack off, thanks to a little cold.

P.S. A small insight into this reflection piece … if the image above of the house by the lake sticks with you, then you are looking in my mind palace. This is what I always project when writing these pieces.

Imagine a guy in a totally dark room, with only the moon reflecting off the lake for light, and he is writing slowly but surely in a book. He is dressed casually, but with a white-grey wolf fur kaross adorned across his shoulders for warmth. Soft jazz is scratchily played from a record player and the sound of water lapping the ground underneath the veranda adds another melodic atmosphere to the room.

As dramatic as this is, that is what makes me write so well in any circumstances, imagining myself all alone in a glass house, focusing only on the scratching of my pen on paper.

~Damocles

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