Plans and the Unplanned.

There comes a time when you look at yourself and think … why do I even bother making plans.

But without planning ahead, you’re just living life without purpose. And if you don’t have a purpose, then why live?

2022 was a year of startling purpose. It was a year of spite, perseverance, and ultimately a whole lot of luck was deployed and taken away at the same time.

There are many important lessons I learned throughout the year. The meaning of equilibrium. The approach I need for relationships. The depth of desperation. The cruelty behind good intentions. The cost of luck.

But the most critical teaching of them all, was the radical nature of change.

Beyond a shadow of doubt, 2022 was a formative year for me.

So allow me to break down why 2022 was such a dramatic year by the lessons I’ve listed.

The meaning of equilibrium.

I was born lucky. That’s an objective truth. From the moment I took breath and was delivered into a healthy, middle-class nuclear family, there was no mistaking I was lucky. My parents are attractive people, which in turn meant I have turned out decent. They don’t fight often, and are surprisingly affectionate and loving towards each other and me. They support me in everything I do and have instilled in me a sense of duty, sensibility and relatively quick intelligence.

Throw in the fact that I seem pretty lucky at cards, am graced with incredible friends, live in Australia, am surrounded by a city with the most sophistication in the nation and a whole lot of other countless elements, it is unequivocal that I am lucky.

My entire life, I’ve coasted along with this luck. Even in the pandemic years of 2020 to 2021, I was still lucky. I was promoted to retail sales manager just before COVID struck, which meant I could keep my job and still head out to work, whilst so many others were confined to their home. There were ample parks near me I could use to exercise … my mother is an excellent cook … the point is, despite the entire world current suffering, luck was still on my side.

So, you can imagine my rude surprise when I finally learned what it felt like to be marked by luck. To actually understand that there is a cost to everything and I had to pay for it, like everyone else.

I named this phenomena … equilibrium because 2022 truly proved Newtonian laws to me.

It became such a common theme, that it almost transformed into a disease in my mind. Whenever I was experiencing some good luck, I immediately braced myself for the inevitable bad luck that would sour whatever fortune I had.

Equilibrium for me ranged from the minor to the major. On my final day in the retail industry, a customer came back after I closed up shop and annoyed me for an exchange. There were payslip issues on my final week. During the course of a game, I would get my player out onto the board, only to be instantly removed.

But nothing compared to the biggest emotional whiplash of them all, when I had 4 of the greatest days of my life, at the Formula 1 2022 Grand Prix, only to be raided by the police the literal day after, turning my excited buzz into one of instant mortification.

Over the course of several years, as a military enthusiast, I had started a large collection of gel blasters. From my pride and joy, an all-metal HK 416 assault rifle, to a lovely Lee-Enfield No. 4, these guns were a passion project that was technically illegal in my state of Victoria, but perfectly fine in Queensland.

I knew the risks of collecting these, and in all honesty, felt no ill-will towards the officers who came in to claim them. After all, I had been mentally bracing myself for this moment, ever since I bought my first one.

But it didn’t lessen the sting of losing them all.

That was the true moment, the lesson of equilibrium struck me with all its force. Everything good came at a price. I was no longer exempt from this rule. The cliche: freedom isn’t free has never quite rung more true to me, than it does now.

The seriousness of my crime, of owning 18 “imitation firearms” was not lost on me. I was to be called in to court, face the Magistrate and explain myself. The possible sentence ranged from a diversion all the way to proper jail time.

When the officers left my home, guns in tow, I knew I was finally marked by bad luck and that 2022 was going to be the year, where I had to re-evaluate my relationship with Lady Luck herself.

Which brings me to my next lesson that I learned.

The cost of luck.

Lady Luck’s problem with me, was that I had taken her for granted. 27 years of life on this planet, and now, she decided she has had enough with my lack of gratitude.

So, she marked me and forced me to re-evaluate my relationship with her. Lesson after lesson of equilibrium came barrelling in and my thick head did not understand the intent behind them.

I was bitter, confused and puzzled. I had such a privileged quarter life, that it didn’t even occur to me that some gratitude was in order, that Lady Luck truly was blessing me with her presence for such an extended period of time, when she ignored so many others.

It wasn’t until the final months of 2022, I finally understood her. The goddess I had chosen to worship wasn’t some genie I could command at whim. She was fleeting, like a soft wind. When she was there, you appreciated her and took advantage of everything the lucky wind had to offer.

The soft chill, the gentle rustle, the quiet whisper.

But she was temporary.

Lady Luck is not some permanent fixture in your life. She had other places to be, other people to visit, more crucial things to do. But when you felt her close, it was time to bet big.

In my case, it was $2750 large. That was the cost of my lawyer fees and the fine I had to pay to earn my freedom back and essentially walk away scot-free from my crime. I was granted my diversion, due to the fact that I was cooperative with the police during the raid and my character references vouched for me.

Freedom isn’t free.

What I’ve noticed though, is that right after this massive stroke of luck, my relationship with Lady Luck has now been repaired. I am now just sincerely grateful for when she comes by my side, and no longer demanding.

This improvement in attitude is what has redefined every single friendship I’ve made.

The approach I need for relationships.

Extroversion comes at a price. You only have a finite amount of energy in a day.

Best to chose wisely who you want to spend that energy with.

2022 wasn’t just the year where I started to hang out with my friends more, it was also the year where I prioritised who I wanted to hang out with more. I started to develop a better social calendar, plan catch-ups, and view friendships in different ways.

I became more selective of the vibe I wanted from people. Those who had my back, those who didn’t.

I’ve always been pretty picky about who I let into my inner circle of trust. But, because I started to go out with people more, I decided to widened it.

It was a bold risk, that paid off for some, and cost me dearly in others. In the grand scheme of things though, I would say that the circle growing ever so slightly has been a good thing. It’s nice to know that I can talk to more of my friends, to bring some much needed estrogen energy to balance out all the testosterone that I surround myself with.

In fact, it has been all the women in my life that have helped me the most in difficult times. Without their strong support, I’m not sure where I would be right now.

Their sensible advice on how to navigate matters of the heart have been invaluable and touching.

It’s also allowed me to understand them more and appreciate how unique they all are to each other. Some give me advice that is personal to them and others, opt for more conventional rules.

This identification of unique qualities in them, has also lead to be redefine some of my male friends. I can now positively identify what benefit each friend brings to me and how they can enrich me with their presence.

So many friendships over the years have been lost, simply because I wasn’t paying them due diligence and actually positively identifying why I was friends with them to start with.

To relate back to the theme of purpose, this was the year where I really examined everyone I knew and their purpose in my life. What I was willing to let slide, what I was willing to confront them over, and most importantly, what they meant to me.

By deconstructing my friendships, my personal relationship and how I interacted with people, I’ve truly learnt a lot about myself and the people I surround myself with.

Which brings me to the next big moment …. my personal relationship.

The cruelty behind good intentions

Saying goodbye to a partner of 6 years was unimaginably tough. Beyond the severance, there was the awful acknowledgement that there would no longer be any more shared memories between us.

But that was the biggest fallout of my critical reexamination of everyone in my life and what they meant to me. It costed me my girlfriend. A part of me couldn’t love her anymore, once I critically looked at her and that inner voice couldn’t be silenced.

So I had to let her go. I didn’t want to waste her time any longer, nor did I want to drag anything out further, especially if it was going to just cost us even more.

Saying the last goodbye to her, was the moment where I learned just how tough and relentless you had to be, to stay strong on your course. No matter how good my intentions were, the process was still cruel.

I’ve likened it to a stabbing, only I had to keep twisting the knife.

It was awful. The tears, the pleas, the broken heart … all of it tore away at me, and I still cannot believe how I held onto the knife and kept stabbing away.

The quote the road to hell is paved with good intentions have never rung more true to me, than when I broke my partner’s heart.

It still frightens me, just how harsh I became in that moment and how much it cost me to do the right thing.

I knew, deep down, that this was the humane thing to do, that prolonging anything, any further was the truly callous act, because she deserved a partner who loved her from top to bottom. She deserved better than what I was giving.

But it didn’t make it any more right, when I said goodbye to her for the final time.

The guilt may never fade away from this scar.

But that is the price I have to pay for making such a horrible call for both of us, and in a way, its why I have to make all these changes, worth that sacrifice.

Speaking of expenditure …

The depths of desperation

Whilst I might have been lucky during COVID-19 lockdowns, I was still robbed of 2 years, just like everyone else.

Which meant my actual life plans were now postponed by two years and to say that I was furious, was an understatement.

My once wishy-washy nature regarding my career, was now one of an unhinged desperado. From the very beginning of the year, I made a vow to get out of retail as soon as possible.

This meant that I committed to an insane 6 day work week regularly, and countless hours to build up my connection to the event industry, where I wanted to transition to.

Because my full time retail job wasn’t that taxing, I was able to relax at work, before charging into an event on the weekend or sometimes right after the store shut for the day.

Work became my life, because it was all I could focus on. The rewards were also triggering my mind, associating happiness with work, because I would receive such a dopamine rush whenever I could grind at an event.

This vow to grind away in events, started in March, with the very first event I found through a Facebook network. The first ever gig with the Untitled Group, For the Love. My first taste working for an event company and I was hooked ever since.

Events is where I belong.

After working the For the Love gate entry shift, I threw myself in with an reckless abandon that made me almost appreciate the slower pace of retail.

But that near-appreciation didn’t last long, because I was soon racking up so much experience that it was impossible for me retain that job any longer.

August was my final shift for Miniso, and I was never happier to leave such a dreary industry and enter a much brighter one.

It goes without saying that if I wasn’t so desperate to get out, I wouldn’t have been so motivated to push myself so hard through over-working.

There was a strange sense of despair to my desperation that made me put aside my physical health, mental and even self-reflection to get out.

The freedom that I’ve earned now as an event operator, only occurred because I pushed myself out of fear from becoming the very thing I despised … a guy who hates his job, but won’t move on from it.

That is not the prison I aspire to nor will ever want to be trapped in again.

It was that disconsolate drive to get out of a shitty job that powered me through almost everything.

From 24 days of straight work, to an incredibly busy social calendar where I barely saw my own home, my life transformed dramatically from lazy retail work to overworking in events.

Which meant that I also changed a lot.

The final lesson: the radical nature of change.

To identify the current Damocles is to acknowledge that 2022 improved him in almost every single facet. He is currently fitter, tanner, stronger and more driven than any version of him in the past.

He is also incredibly confident, but relaxed about his own self-worth and knows exactly just how valuable and useful he is to his friends, his employer and to himself.

This is such a radical departure from the earlier version of him, because in all honesty, the desperation, drive and purpose in which he decided to completely revamp his life would not have existed without the pandemic.

COVID-19 had a lot of far-reaching consequences, but for me, it completely changed the way how I viewed my life. 2022 wasn’t just about exiting the pandemic and trying to reassemble what once was.

It was about seizing an opportunity to completely change the way how I lived. Events were now coming back and they had just lost a lot of workers.

It was the perfect storm for a guy like me to come in and make my mark. So I seized it with both hands and then some.

I wouldn’t be working for Federation Square and Melbourne Showgrounds, if I didn’t take job interviews on my lunch breaks in a shopping centre.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if I didn’t have the drive to push forwards, despite the heavy workload and long hours.

I wouldn’t have the events experience I do now, if I didn’t take a chance on multiple companies and start to seriously build my work portfolio.

The Damocles that stand before the world today, is a direct result of hard work, grit and insane luck that happened throughout the year

I’ve become a radically different person. More extroverted, less prone to repeating mistakes, highly driven and still ambitious. If I can achieve this much change in a year, what can I do more in 2023?

That is the question that will need to be answered by the end. It’s a vague plan, but those are the ones that can truly tackle the unknown. Anything more specific and I’ll be unlikely to see it through.

I learned a lot of lessons in 2022 and all of them have been harsh and life-altering. But at the end of the day, they’ve improved me far more than I could have hoped for.

If I can survive that much development, then I am eager to see how much I can push this year.

As a 22nd squadron once proclaimed proudly …

Who Dares Win.

And I’m ready to defy the odds again.

~ Damocles.

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