Lucifer – I’m not normally one for sappy TV shows, but occasionally I indulge. I think I’ve read too many YA novels to not derive some guilty pleasure out of a show like this. Especially when the song choices are just too good.

Picture me like this … tall, tanned, leanly muscular and with the perfect amount of scruff across my jaw and cheeks.

I have dark short hair, sliced and cut into a undercut. Annoyingly when I exercise, a lock of hair normally curl over my forehead. I think it’s untidy, but apparently women are drawn to it. My eyes are dark green, and I have a habit of placing my index finger along my cheekbones when I’m thinking or being flirtatious. which are normally intertwined together, because if I am being flirtatious with you, then I’m thinking about you.

Everything about you. How you think, the way you laugh, the dimples on your smile, the toss of your hair when you’re nervous, the tilt of your head when you stare … anything you do, I’m interested, curious and intrigued.

The first thing I look at in a woman, are her eyes. Not the face, the bust, the hips or the bottom … it’s always the eyes. If she has beautiful eyes, I’m switched on, but if she has interesting eyes, then I’m turned on.

It’s always easy to tell when they have interesting eyes, because you’ll normally can’t read what they are feeling. They’ll always be enigmatic, staring back at you, without wavering attention. A woman can have beautiful eyes, dazzling different colours and sweeping lines, but she’ll never be interesting if you can see everything she is feeling.

When I make a joke, a woman with beautiful eyes will laugh along, whether she finds it funny or not, because she’s attracted to me. But an pair of interesting eyes will always keep her intentions unclear.

I’ve searched many women’s eyes in my life, but hers was the only one that remained interesting.

I met her under special circumstances. What I mean by that is that they were special to me, but ordinary to everyone else.

To all, they were attending an Opera. As for me? I was experiencing my first taste of Turandot.

It all started with the colour of her long dress. It was impossible to miss. That damn colour haunted my dreams for the next 5 months. Honeyed, warm, amber and just the right side of bright, the satin weave made her dress beautifully lustrous and created incredible dips of fabric in all the right places. A royal blue sash kept the dress around her waist like a belt, and offered generous views of her long legs, as the fabric of her dress ebbed and flowed with each step.

Her left shoulder was left bare, as the dress came up in a classic chartreuse style and accentuated her long slender neck that swept up her warm golden brunette locks into a classic bun that only enhanced her naturally elegant features.

But it was her eyes that caught me off guard. It’s always the eyes ….

They were the most impenetrable blue I have ever seen anywhere. They glittered like sapphires, radiating a confidence, intelligence and wry detachment on everything they saw.

I was besotted. Smitten, infatuated and enraptured. I knew right there and then, I had to find out who she was, even though we were just lining up for our ticket check. Even though I was a stranger. Even though, this wasn’t a bar that screamed “pick me up”.

As I walked forwards, ignoring the small murmurs of protest about line-cutting, I knew that I had to take my chance. By now, the murmurs had become general discontent, and she is slowly becoming aware of the commotion I’m causing behind her.

When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is to not let the bees know you’re coming.

She turns around with an amused smile and looks into my eyes. Up close, it’s hard not to catch my breath. She’s elven in looks, with defined cheekbones and full lips. Her ears tapered slightly upwards to accentuate the sweeping lines of her features and I can’t help but note the wisps of her golden hair that seem to shimmer in the light of the opera room.

Did you just quote Winnie the Pooh at me?

I couldn’t think of a better pick-up line. I figured … a woman like you, would appreciate a classier quote.

Her genuine amusement and smile at the compliment is enough for me to be assured that this flirtatious to and fro between strangers is going well. But it was the fact that she didn’t blow me off completely, that proved to me I was allowed to keep my eyes locked onto hers.

I’m surprised you didn’t quote Turandot at me. she said slyly

Love is in vain, if luck isn’t there. I replied loftily. And I’m lucky to be here, seeing someone as lovely as yourself.

She laughs wholeheartedly as we inch closer to the ticket box. Really now?

Yes. I say with complete sincerity, maintaining eye contact and trying my best to communicate the depth of emotions she has stirred in me, within minutes. She looks back and I see a tiny trace of emotion crept across her blue irises before they disappear. The ticket collector looks at our tickets, and without hesitation I demand something ridiculous.

Please, seat me next to her.

I’m afraid, I can’t … oh sir, you already are! says the flustered ticket attendant, as she looks at our tickets in confusion.

She looks at my ticket and gives me a surprised look, before it is replaced with a look of daring.

It must be fate. I say assuredly with a smile. I hold out my arm, and ask Shall we go to our seats, Ms?

Scarlett. Scarlett Greene. she says as she takes my arm.

Dorian Wilde. Pleased to make your acquaintance Ms Greene.

I can’t tell you exactly what happened in the opera, except that we were much more interested in one another than what was happening on the stage. We mimed to each other throughout the entire opera, her faux yawns matching mine, the playful looks of mischievousness replaced by daring, seductive looks in an instant.

By the half-time interval started, we were out of the door and hailing a taxi, back to her apartment. I remember the rush, of restraining ourselves. We sat on opposite sides of the taxi cab, our hands close, but not close enough, the sound of rain slowly pattering on the roof of the car.

It seemed like the rhythm of nature itself, was matching the pace of our heartbeats, our anticipation increasing with every minute of the ride. I found myself unable to look away, the profile of Scarlett’s face against the stained window, as the city lights cast shadows across her features, hauntingly beautiful.

She looked like an angel.

When the taxi cab finally pulled up to her apartment, a luxurious condo on the 7th floor, she was leading by the hand through the lobby and into the elevator. I was swept along, through the halls of the apartment block and finally near her door.

As she slipped the key in, I placed my hand near her face, on the wall and stood there, as she slowly turned around and looked up at me with those voluminous blue eyes. We stood there, for the longest second of our lives, staring at each other, nose to nose, soaking in each other’s presence.

We were hungry for each other.

A second later, we were crushed against each other, my hands, gripping her waist and the back of her head, cradling both like precious jewels, her hands running across my torso, gripping my shoulders underneath my blazer, then moving up and across my face as I kissed her passionately.

Somehow the door to her apartment shut, and we navigated the place blind, with only the moonlight to guide us. We were unable to let go, our bodies locked in tango that neither of us would let go.

Without hesitation, I lifted her upwards and onto her kitchen bench, where she panted heavily into my mouth. as she scrabbled at the buttons of my shirt. I kept kissing her, caressing her beautiful face, letting my hands explore every single dip and rise of her features, enjoying the feel of her hair swiping along the back of my fingers.

As she ripped my shirt off, letting the silken fabric fall to the ground, I grabbed her closer to me, pressing our bodies together hard, her golden brunette hair now cascaded down her muscled back, and creating an image that stunned me momentarily.

I pushed her away from me for a second, as she looked at me confused, and hungry.

Incredible, I whispered, as she smiled dazzlingly at the compliment and hopped down off the bench, to undo her dress.

Whipping her shoes away, and undoing the clasp that held the chartreuse dress together, Scarlett Greene was now my entire world, nothing existed beyond her.

Standing there, half naked, only in lingerie, with her wavy hair tossed, each every way, she posed slightly, poised and confident.

I laughed reflexively in happiness and took a teasing single step closer and pausing just long enough. Sick of the games she leapt at me and wrapped her incredibly soft, and lithe legs around me, causing us both to pant as we kissed through our efforts.

I carried her across to the wall that led to her bedroom and cradling the back of her head, pinned her against the wall, our kisses still coming thick and fast. Her full breasts pressed and heaved against my chest, as she broke the kiss, to run her tongue along my neck, whilst she shed my pants, undoing the belt and the trousers in mere seconds.

Staring at her, as we exchanged incredulous smiles and breaths, I held up my hand between us and walked past her slowly, towards the bedroom.

Laughing at the gentlemanly gesture, Scarlett grasps my hand and allows herself to be led to her silken Queen-sized bed.

As I lay her gently on the bed, she looks up at me and I stare at her blue eyes, lost for words. She runs her hand along my face, stroking my cheekbones and tracing the shape of my jaw.

I returned the favour, letting my hands slowly run down, until they trace her shoulder blades and and unclasp her bra in a single movement., freeing her breasts.

Scarlett’s hands pulls me close and down on top of her, and as we continue our exploration …. she whispers into my ear

Dorian … drive me wild please.

Author’s Note

Figured, I’d stop it there, before it gets a bit too graphic, which I notice tends to sound very gross. Genitals have never sound particularly sexy and I was definitely running out of adjectives.

This was an exercise in how I could build a highly charged, sexual atmosphere, and I credit most of it to the show where I got the screen-grab from. L

I would say, I hope you enjoyed reading this, but that’s implying a lot.

So instead, I’ll just say, don’t expect too much of this type of content in the future, although I will come back and continue to practice these sort of scenes.

~ Damocles.

An Interview with a Newly Minted 28yo.

Yeah … that is me.

What is your name?

My pen-name is Damocles, and I’ll keep my actual name redacted for obvious reasons, that are only clear to me. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life … stupid, dickhead, idiot, boss, mate but out of all of them, I think the most appropriate one has always been “hard-arse.” I’m hard on everyone, but mostly myself.

cogito, ergo sum – I think, therefore I am.

What does today mean to you?

According to time, I’m currently 28 years old, another step towards old and apparently my prime. Both of which I beg to differ.

However, if you’re mean what does today mean as a concept .. well … let’s not have that metaphysical discussion right now, except to sum it up as … it’s just another day, where I need to work on improving something about myself or one of my many interests and skills.

carpe diem – Seize the day.

If you had to sum yourself up in a few words, what would they be?

Reader, Shooter, Racer & Savant.

I love reading books, almost as much as I like the act of writing. Almost everything I’ve ever learnt, came from a physical book and it being expressed in an intriguing way.

Shooting isn’t actually something I do even though I do have plans on acquiring a rifle and a pistol one day, but I think of myself as a straight shooter. I don’t like wasting time, talking a lot or playing games. I prefer to be clear, direct and precise in everything I do, just like a bullet.

I chose the word shooter, because at the end of the day, I’ve instilled in myself a military obsession that will never fade, and I chose to hold the ethos of a military man, despite having never served.

Racing has been in my DNA since I first picked up a Nintendo 64 controller, and won my first race in MarioKart 64. That feeling of crossing the line first never disappeared and I’ve been obsessed with speed ever since. I’m a petrol-head to the core and I’ll never stop admiring cars, speed and pure performance.

Savant is just a pretentious word I chose, because it matched the S in shooter. I like to play with my words a lot, and seeing words next to each other, with a pattern gives me great pleasure. Savant is there, because I consider myself a student in all facets of life. If I’m not learning something new every day, then the day is wasted. I’m curious by nature, cynical in mindset and capable in most capacities. I relish the idea of becoming a modern day Renaissance man, and to that … I’m always learning something.

non scholae, sed vitae discimus – We learn not for school, but for life.

Do you have a style icon?

I actually have several style icons, most of them silver screen inspired. Fashion has always been something of importance for me, as part of my identity and theatrical side.

For my every-day look, I am usually rocking what I call the “off-duty cop” look, with plain cargo pants that hide their pockets well, a henley shirt and a flannel shirt over the top, for colour and an extra layer. This was inspired by one of my favourite Western TV series, Justified, in which I do my very best to copy Raylan Given’s casual Southern style. It also helps that the pants can carry a multitude of items, I deem necessary for my EDC habits and I just like the overall mix of functionality and style.

For my tennis look, I am literally decked in Under Armour gear from head to toe. My obsession with UA as a brand began, when I first started researching tactical equipment and their combat boots have been on my feet since day one. I am largely inspired by the inimitable Roger Federer, whose colour coordination, effortless style and grace on the tennis court has stuck with me the moment I saw him in the Australian Open. Whilst I know that he is most famous for his Nike partnership, and now recently Uniqlo, UA has been more affordable to me and I find that as long as I got a good colour coordination going, I can at least poorly imitate the GOAT in some shape or form. My tennis wardrobe is colourful, with lots of blues, red, and white and I always do my best to match my wristbands to my shoes.

For my classy casual look, it falls in line with the current Formula 1 racers, with polo shirts, comfortable golf shorts and sharply defined sunglasses with athleisure shoes. This is probably my go-to summer and holiday look, with this wardrobe I am able to attend classy events without standing out and be comfortable enough to not fidget in the heat.

For my suited looks, I will always fall back to Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. His suits in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace are my favourite cuts, and he looks incredibly immaculate in those 2 movies. I also happen to adore his peacoat in Skyfall, but what really cemented him as my style icon for suited looks, was when he stepped off the plane in the Bahamas, and was casually doing up his blazer with just one hand. His serious, sexy but deadly, classy but scary demeanour was exactly how I wanted to present myself in a suit. Ever since then, I’ve loved that combination, and will be willing to extend a nod of gratitude to another style icon in his own right, Agent 47 from the Hitman Trilogy, with that beautifully tall collared long coat and the iconic red tie.

To sum up, Roger Federer, James Bond, Charles Leclerc, and Raylan Givens.

citius altius forties – Faster, higher, stronger.

How do you handle stress?

I think I handle stress well. I’ve always tried to instil in me, a good ability to multi-task and operate efficiently in everything I do. I enjoy the feeling of making a way out of things. I’ve never been one to really stumble over stress too much, partly because I see time as such a lengthy thing. If you can spit out 5 words, clap your hands twice, and overtake a car in 1 second … just think of all the things you can accomplish in a minute or an hour.

When time is that slow, stress just tends to melt away. You always know that you have plenty of time to do everything.

I suppose the only time stress is a really big factor, is when I am forced to rely on others, then I suppose the hard-arse in me comes out. Even then, it’s never too awful, because I build up such a strong team around me, that a lot of that stress melts away, when I see their competency and initiative-taking.

Stress is always easier to deal with, when you got plans in place before hand and you know how to execute them. But be loose enough to deal with anything surprising along the way.

labor omnia vincit – Hard work conquers all.

Where do you feel most at peace?

On my own, when I’m walking around the city, wandering aimlessly. Peace to me is rare and I only ever really get that feeling when I’m alone and walking in a place where there are people, but they’re not aware of you. I like to know that I’m alone, amongst strangers.

It’s a weird feeling, because that is the only time where I really achieve some type of zen. Every thing else, I do, I’m either riding an adrenaline high or I’m bored stiff and anxiously trying to scratch the itch to do something. No matter whether I’m playing golf, tennis, racing cars or writing, I wouldn’t label those things as peaceful, but focused intensity.

So I suppose, peace is rare in my life then, because I hardly walk aimlessly anywhere. I’m too busy trying to be busy.

flectere si nequeo superos, ancheronta movebo – If I cannot move Heaven, I will raise Hell.

What are you afraid of?

The biggest fear I have right now, is my failure as an individual to reach my full potential. Everywhere I look, I see other people surging ahead of me, and it makes me envious and more determined to maximise myself.

If I had to boil it down, it would be my career. That is what makes me the most anxious and afraid. I’m terrified that I can’t get into the events industry and that I’ll never really amount to anything beyond what I am now.

morte magis metuenda senectus – Old age should rather be feared than death

When have you felt uncomfortable in your own skin?

I’m honestly not sure, probably 3 years ago, when I really studied myself in the mirror and wondered what could be done better. I was overweight and only getting chubbier by the day. My clothes weren’t fitting properly and there was a lot of excess flub on my face and neck.

I also knew that this excess weight was slowing me down, whenever I raced in go-karts.

It was around that time, I made that B30 Challenge for myself, to get “race-ready” and honestly, I’ve never looked back since. I enjoy exercising now, getting out in the sun, and really pushing my physical skills and limits in tennis and endless sprints with my weight vest.

Sometimes, it takes that critical look at yourself, and the acknowledgement that you’re not happy with how you look, to really help swing things around.

non progredi est regredi – To not go forward is to go backwards

When have you felt the most lucky?

Honestly, all the time. I think I’m a very lucky person. I’m surrounded by a lot of great friends and people, supported by clever mentors, my family isn’t a mess like so many others, I live in a country that has incredible citizen benefits, fresh air, water and huge expanses of land …. and I’m currently living in one of the most liveable cities in the entire world.

I’m not terribly ugly, my face is relatively symmetrical, I’m healthy, slim and confident, with a huge ego and self-esteem. I got a gorgeous girlfriend, and I like to think I’m intelligent, emotionally-savvy and funny.

There isn’t really a day that goes by, without me thinking to myself, I’m lucky to have all of this.

annuit coeptis – He approves our undertakings.

What keeps you up at night?

Writing honestly. Whenever I write, it’s a pure burst of creativity that refuses to relinquish control until I finish it. I can’t control the flow of words that come out.

My fear of poor career prospects doesn’t keep me up though, if you thought that. Oddly, I know it’s not rational and I pay very little mind to it, because I am actively working on avoiding that issue.

If I am working on something, you’ll find me burning the midnight oil often, simply because my mind operates best when everyone else is asleep.

ante meridiem – Before noon, A.M.

How do you deal with people looking up at you?

Not very well. I struggle a lot with people admiring me and looking up to me. It’s a weird feeling, since I don’t feel worthy of it. However, I do take it seriously, because having been in so many leadership roles, whether I wanted them or not, I know that I have to work twice as hard as the people serving me.

I’ve always been a firm believer in leading by example and being the person that can predict trouble and steer the team clear of it. I’m passionate about the people who work for me, and I think I’ll always try to protect them the best I can.

I suppose that is the only way, I try to address admiration. I just keep on trying to be better than I was yesterday.

But in all honesty, I suck at dealing with compliments. I break out in a rash and will dismiss it.

Terribly rude.

I should just accept it more gracefully in the future.

non ducor, duco – I am not led; I lead.

How about down?

I love it when people talk down to me or treat me in some type of horrible way. My inner competitive side comes out, and suddenly, it’s a measure of who is the bigger asshole. Usually I come out on top, with my disrespectful, sarcastic and downright rude observations and attitude.

Savagery is something that I am well versed in, receiving and delivering.

In a lot of ways, it’s easier for me to process insults than compliments, because I can always use it, to improve myself. With a compliment, there isn’t much encouragement to better oneself. However, with criticism, feedback and insults, there is always a grain of truth to be discovered, and you can always find a way to address or ignore it.

Recently, there has been a lot of slander about me, thanks to the post I made a few months ago and I find myself immensely enjoying it. There is no better feeling than when people have a misconstrued perception about you, and you know it to be completely false.

It’s hilarious.

In the end though, I’ll always appreciate when people call me out for my shit. Honesty is always welcomed, especially because I value the truth a lot.

I can’t grow as a person, without other people helping me see my flaws along the way.

nosce te ipsum – Know thyself.

Do you have any advice for people who are struggling with something right now?

I used to think that I had good advice for people. But now I realise I’m just as full of shit, as the next person.

So my advice is … tough it out, learn to take a breath, and keep on going. Don’t just think about it, commit to an action and see it through. Good or bad, either way, it’s going to be fun to find out.

aut viam inveniam aut faciam – I will either find a way or make one.

What does it mean to be a man?

A man is a person who stands by his word, but acknowledges all his faults too.

Too many men out there, do the first half, but not enough of the second. They treasure their word, their respect and their reputation too highly, to the point that when they do fuck up, they never admit fault.

You can’t be a man then. A honest, and true man would admit his wrongs and work hard to never repeat them. Apologise and don’t fuck up again.

You can mess up in another way, but the same mistake should never be repeated. To do so, means that you haven’t grown as a person, and remembered your faults. That isn’t manly, or even human. That is stupidity.

The other aspect of manhood I want to address is also self-sufficiency. I believe that a man should be have skills in everything, and any environment he finds himself in. Whether it is the kitchen, the hard-courts or a garage, as a modern man, he should possess skills and a familiarity in all those environments.

This is the 21st Century …. the internet exists and there are no excuses why you shouldn’t be able to know how to change a tire, iron your clothes or whip up a French Omelette.

Being a man, is about learning as many skills to be as self-reliant as possible, staying true to your word and being open to frank, honest conversations about your mistakes or attitudes.

If you think you can do all of that, think again. Being a man is a process, not a destination.

astra inclinant, sed non obligant – The stars incline us, they do not bind us.

If people had to remember one thing about you, what would it be?

That I was a semi-pro in everything I was ever passionate about.

There is such a strong desire to be a Renaissance man, that I honestly have such a long list of skills and things I want to be good at. Even impossibly expensive desires, like to be a pilot or be SCUBA qualified, still rate highly on my wish-list of skills I wish to possess.

The degree of skill is also a huge factor for me …. it’s not enough that I want to be good at it, I want to qualify at a level where I can compete in them too. I may never reach the height of that industry, but I want to be good enough to enter that field and hold my head high, amongst those who made it their life dreams.

Tennis, Golf, Badminton, Cooking, Writing, Racing, Martial Arts, Film-Making and Critics, Entrepreneurship …. I want to be remembered as the guy who did it all, and never rested, until he got near the top in everything.

Life is too exciting, too wondrous and too short to not try to be good at everything.

Who Dares Win.

fortes fortuna adiuvat – Fortune favours the bold.

Any final words?

Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me and reading this faux interview.

I’ll just leave you with one final Latin quote

Faber est suae quisque fortunae

Every man is the artisan of his own fortune.

~ Damocles

P.S. quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur – Anything said in Latin sounds profound.

Lockdown Desires

The end is so close … just another month before purgatory ends.

Today, I was asked … “What have you done during lockdown?”

It stymied me. I didn’t know how to answer. Because in all honesty, I wasn’t sure how to.

So much of my life had been dulled and blunted by the seemingly endless lockdowns, that I am sure my socialising skills were also rusty.

There is just that sort of sense, that I am not as funny, not as witty, not as sharp as I used to be. My usual acerbic wit now tripping over itself and I have truly rusted away slightly in the lockdown.

I can just tell these things, because I can feel myself not really engaging in conversations the right sort of way. My mind now stumbles out of the gate, instead of being in its’ normal zen-empty state.

It is truly annoying how badly the lockdowns have affected my own personal growth and development. I’ve gained a kilogram of weight, my dieting has suffered, my mental capacity is now struggling to put words to paper and my tennis skills have degraded.

To simply put, losing 2 years to inefficient state governance is not something I take very lightly.

Lockdowns have been their own type of purgatory, which, for the Abrahamic followers out there, is where you go before you are sent to heaven or hell.

I’ve always hated the concept of purgatory. That half-state before life or death, that in-between place that isn’t defined by any binary. It seemed like its’ own type of hell to me.

Lockdowns have definitely proven that, it really is my own personal hell. I hate the idea that I’ve become rusty, after I put so much work into myself. If there is one thing I despise the most, it’s the fact that nothingness led to my personal digression.

I can understand self-destructive habits, positive mentalities, addictions and healthy habits …. but I can’t fathom the state of limbo hurting me. I don’t want to either. That’s the pathway to nihilistic thinking.

Instead, what I’m planning on doing is making a list right now … a list of things I truly desire once the lockdowns have ended. It will be long, exhaustive and aimed at one thing … recapturing the spark of life that I am missing, currently.

Here goes:

  1. Go-Karting The reason is simple … the entire point of me dieting and exercising so hard, is to get lighter, so that my lap-times drop. I want to go Karting because I want to feel the thrill of racing at the limits and seeing my lap times improve with weight loss. I’ve also made promises to my mates I would go with them. I just want to race again.
  2. Fancy Dinners – I’ve never made any pretense that I enjoy the high-life. Eating at expensive places, once a week, is both a coping mechanism in a long-distance relationship (reminder of fonder times with the beloved) and an important mental indulgence after the strains of work. Melbourne is home to many a brilliant restaurateurs and it is only fair that after such a painful, extended lockdown, I do my part to get the local businesses up and running back to normal again.
  3. Live Jazz When was the last time I heard some live music? I miss the jazz bars of Melbourne so much, and to relax with a drink, some snacks, mood lighting and be well-dressed would be a night worth soothing the pains of lockdown.
  4. URBEXGod, it has been so long since I last stepped foot in the Melbourne CBD, and like an scorned lover, begging for the touch of reunion, I miss my darling city so much. I just want to walk her streets again, and fall in love with my home-town, after the besmirching it has received in the press of late. I want to soothe her and let her know that she is still my favourite woman, and that she will never be ugly in my eyes.
  5. Bookstore Browsing As a bookworm, I miss the smell, atmosphere and vibe of bookstores. I want to be amongst books and booklovers once again and just soak in that unique vibe.
  6. Cocktails – Who doesn’t miss the sensations of great drinks, great vibes and great bars? I want to enjoy my rum cocktails at a bar and be amongst people, watching them all have a great time and hear snippets of interesting conversations.
  7. Suiting Up – I won’t beat about the bush, and pretend that I am some type of fashionista, but I do take my own sense of style seriously. Going to nice dinners, bars and jazz venues give me that outlet to experiment and really push my own wardrobe in terms of pairing items together. I enjoy looking exceptional and taking pride in my own clothes, instead of the usual tennis-wear I sport daily.
  8. Badminton Sessions – One of the best things to come out of last year lockdowns, I miss playing Badminton with my friends and catching up with them weekly. It was a great way to socialise with them, keep loneliness at bay and just see them. I wonder how rusty I am with that sport now … regardless I miss it dearly and would love to just bring it back. Maintaining relationships take a lot of work, and a weekly sporting activity and dinner is such a lovely way to do it.
  9. Cinema – I’ve not stepped foot back in a cinema is a very long time. It is time I rekindled that magic, when the curtains pull back, the lights dim and the anticipation of movie captures your imagination. I can’t keep reviewing films on my PC screen all the time, because one day I might fall out of love with film. Cinemas exist to light that spark of film romance again.
  10. Tennis – Whilst a wall is great for practice, I miss my sessions with my tennis partner. I miss that thrill of competition, of dealing with loss, triumphs and everything in between. I miss the sensation of hardcourts beneath my feet and the mad dash for balls that are always just out of reach.
  11. Golf – I’ve recently taken up a passing interest in golf to help my father get out of his depressive funk and found that it was a lot more fun than I originally anticipated. I would like to … get into the swing of things and really improve my game. It’s relaxing, it’s addicting and I can’t be an arrogant, bourgeoisie snob without at least being able to find out my handicap.
  12. Events – Festivals … when are they coming back? I’ve missed them so much. I won’t complain about being over-charged for meals ever again, as long as I’ve surrounded by thousands of other happy idiots, smiling, having a good time and enjoying themselves at an event. This is the industry I want to make my legacy and career in … I want events to be a thing again, regardless of COVID.
  13. Formula 1 – 2022 better feature a return of Albert Park. I’ve adored, idolised and hyped back Formula 1 as an event to everyone, remotely interested, and I crave the soundscape that can only come from motorsport at its’ most pure and raw. I want to be a marshal at this event, and to not have the most sophisticated, engineering global circus visit for a third year would break my heart.
  14. Birthdays – So many of my friends’ birthdays have come and gone, without a mention. I miss shopping for gifts for them and seeing their delight upon seeing their present. It also gives me a handy excuse to continue to spread the good work and word of Made in Japan, my favourite kitchenware store in Melbourne.
  15. Beaches & St. Kilda – I miss my favourite town in Melbourne. St Kilda is such a vibrant, exciting and energetic place to be at, at any given time of the day or night. I still crave walking along its’ beaches and laughing at the crazy antics the locals would get up. I miss that strange, unique, St Kilda bohemian vibe.
  16. Extravagant Lunches – There is nothing more Melburnian than going half an hour out of your way, to find a great lunch. With COVID-19 lockdowns, the current craze is all about sandwiches and I can’t get enough of them. From Banh Mi to Tacos, lunch options are now supremely interesting, tasty and delicious. I want to venture back into Richmond, Fitzroy and Brunswick for these amazing options.
  17. Baked Goods – Is there any better feeling than biting into a hot, soft, crunchy toasted bread? I want my damn Apricot Danishes, my Vanillla slices, my Lune Croissants and the desserts from Brunetti. I just want to enjoy baked sweets again.
  18. Ice-Cream – Whilst I have little complaints about the local Ben & Jerry in my 5km radius, what I am truly missing is Gelato Messina … my mouth is literally watering at the idea of going back into that iconic Melbourne establishment and getting a double-scoop for their amazing gelato.
  19. Tourists – One of the biggest disappointments, is that my cousin was meant to come down and experience Melbourne the way how I recommended. I made so many plans for him, but alas lockdowns occurred. I want tourists to come back, marvel at the culture and sophistication of my city and populate the streets again. Nothing is more depressing than seeing empty streets on a Friday night.
  20. Public Transport – Experiencing a train ride again, is something I’ve actually missed. I used to take the sensation for granted, but now I miss it. There is something relaxing about the whole experience, compared to the stress of driving. Even just hopping on my local tram is an sensation I miss.
  21. Browsing & Shopping – While I hardly consider myself a serial shopper, I do miss the act of shopping, and browsing in stores. It saddens me when I see so many places shut down, so many unique items that could be marvelled over, gone forever simply because the business couldn’t stay afloat. Seeing so many empty shop fronts is always strange and surreal, and I would like to see my home town regain some of its unique shops and flavour once again.
  22. Attractive Women – This is a weird one, and is directly related to the fact that I often like people watching and being the quiet one amongst crowds. I’ve always loved how Melbourne women seem so effortlessly attractive in their style and poise and I’ve missed seeing attractive people everywhere, instead of my dull mirrored reflection. There are so many beautiful women out there, that make me double-take and catch my breath … I think it’s important for me to just admire the time I’m living in, and be grateful that there are just so many attractive people out there. Too often people proclaim they wished they live in another era, myself included, but when I behold some of the women out there, I find myself being grateful that people can be more insanely alluring than ever before in history and that I’m here to see it.
  23. Work – I miss going to work on a regular schedule and being able to be a good manager and organise things for my team. I desperately want the routine back and get paid to write on this blog during the duller times. I liked having regular sleeping habits, daily routines and some order in my life. It felt like the weeks, days and minutes went by quicker and I was earning my weekly rewards. Without work, time is a blur and nothing is more tragic than having days blend into each other. I like having purpose …
  24. Opera & Plays – Another fancy item, I do miss looking forwards to big Operas and their performances. I would also like to brush up on my Shakespeare and attend more plays to see how people interpret these timeless stories. Anything to just inject some culture and art into my system is always a boon.
  25. National Gallery of Victoria – One of the biggest shames of this entire lockdown, is that I missed the French Impressionism gallery that was on display. One of my all-time favourite art movements and I couldn’t see it with my own two eyes. I do dearly miss that experience of whiling away time, looking at art and finding out what is to my taste and what isn’t. The NGV is a world-class gallery and I miss walking its’ halls.
  26. Haircut – Probably my biggest pet peeve at the moment, is staring at the mirror and being bitterly disappointment with my unruly, unfashionably long hair that doesn’t seem to possess any angle that is remotely attractive. I’m going to relish the opportunity to cut & shave all of this mess of and get a sense of weightlessness on my scalp again. Long hair has never suited my functional nature and the idea of getting used to flicking my hair away is tiresome.
  27. The Girlfriend Experience – What I miss the most though, is spending time with my girlfriend and enjoying the city with her. A lot of things aren’t the same without her, and lockdowns have prevented a lot of trips that I wanted to make to see her and vice versa. Whilst things are OK between us, I do miss her terribly.

I could add a lot more, but for now … those are the key ones that I really want to do after these blasted lockdowns have ended.

It’s been ages since I last saw my friends, ages since I last enjoyed life outside the confines of my home and ages since I felt properly switched on.

The irony here of course, that within 3 months of doing all of those things, I shall probably be back on here, complaining about how stilted my life is.

But that’s a normal problem to have … unlike being stuck in purgatory for 2 years long.

And right now … I just want some normalcy back.

~ Damocles

What If? Damocles was a Journalist.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I actually do have formal journalistic training, having studied it in university.

The job of a journalist, despite the hyperbole and hatred surrounding the job in contemporary times, has always been to distil something vastly complex, into simpler terms.

It is not solely focused on finding out “the truth” as some crusaders might think, but instead 90% of the job is merely translating complicated issues into “layman” terms.

The truth behind something is already there. Anyone can find it by asking questions and digging in places where you shouldn’t. It is the process of “translating” that is where many people’s issues with the press lie.

Having studied history early in my life, due to an unhealthy obsession with all things Roman (re: The Sword of Damocles), what really surprised me in the process was the idea that the school of history was divided into many different interpretations ranging from the Annales school to the Marxist style of historiography.

What I had previously assumed was largely neutral, was now filled with many different coloured lens.

Of course, this shocked me. History was scientific. Dates, places and people were here and there … how can it be interpreted by so many schools?

How could events be twisted, manipulated and skewed in so many ways? You can’t argue that the Battle of Waterloo wasn’t a resounding victory for the British could you?

As it turned out, you can.

You can argue about how Napoleon was a dictator, a short, coarse Corsican who were thwarted by the heroic British.

Or inversely, you can define the first Emperor of France to be a brilliant tactician, whose men were so fiercely loyal to him, that they surrendered to him without a thought upon his return in 1815 and that his Napoleonic Code is the basis for much of Europe’s post feudal legal system.

This type of debate is incredibly common in history, with all types of figures, people and civilisations. For as many supporters of Ancient Egypt, there are an equal number of detractors. Then there are those who engage in biblical archaeology which seeks to bring a scientific and historical methodology to the stories of the bible and in that field there are billions of different thoughts.

History, as it turned out, is extremely open to how you choose to view things. With 20/20 hindsight or none, history is actually genuinely very subjective to your political and personal views.

After all, I choose to glamourise the Roman Empire … but to live in it during that time period was anything but. Does that stop me from romanticising that era of history though? Definitely not.

Thus, armed with a bitter cynicism, and a healthy amount of skepticism from my history lessons, when I entered the newsroom and learned about “left vs. right” I was hardly surprised.

After all journalists are merely contemporary historiographers. They are reporting on “history” in real time, with instantaneous bias, just as historiographers have done with past events.

This is the normal, and to think that the media in the past were any different is to dangerously assume that humanity at some point in history, wasn’t full of bullshit ideology.

Which of course, it has always been full of. That is just human nature.

The news today, is no more egregious than it was in the past when instead of discussing how crucial transgenderism is to the fabric of society, they were actively encouraging young men to sign up for the war effort against some foreign enemy, whether they be American, German, British, Iraqi, Japanese, Russian or whatever country did wrong against yours.

You, yourself, have merely grown up and recognised the fallacies of the 4th Estate and how it reports the news. Mix that in, with your own personal beliefs and political views, you will naturally fall into the left or the right category and lavish vitriol on journalists whose “news interpretations” clash with your bias.

Knowing all of this however, and having studied science in the past, I still wanted to become a journalist.

In particular, a War Journalist, so that I could mix my passion for the military with my current skills as a writer. I was inspired by the exploits of men like Michael Ware, whose raw bravery and talent in reporting in the most difficult of circumstances made for compelling journalism.

I was also fully aware that people hated the press. But strangely, that empowered me to want to seek out the underlying truth behind things more. I wasn’t afraid of the backlash I would receive, as I thought I was doing important work.

That is the basic tenacity any journalist must have in their arsenal though. For the millions that ignore you, spit at you, curse you and shove you away, there are always the hundreds that come to you, seeking repatriation for ill deeds and desperate for their voice to be heard about the caucus.

I remember excelling in long-form journalism, as the narrative style suited my writing methods best. For my first and so far only journalistic piece, I wrote about the mental health stigma in the Australia-Asian young community and how many of these young people felt marginalised, unsupported and unheard due to their health issues.

I asked a lot of people whether they wanted to be interviewed. I believe it was over 30 people.

Only 2 replied, but their interviews gave me more than enough information to write a compelling piece.

There is a strange intimacy when it comes to conducting interviews. It is a tricky balance of empathetic and interrogative. I need to steer the conversation, whilst allowing time for the subject to think, reply and emote.

I’ve always likened the process to the fastest seductive game ever played. I need to cajole, reassure, probe and investigate you as a person and the story you are telling me. It is seductive in nature, because I need to convince a stranger that they can trust me, to not only listen to their story but then to entrust me with their story.

After all, there is no worse feeling for a subject, to find that their words, their story has been twisted into a facsimile of what they felt is the right way of telling their personal tale. An occasion that has no doubt happened far too many times.

As you can probably tell in this What If? series so far, a lot of the jobs that I have chosen to be potential career avenues have all involved some element of deductive work and investigative techniques. Whether it is being a spy, a racer or a journalist, in some shape or form, there is a mystery to be solved and I would like to get to the bottom of it, whether it is the missing tenth of a second on a lap or a drug cartel’s subterranean lair, I want to find out why and how things happen.

Of all the jobs that I’ve considered, journalism is probably the closest I’ve got into venturing in that field, simply because my university was so immersive in providing its’ education. We had a proper newsroom, complete with recording equipment and 10 TV screens, always showcasing different news channels, I was told to simply “get out there and find a story” and overall, the whole process was more “on the job” learning than it was reading some dry textbook and doing lame exercises.

I remember volunteering for the student-run online newspaper, where I would write my movie reviews (which have carried on, in this blog) and investigating weird trends like Antarctic Tourism, which I actually held a prolonged interview about.

It is one of those things that I still love about journalism though … it is the access to insider knowledge that you can get, simply because you are the press. People are simultaneously too closed off and too open when the microphone is thrust upon them.

There is an almost instinctive need to tell the truth when a journalist asks you questions.

Only trained liars can avoid that instinctive urge and even then … it takes an experienced liar to sound convincing.

It is why so many people avoid the microphone like a plague. It is almost like they don’t trust themselves to be convincing.

That behaviour has always struck me as interesting. Even when I am the one being interviewed and am aware of all the tricks, there is a bizarre sensation of discomfort and an urgent desire to sound erudite, educated and exceptional.

Of course, most of the time, we sound like a bumbling idiot, and as an amateur journalist, I can definitely say that the worst part of the interview is trawling through 10 minutes of babbling nonsense to get 2 usable quotes in your article.

In a lot ways, being a journalist has become encoded in my DNA. I think you can perceive that in my writing.

I have a habit of distancing my emotions, whilst reporting on them simultaneously. I like to be factual, neutral and matter-of-fact when it comes to expressing or explaining things. Perhaps the thing most “un-journalistic” trait of my writing is my constant usage of complex words, simply because I wish to express my vocabulary and enjoy seeing alliteration in my descriptions. That … I pin on my fictional writing side.

This style though is part of a vow I took, when I first discovered the true nature of journalism, to present complicated issues, as factual I could, without any inherent bias, left or right (even though I am leaning left most of the time.) I dislike trying to convince or sway the public, preferring to let them come to their own conclusions about things.

Such neutrality however, means that I am unlikely ever to find a job in contemporary journalism, simply because of the inherent political nature of the industry nowadays. It is no longer profitable to just present the facts, now unwarranted analysis and subjective viewpoints are offered to grab attention with explosive headlines.

In a lot of ways, the 4th Estate has become more commercialised than ever before, with news from all types of corporations and organisations bombarding your internet browser upon opening it. With such commercialisation however, I think they have lost their focus.

Too much attention is angled at global news, due to the effects of globalism, causing people to suffer from a world weariness that was not really present in previous generations. After all, it is difficult to escape news from abroad, whether it be the latest doings of America, China, England or France.

Previous generations, merely had to read the paper once a week, and it focused purely on national news, with a section called “Global” if you were curious what else was happening around the world. This allowed people to be aware of the issues in their own country and focus on those problems. There wasn’t a need to worry about what a stranger 20,000kms away was going through and bemoan the state of affairs in that country too.

Privatisation of companies have also meant that news now had to be paid for, hidden behind paywalls just to generate revenue. Perhaps one of the main reasons why I defend the Guardian so much, is because they are one of the few news organisation that doesn’t hide their article behind a paywall, a stance that I back 100%, despite 80% of their content being leftist drivel.

I will admit, that I have a great fondness for them too, simply because the 20% of their long-form journalism is unmatched anywhere in the world, and that their investigations have burst open plenty of secrets, something that I aspired to do had I considered this career.

That is the point of being an educated reader though. If I am seeing too much leftist viewpoints from the Guardian, I should balance it with the more right outlooks from Fox or seek centrist perspectives like Financial Review. Then I can finally make up my mind about an issue, finally having considered all the coloured lens.

This open research into the smallest or the largest issues, is a trait that many people lack today, and should be taught as a habit for a lot of the population. Being informed is such an important critical analysis skill and in a lot of ways, is the best defensive tool against accidental indoctrination and the echo chambers of social media.

Despite these issues, I still consider journalism a crucial part of any functioning society and will always defend journalists who make it their mission to inform a grateful or ungrateful public.

Everyone dislike journalists, because they expose things that were better hidden and are as fallible in telling the news as non-journalists.

But you can’t despise someone for being human, and having an emotional response to a piece of history. In a lot of ways, journalists have always been the modern-day historians, forced to interpret “live” events in a way that appeal to their audience.

Just like Marxists and Annales historians argue over the French Revolution, Fox News argue with the CNN over the efficacy of Donald Trump.

These are just two viewpoints on an historical event. It is up to you, as an informed reader and member of the public, to carefully consider both points, acknowledge their merits and pitfalls and seek the middle truth between the two factions.

In a strange way, perhaps there is a need for journalists whose sole job is to simply find the middle ground, present both pros and cons of both ideologies and let the public decide.

This What If? is a strange one, because whilst I am not a true career journalist, deep down, I still hold the tenets and values of non-subjective news-reporting dear to me, and still practice it in everything I write.

What a pity, I suppose, I don’t have the energy to be that middle ground journalist.

There is a sore need for it.

~ Damocles

Spider-Man (2002). J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, in what might be the most comically accurate live action casting ever. He will always be my favourite part of the Raimi trilogy, undisputedly great.

Just one final diverting point, I always found it amusing that people decry the supposedly “modern issue” of private owners of news organisations, who are free to espouse, endorse and encourage certain viewpoints through the media (Rupert Murdoch et al.).

This isn’t a 2000s issue … Stan Lee made a point of it, when he created J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle who only ever ran smear campaigns of Spider-Man, back in 1963.

It just goes to show that nothing is original, only repackaged.

What If? Damocles Was A Spy.

Burn Notice, one of my favourite, spy TV series. Watch this if you aren’t sold.

One of my earliest career choices; getting involved in the intelligence community was a high priority straight out of high school.

I glamourised the role naturally. After all, as a Bond aficionado, I grew up idolising Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of the world’s most famous spy, and subsequently fell in love with the character.

One thing led to another and I ended up buying all the books. It was the Ian Fleming novels that slowly opened my eyes to the fact that the intelligence community wasn’t quite as dramatic as the films portrayed. After all, in one of the short stories to feature the spy, The Property of a Lady, Bond does nothing more exciting than attend at Sotheby’s auction for a Faberge Egg and photograph a Soviet spy.

Then came the Bourne films which really shook my ideas about espionage. The gritty realism, the tense paranoid atmosphere and the idea of the government burning any ties with you disturbed me to the core. I became so much more aware of the consequences and yet somehow, even more invested in the idea of making it a career.

What I quickly learned in reality, is that a “spy” is actually a dreadfully dreary job. You mix the paranoid, slow boredom of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with bursts of frantic, terrifying action from Bourne and that is relatively accurate depiction of a spy.

When I initially applied for the Australian Intelligence Services, ASIS & ASIO, I was informed that there was going to be two primary roles. What I had set my eye on was an Intelligence Analyst. Whilst the Intelligence Officer role was more akin to genuine HUMINT (Human Intelligence) gathering and more of a dream for a Bond fan, it was actually in the Analyst role where I felt I was best suited.

I wanted to study overseas movement and track threats to Australian soil, so naturally I favoured ASIO for its “overseas focus” and there was something appealing about all the detective work I was going to have to do for the organisation in an Analyst role.

If there is one thing that I derive great pleasure from, it is detective work. I am no Sherlock Holmes, but I do practice a lot of the traits he exercises. From maintaining a high observational awareness to constantly analysing little clues around me, I have often found my deductive skills proving more correct than wrong in a lot of cases.

Whether it is human behaviour or noting how many steps are in the front of your house, I like to be constantly observing and watching, making up little stories about why the man in front of me is carrying an umbrella and a trilby or why the woman who got off the bus managed to get ahead of me, through a shortcut street.

I also would like to confess that I consider myself a bit of an actor, another valuable trait that would serve any spy well. After all, spies are the best actors in the world, able to sell accents, personal histories, physical traits and lives. Their very life depends on their ability to sell the lie as the truth.

The inherent qualities of a good spy is their ability to act, observe, manipulate and covertly operate under high-intensity environments for extended periods of time.

I only ticked some of those boxes. Perhaps with training I might be able to master it all, but that isn’t the topic we are discussing. After all, millions of people out there can be something, something if they got the proper training.

No, what I want to delve into is the lowly analyst, the faceless minion that doesn’t get the attractive femme fatale nor any of the respect that those field operatives receive.

Instead they are regulated to some listening post, hearing endless chatter and passing it onto the local station. This analyst might be called upon to organise a logistic run to some hidden spy cell in Beirut, then be tasked with data-mining a Chinese shell company before finally compiling a report on the movements of a certain foreign attaché at a local embassy and confirm whether they really are the “Vice President of a Swiss Export Minerals Company.”

This unglamorous job, comes with zero recognition, bizarre surrealist attitude to life, death and whatever lies between and is exactly the type of role that intrigued me, simply because who in the right mind would want to come home, knowing that they were responsible for staving off a terrorist attack and organising one overseas, to a bland meal of noodles and 2 day old duck meat.

The strange dichotomy of that job fascinated me. They can’t talk about their work, vent their anger, except within the confines of the thousands of other analysts who suffer from the same monotony. Yet without their contributions, SF units around the world wouldn’t have intelligence to operate on, countless innocent lives would be lost and the imminent sensation of World War 3 wouldn’t be a fear, but a reality.

But it was the detective work that really enthralled me. After all, analysts are paid to detect patterns, observe strange behaviour and piece together a puzzle.

That is what almost made me apply to be a spy. The greatest, most complex and global puzzle ever devised. A fragment of an intercepted phone call, would point in the direction of a bank account in Turin, before it would connect up to a chance meeting between a DJ and a rich oil Sheik. That DJ would then launder the cash into party narcotics which would then aim the rifle at the Narco syndicates in Columbia.

The trail would continue on and on and on … my every hour spent staring at multiple computer screens, desperately trying to keep pace of all the connections that a terror organisation would need to evade me.

It was that idea, of engaging on a global scale, the most frustrating, high-stakes, mental, anonymous chess that really sold me the idea of becoming an analyst.

I didn’t want to be the guy that got pointed in the direction of the bad guys.

I wanted to be the precursor to the arrow. I wanted to be the GPS.

Perhaps the only movie that really sold the importance of an stressed, determined and anonymous intelligence analyst is Zero Dark Thirty (2012) where Maya Harris is the one ultimately responsible for the take-down of UBL not the infamous SEAL Team Six.

In other forms of fiction, the character of Jack Ryan is not inherently an action hero type. He is meant to be a thoughtful professor who was a former Marine and an intelligence analyst in the CIA. That is his biggest appeal, his inherent stature as a civilian, not a super tough soldier, thrust into this world of espionage, half truths and constant lies.

I’ve had many an interest in so many fields over the years, but intelligence-gathering and the military branch have always ranked amongst my favourites to indulge in. For me, this wish fulfilment of becoming a spy, to be engaged in global affairs and become really immersed in an almost alternate reality, is so tempting because of how difficult the challenge would be.

But I know that I would leave the job, a cynical bitter person, robbed of any sense of fulfilment because for every attack you stop, another is only brewing weeks later. For every bad man you eliminate, his sons are there to pick up his arms.

That is the cyclical nature of the job though. It does not make your tenure unworthy nor useless.

I just couldn’t handle that feeling though.

To sum up, if I was to become a spy, I would prefer to be an analyst. There is nothing truly remotely sexy about that.

But the truth is, I would shun the stunning femme fatales, the Aston Martins, the death-defying stunts and Tom Ford suits if I could be the man who would be the true menace behind every plot uncovered and stopped early.

I would be OK knowing that I would go home to my boring home, and live an anonymous life, despite my extraordinary work. That is the ultimate humility after all … to silently watch and guard without any thanks.

The further we are from the last disaster, the closer we are to the next.

~ Damocles.

What If? Damocles was a Musician.

The Pink Panther (1963) – Fran Jeffries singing Meglio Stasera and bewitching me for the entire song. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Henry Mancini for his brilliant work across film and for getting me into jazz.

As is typical of Asian children, I was given a choice … play the piano or nothing really. It wasn’t really a choice, more another chore that would continue for a decade and a half.

In that time, I was relentlessly pounded into submission by the same style of music. Classical.

Mozart this. Beethoven that. Hayden who? Bach what? Chopin where? Debussy how?

An endless slog of scales, chromatic or arpeggio, and constant rote learning of songs.

For a improvised individual such as myself, it was bloody boring work. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I can look back and say that, despite my horrible teaching methods, I actually turned out OK.

I could hold a tune, well enough until I hit Grade 7 in music, which in Australia is the 2nd highest away from proper professional playing. Had I preserved, I probably would have graduated with a diploma in music playing and enough to kickstart a music career.

But I wasn’t interested. My fingers had already become slender, thin and nimble after years of playing, and they were sick of banging on the same keys, on the same damnable upright piano. Playing the piano was a chore, a grubby feeling akin to a dancing monkey and I knew that my heart resented this skill instead of endorsing it.

So I called it quits. Walked away from the piano altogether. But to this day, my fingers still “phantom play” keys and occasionally I get this feeling to let my fingers across the keys once more.

But the rust had truly settled in and every time I think I might derive some pleasure out of piano playing, I get this strange feeling of Stockholm syndrome.

There was only ever one time where I felt proper exhilaration playing the piano and it wasn’t even on a damn piano, but an electronic keyboard.

It was at high school.

For an assignment, we were told to get into bands and practice a popular song. Due to my prowess with a piano, I was snatched up by two groups. One of which was a true “students in high school trying their best” experience and the other was a much more talented rock group that had big ambitions in music.

The rock group was an experience I had never felt before. They could somehow read each other’s minds, dip in and out of each other’s solos and could make playing a song an absolutely fun, technical and adrenaline-soaked experience. They were just so professional and in sync with each other, that I was really looking forwards to debuting their work in front of the school.

What was fascinating about our classroom, was that the entire front side of the door could be opened up and the entire school could arrive at lunchtime to listen to us play, thus giving us a live audience.

I forget what song we played, but it was here, that my music teacher gave me something completely new.

He gave me my first ever taste of jazz.

Showing me a jazz scale, he showcased how you could play that scale in any order and it would sound brilliant.

I became obsessed. Finally … a chance to experiment and be free of the rigid confines of someone else’ genius. Here I was in control of the sound, of the music and the order, speed and feeling of the tune.

Mozart couldn’t dictate the tune. Beethoven couldn’t tell me to be pianissimo here or forte there. Hayden couldn’t show me how to stretch my fingers. Bach couldn’t bore me with his endless Baroque scales’ variants. Chopin had zero input in what feeling I should be having whilst playing his song and Debussy especially could not tell me how many times I had to mess up his song and try again.

At last, freedom. I was unhinged. Freed from a cage.

I still love jazz to this day, because of the freedom it provides for improvisation and player’s skill.

In the concert, I managed to feel an incredible rush as I blurred 2 jazz scales together and kept my solo going for a solid minute and a half, before coming off that high and settling back into the song with a nod from the bass guitarist.

That experience I had, was the one time where I considered a music career.

I also knew that I wanted to be a part of a band, not a solo act.

That fact alone is what stopped me from pursuing a proper musical career. I didn’t know anyone else who loved jazz like I did, much less people who enjoyed less sexy instruments like trumpets, saxophones or clarinets.

Had I pursued the path of a musician, I would have specialised in jazz.

I love the idea of performing jazz in a darkly lit jazz bar in my hometown, sipping on cocktails and whiling away the night with music that I loved.

In particular, I wanted to master many different forms of jazz, from blues, to swing, to nu-jazz and really just sell my improv skills.

I have a big affinity for rock & roll, but I know that I would probably be happiest playing jazz.

Talking about it now, does make me want to pick up the piano again. Perhaps when the desire becomes a need, I’ll probably seek out a jazz teacher to get up to speed, so that I can practice on my own, at my own pace.

I’m at that age now, where my body can keep pace with my desire to learn things in a mature, rewarding way. I’m no longer really content whiling away hours on a video game, when I could be learning new skills to impress … mostly myself.

I like doing things, because I can do something.

I don’t regret quitting my piano training early, nor do I really obsess over the idea of becoming a musical performer.

But I do like the idea of being able to play for myself. That is what was missing in all my younger years of piano playing … actual enjoyment behind the skill. Perhaps if the system wasn’t so rote, and dull, I might have a bigger musical career.

Nowadays, I mostly collect music. Nothing fancy like records, or CDs, but endless hoarding of mp3 files found for free on the internet. My Itunes library is staggeringly large, with over 132 days worth of songs, and the library only grows larger every day due to the constant downloads of soundtracks.

I may not have even seen the movie, and yet if it intrigues me, I’ll download it.

Due to my childhood restrictions, I truly enjoy all forms of music, from Christian Heavy Metal to Synth-Pop. There hasn’t ever really been a genre of music, where I haven’t derived some type of pleasure from it.

Do I occasionally dream of performing before a crowd?

Of course.

I think I have that dramatic nature in me, whether it’s amateur acting or impromptu musical acts. I like being before a crowd and seeing how they react to my siren call. I’ve never feared the crowd or gotten stage fright.

In a lot of ways, despite my quiet nature, I do crave the spotlight often and that desire only intensifies when I know I am good at something.

Music was something I was good at. I perhaps had a bit of natural talent for it, despite my own audio disabilities.

It would be a shame, if I never reached back and at least learnt to harness it for myself.

But we all have callings that we ignore, because they were never really suited for us. In a lot of ways, I think when we were designed as people, there is always an extra talent in us, that likes to be dormant.

No-one out there is talentless. We all have some myriad of skills in one way or another. Some hands are made to heal blood, whilst others are designed to strike through bone.

Mine were perhaps made to float across keys … but instead I dedicated them to a different type of key movement. The one you read now, as I write, write and write some more.

Typing is what they’re most suited for now.

Wasteful isn’t it?

To that I say … Astra inclinant, sed non obligant.

The stars incline us, they do not bind us.

~ Damocles.

The Hourglass Sand is Slipping Through ….

Max Payne 3 (2012)

He was trying to buy more sand for his hourglass. I wasn’t selling any.

Recently, it’s been difficult to sleep. I’ve always had atrocious sleeping patterns, but they were usually resolved by staying busy. I had a theory, and a successful method that the more I worked my body in a day, the easier it was to sleep.

I could avoid my usual nightmares and just slip straight into Non-REM.

I don’t like dreaming any more than I do wasting time in a revolving door. Both don’t really serve a particular function to me, and I would rather be conscious, creating actively, than filming something imaginary in my sleep.

The fact that they are always fleeting memories, irritate me to no end, and I can’t help but think that the residue of feeling left behind by a dream is more frustrating than anything meaningful.

I will say though, that the longer I stay up, the more troubled I am, the more internal conflict I seem to generate.

That is my conduit into writing well. The closer night is edged away by sunlight, the faster and more sharply I write. I’ve always considered the hours between 2am to 4am the best time for me to genuinely feel inspired to craft long personal soliloquies about my struggles.

The night is silent, my thoughts are loud, and there is only the sensation of typing to accompany both.

Beyond recent lockdowns affecting my mental health and moods, I’ve noticed that I’m a lot quieter and louder at the same time. I don’t seem to have the same grip on myself as I normally do.

I’m reticent in the sense that I don’t talk as much, yet vociferous at the same time, because when I do, all I hear is rubbish spewing out of my mouth.

Somehow I’ve reach a level where my mind is simultaneously silent inside, devoid of interesting thoughts, yet brash because it prattles on too much, about nothing.

Much Ado About Nothing is very much the name of the game for my own development nowadays.

2 years of lockdowns have worn me, as a person, down to such a boring state of mind. I find myself letting go of things, giving up easier and struggling to find motivation to do simple tasks like exercising or eating.

Hell, there was a moment where for an entire hour, I sat on my bed deliberating whether I could actually taste food properly. Everything seemed to taste flat and I was puzzled by the lack of flavour in my palette.

It was then, I realised that I had sunk into such a funk, fallen from such a height, that my body was now reflecting how I felt mentally.

I’m not a person that can be cooped up inside for very long. I’ve realised that about myself a long time ago, when I strived to achieve a better work-life balance. It is only ever self-destructive for a person of my attitude and fortitude.

I need to be active, treat every day like I am about to collapse from exhaustion. Ensure that every 24 hours is spent maximising myself to the limits. Whether it is reading a chapter of a book, working hard for 8 hours, writing difficult prose, slamming a racquet against a ball towards a wall, pounding my feet on the pavement with a plate carrier … I need to be doing multiple things a day and kept busy every waking moment.

Before the lockdowns, that was my routine. I did all of those things in a day. I was determined to make the most of my life. I felt alive knowing that I was pushing my own personal limits and that my routine was contributing to a greater goal of mine.

But this latest lockdown has caused a strange deterioration inside of me. I can see myself becoming more nihilistic, a bit more despondent, troubled by strange things and unsure of what to say to people. My mind, once empty and reactive, is now full and insecure.

I can sense my mind overthinking too much nowadays, a definitive weakness that I never had to deal with before.

Overthinking leads to insecurities, and an increase in my insomnia. It makes me less charismatic.

I’m scoffing to myself now. It’s funny how when I write these things, I discover more about myself. I’ve always known that I express myself best through words than any other means. Writing will forever be my therapeutic self-discovery tool of choice.

Less charismatic.

That is the perfect way to describe how I feel about myself nowadays. Whereupon once I could easily draw upon my bountiful self-esteem and ego, both metaphorical wells have been depleted by my lack of engagement in life.

I’m frustrated that so much of my life is out of my control. I take my use of time so seriously, that to lose 2 years of my life to some disease beyond my supremacy is difficult to console in my mind.

2 years of potential growth, progress and dreams, vanquished by some disease.

Even now, I am furious about that loss. But that anger does not mean that I should give up on everything else. Just because I lost a lot of time, does not equate to me giving in to nihilism, which is exactly what has been happening to me for the past 2 weeks.

I need to pull myself together again. I need to take charge of myself and recuperate, recharge and re-energize.

There is no pleasure in pity.

I’ve been pitiful and allowed the sands of my hourglass to slip through my hands for long enough now.

It is time that I’ve flipped the damn thing and let time reset itself again.

I need to look after myself more and start getting busy. All this mulling about, napping unnecessarily and eating extravagantly has to stop.

I’ve always considered my ability to analyse myself, become aware of my self-destructive nature and put a stop to it all, one of my greatest strengths.

I will never let myself stray too far from my own lofty goals with such savage self-analysis.

Because at the end of the day, there is no one to look after me, but my id, ego and superego.

I can’t be charismatic if I feel like crap.

I can’t be fit if I continue to balloon up.

I can’t be deadly if I don’t get serious.

The way I see it there’s two types of people, those who spend their lives trying to build a future and those who spend their lives trying to rebuild the past – Max Payne 3 (2012).

And I’m done trying to rebuild a past where I’m some loser.

Pandemic or no pandemic, this isn’t the time for me to lose the plot

This was actually the time for me to cup the sands of time and wrestle back my damn destiny and luck.

Luck is never luck, if you are in control of your life.

It just becomes fortune.

~ Damocles

Ford V Ferrari (2019) – Cinema Review

Y/N? Yes.

Director: James Mangold.

Stars: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe, Josh Lucas & Tracy Letts.

Review by Damocles.

A movie that finally captures what racing is all about.

As a fanatic gearhead and a fan of James Mangold’s work, I have only heard positive things from both the car and film community.

So my expectations were high going in.

It is safe to say that this might be my favourite car movie of all time.

The racing, the story and all the elements of the film coalesced perfectly together in harmony.

There is an old-school vibe to the film, in particular with how little CGI there is and the simplicity of the story.

The footage captured has a particular focus to detail that rewards re-watches. The sound design in particular is excellent, really emphasizing every shift, and roar of these beautiful machines that continue to inspire petrol-heads everywhere.

But it is the masculinity that runs through this film that really sold me. James Mangold is one of those directors who seem to know how to inject the right amount of masculinity into all of his films. The characters that he brings to life in all of his films are always nuanced, flawed yet brilliantly realised.

In a film about motor-racing, it is hard to deny that this is a very male film. After all, it is said that petrol runs in every man’s blood. There is something about the combination of smell, touch, machinery, and untapped potential in any man’s car that lights you up from the inside when you steer or put the pedal down.

Even the most evasive non-motoring man cannot deny the thrill one gets, when you put the pedal down.

This film captures that adrenaline rush perfectly, as well as the strange floating sensation when you soar above “7000rpm.” It is a feeling that can only be described as man and machine, fused as one.

I wanted to highlight this element, because Mangold has made a career out of depicting male characters on screen, from his earliest hits like 3:10 to Yuma (2007) to his latest critical hit Logan (2017). In so many of his films, he explores the meaning of what it means to be a man, and the many different battles a man need to tackle in his life.

In Ford v Ferrari, the story isn’t as focused on the actual battle between the two motoring giants waging war on the racetrack of the 24hrs Le Mans.

The story is more keenly focused on the relationship between Caroll Shelby and Ken Miles, and their battle against corporate interference and each other. Their fun dynamic is what truly sells the film, and much like the relationship depicted between Charles Xavier and Logan, it is the heart of the film. The emotional scenes are gripping, because you are invested in the characters and their struggles within and outside of themselves.

This emotional resonance then carries over to the racing, and only serves to heighten the win and the exhilaration as you feel that to these men, racing isn’t just a matter of turning a wheel, it is truly about pushing yourself to the absolute limit and triumphing beyond those very limits.

While there is plenty of depth to the story, (corporate America, family sacrifices, a new era of American motoring, etc) the simplicity of it all boils down to the underdogs beating the odds, is what makes the film so much fun to watch.

That the film is an original IP, and is shot in a way that utilises natural lighting, and real cars speeding across roads only serves to enhance the viewing experience. In a world where there is clearly too much superhero and computer graphic imagery, watching Ford v Ferrari is like a breath of fresh air.

There isn’t a world at stake here. There isn’t some moustache-twirling villain who summons a blue sky beam. There aren’t scenes where the actors aren’t sure how to behave before a man in a green suit with a tennis ball above his head.

James Mangold took the time to run the actual cars at break-neck speed just so that his actors and extras can follow the cars and experience the thrill, whilst replicating period-accurate clothing, hair-styles and sensibilities.

There is a scene I remember, where you see all these iconic blue COBRA shirts worn by the pit crew bumping into each other, just to get a closer look at the cars, racing across the finish straight and you can clearly see that those are real cars being driven across the track, just to get that shot right.

You won’t see that anywhere in a large-scale Marvel or DC film. The cars would be CG’ed in, the actors would have dots on their bodies and there would be a sense of disbelief in what you are seeing.

It is those small details and efforts that make the film such a fun experience and really sells you the racing.

I would also like to compliment the maverick attitude that both Damon and Bale encapsulate about racers. Their performances perfectly match the outlooks that all racers possess regardless of which era they are born in. The competitiveness, the obsession with chasing perfect laps, the courage to push limits beyond safety … these are all traits that all racers are born with, no matter what car they race.

I’ve mentioned the period-accurate clothing, and would like to give praise to the costume designers for ensuring that every man at the race track is equipped with the coolest sunglasses available. Racers, Engineers, Team Principals … it is a necessity to possess a pair of sunglasses whilst racing. Something of an unspoken rule.

Moving onto the more technical elements of the film, I was struck by the continual collaboration between James Mangold and his cinematographer Phedon Papamichael with their use of natural lighting and seamless blending of thrilling moments in-race. There is 60-40 balance of Bale’s performance behind the wheel, as there is on-track action and for a race-car film, that is the perfect mix.

After all, if I wanted to see racing, I would go watch my precious Formula 1 or World RX.

This is, first and foremost, a film, where character is the key component why I am watching. I am also here to see shots of the cars that would not be possible in normal racing live coverage. To my immense satisfaction, the stunts and the shots are all beautifully non CG’ed and there are so many moments in the film that had me smiling as I could see where Papamichael could convey speed and emotion in one frame perfectly, whilst highlighting the beauty of the scenery and machine.

The cinematography never arrests you in the film and tries to convey some epic vista. Instead it seamlessly blends into the story, with emotional moments being enhanced by the excellent visuals, such as Ken Miles’ talk with his son about the perfect lap. It creates a seamless viewing experience that doesn’t outshine the rest of the film.

Equally understated but coming in strong at key moments was the score by Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders. Beltrami is another long-time collaborator for James Mangold, with Ford v Ferrari marking their 4th time working together. It is the theme song, Le Mans 66 that really sells the beauty, drama and thrill of racing. I really appreciate having a theme song that is purely about the sensation of racing, instead of the “cool” elements of racing as seen in other car franchises like Fast & Furious.

Beltrami’s work throughout the film is consistently soulful and quiet, coming in strong when it needs to, before taking a softer note to the roar of an engine. Again, this is precisely what petrolheads like myself love and Mangold’s direction must be credited for the sound design of this film.

Ford v Ferrari is a film that struck me as fun at first, but upon re-viewings, I’ve come to appreciate more just how rare it is to get a film like this. This is a film, that isn’t trying to be a franchise, depicting real characters, a real race, real cars, real drama and is all based upon strong acting performances and the idea that you want to root for the underdog.

This is so rare in today’s world of Hollywood productions. In a lot of ways, Ford v Ferrari is definitive of the story it represents … a maverick, trying to beat an increasingly corporate approach to a creative industry.

So even for non gearheads, this is a film that you can enjoy.

I hope there are more films like these in the works. Less CGI, more real characters and real props please. I think the world needs more films like these than the cookie-cutter stuff that has saturated the market so much recently.

On a side-note, I may be a diehard tifosi but even in this race, I was cheering for Ford to win over my beloved Scuderia.

Because at the end of the day, no matter what team you go for, you just want to see a damn good race and for a good race to happen, it got to be close.

And Ford V Ferrari delivered exactly that.

A good race.

A scene to recall: Whenever Mangold allows the actors to deliver their lines in natural light. Whenever the cars get those glory shots through a corner. Whenever the LeMans race heats up. Whenever …. the movie is good … you get the idea. It’s a racer’s wet dream.

Post Holiday Continuum

Casino Royale (2006) – James Bond stepping into the Bahamas with style.

Time hasn’t stopped for you in your home town, yet you feel indelibly foreign to what should be comforting surroundings.

I’ve always considered myself somewhat immune to a lot of holiday side-effects. Jet-lag, homesickness, holiday nostalgia … it’s a soldier’s mentality that I tend to adopt, as with a lot of other things in my life. Just move on and enjoy the moment is what I think to myself. Jet-lag can be defeated with enough Red Bull and the eagerness to explore. Homesickness is for the melancholic and the sentimental. Nothing is ever rose-tinted, nor is it an ugly black. Most holidays I’ve experienced had the shit come with the good and that’s perfectly natural.

What I am discussing though is the flow of time, when you first come back from a holiday.

I’ve recently had this experience when I left my hometown of Melbourne, for the sunnier climes of the Gold Coast for 5 days. In my absence the weather changed drastically, the city entered another lockdown and my family struggled to heal after the events that had transpired against them.

I was up there to visit my girlfriend, having missed her presence keenly and eager to leave a lot of the stress behind. The holiday ended up being the perfect tonic to mend parts of me that were broken and to really regroup and rally my own energy.

The weather was perfect, never too hot nor too cold. The food was excellent. The luxury of the hotel was unmatched and the ability to just reach out and touch my girlfriend is something I don’t take for granted any more.

Which is why upon arriving back, I was struck by how alien everything felt.

The weather was ridiculously cold and wet. The car I was picked up in, felt stuffy and foreign. Seeing my father almost back to his normal self was puzzling. My bed felt strange when I first slept in it, after being absent from it for 5 days.

It is a strange ego exercise that everyone has to do when they return home. Readjusting to the idea that time did not freeze the moment you went on your holiday.

For a few days after, I felt like I was in a surreal state of mind. I was trying to get back into my old habits again but things weren’t clicking as well.

Play tennis, enjoy football (soccer), check social media on my PC, learn to play games again, adjust to having a plethora of clothes, taste more mundane food …

All my normal decisions, my actions that I would have done without a second thought before my holiday, I was now questioning why I did them.

Perhaps the most surrealist experience was driving my car again. I felt like I had lost a certain joy behind the wheel because for much of my entire trip, and the week prior, I did not drive my car very much. Sidling into my driver seat and actually driving again, I felt like something was off. I didn’t know how to describe it.

But the mental state was not there to drive, nor was the usual passion for the act.

Then it dawned on me, why this whole situation felt so strange. I had gone from the heights of luxury to the depths of mediocrity. Laziness was no longer a fun leisurely option. I had to work again.

Driving is an act of work, in comparison to the laziness of tram rides. Going to bed felt like a chore again, instead of a pleasure. Slipping on the work uniform stifled me versus the freedom I felt with jandals (NZ slang for flip-flops) and a pair of sunnies.

Not being able to laugh, hug and kiss my girlfriend was a stark contrast to the quiet, empty loneliness I felt back home.

I call this surrealist state of mind, the post holiday continuum because it disrupts your personal continuum, of space and time.

For a decent interval, you’ve managed to escape the hum-drum of ordinary life and enter a state of true freedom.

Holidays are so addicting because you get attached to that freedom.

Free from monetary constraints. Free from work stress. Free from daily sacrifices. Free from oppressive atmospheres. Free from everything that life has managed to pin onto your shoulders.

Imagine that … finally being able to throw off all the weight on your shoulders and literally have the options to consider choices you normally wouldn’t.

Should I just lie in bed for another hour today?

Should I go down and get the breakfast buffet or just order room service?

I feel like having a massage, should I book one now or tomorrow?

I could use an ice-cream right now …. let’s go out and find one.

Make that 2 scoops instead of one.

Should I buy this? Oh hell, why not.

Holidays are special because you carved out a literal time and space for you to be free of any expectations, environment or existentialism. They truly allow you to be in control of choices that are normally made for you. They grant you the ability to be lazy without guilt or pressure.

For once, you are truly in control of who you want to be.

Hence, when you create such a time and space for yourself where everything is so different mentally, the trip back to “normal” is going to be bizarre. I managed to convince myself that in 5 days, I could live like that forever. It was fun pretending to be wealthy and carefree.

In many ways, that Gold Coast trip was one of the first holidays that felt like an actual vacation and for once I felt bereft leaving the sunny climes behind for dreary Melbourne.

It takes days for people to come back mentally after a holiday. You find yourself resisting habits, questioning routines and eager to experience freedom once more.

That is what is so surreal about it all. The familiar turned unfamiliar. The normal unrecognisable as the norm. You feel like a stranger living another person’s life. Like you are unable to merge the two experiences you’ve just had.

You are presently unpacking everything in your room, yet literally hours in the past you were relaxing at a beach, sipping on a mojito. The dissolution of your holiday continuum is a hard one to accept sometimes. That is what lends the home a surreal atmosphere.

There is almost a robotic sensation to how your life pans out after a holiday. Like your body is on autopilot, whilst your mind refuses to let go of the strong holiday memories. After all, for days after, this sensation is only reinforced as people question you about your holiday. You reminisce on that fleeting moment in time and space where you were free, and indulge in it as people ask you more questions about your trip.

Strange isn’t it? How perhaps once before, you wanted to be left alone, but now every question about your holiday brings a smile and a touching memory. But as time continues, those memories start to fade slightly, until one day you find your reminiscing cut-off by a strange question: did that really happen?

That is what makes the post-holiday continuum so interesting, because of how surreal everything becomes with hindsight, time and juxtaposition. You find yourself so embroiled in your own daily life, that now it is the holiday that seems surreal and bizarre. Like how one earth did you manage to save up so much money to earn such freedom?

My own experience was only made doubly difficult by the nature of long-distance relationships. I left behind my girlfriend, and that act is strange in of itself. Emotionally, I wasn’t ready to leave and that explains why I am currently exploring that feeling of abandonment and adjustment in a post holiday context.

There is a cyclical nature to holidays, I’ve realised now.

Sampling that freedom, makes you crave it more.

So you go back into the grind, putting aside money, time, wealth, just so that you can taste that privilege again.

This post-holiday continuum is something that, I suspect, never really fades away.

It is what drives people to abandon all financial caution and chase that dream of living like a holiday forever.

It makes people want to travel, to explore, to journey out into the unknown, because they want to be free of societal chains.

As much as I empathise with that, I can’t truly embrace it. Holidays are meant to feel earnt. They need to be deserved and with such high personal standards, I need to be in drastic situations before I feel like I deserve a holiday.

The sad fact of the matter is, after 2 days of suffering from that post-holiday continuum any desire to go back to a holiday faded away quickly.

I am still too eager to find work in a job I can embrace wholeheartedly. Perhaps once I’ve found that, carved my own niche, will the call of a holiday tempt me once more.

But right now, it isn’t for me.

Still, if you ever feel like there is something surreal about coming home, after a relaxing holiday, now you got a term for it.

~ Damocles.

Are You Too Old To Die Young?

Too Old to Die Young (2019) – a series directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. If you love red and blues … this is it for you.

Ever since I was young, upon reading the first Alex Rider book: Stormbreaker, there has been a quote in it, that I think about often … You’re Never Too Young to Die.

As I approach my 30s, I don’t see myself as young any more, than I do consider myself old.

Isn’t it strange that the moment you hit a certain age, the term “young man” or “youth” fits you as well as water in your lungs?

What determines whether you are young any more?

Is it your age? Your experience? Your attitude? The way how older people treat you? Is it a generational thing?

Whatever it is, I know that I haven’t felt “young” since I decided to be a man at the age of 17. I didn’t understand the appeal of people wanting to be young forever. For me, life has always had its greatest appeal in your 30s.

30s is the peak of your physical age, mental state and confidence.

I couldn’t wait to be in my 30s. I wanted to own the self-made man image of Don Draper. I craved the arrogant coldness of James Bond. The cocky swagger of Dirk Pitt. The devastating wit of Oscar Wilde. The deductive genius of Sherlock Holmes.

All these desirable traits … stemming from men in their 30s. I couldn’t understand my compatriots. Nor, admittedly, did I want to. While they wanted to chase girls, I was keen to wine and dine confident women. While they fumbled for ID at entries into Casino, I could get away with a serious scowl and a nod at the bouncer.

So now, as I approach my own summit of the 30s, I’ve realised that I was metaphysically 30 a long time ago.

I chased and craved and cajoled for those enviable characteristics for so long, since I was 17 that I subconsciously made them my own. I’ve been 30 for a long time. There is no other way to describe my own arrogant confidence and plentiful self-esteem. Whilst my peers feared the idea of a job, a house, a car and stability, I was desperate to earn those the hard way, my way.

I wanted to be a man. I wanted to enter a room, confident and assured.

I truly faked it until I made it my own.

Which is why it rankles when people view me as a young man.

A boy.

Like they have difficulty in seeing the child they once saw quietly playing in the corner, blossom into the taller man who stared them down intently, unafraid of their wrath and unwillingly to give them any respect lest they earned it through his ire.

If I had to define age, it would most likely boil down to a combination of attitude and experience. How your life’s experiences have shaped your attitude towards the world is the perfect way to determine your age.

If you’ve had a sheltered life, and you view people as friends and the world as a joyful place, chances are … you’re a bit too naive and that is the biggest indication of youth.

If you’ve had a rougher upbringing, viewing people as foes or tools and you categorically label the world as “indifferent” … odds are you’ve a lot older than you appear to be.

Cynicism isn’t perfectly related to old, but it’s linked.

And I’ve been cynical for a very long time. It made the world an easier concept to understand … if I saw everyone as devils, then it was a lot simpler to accept people’s failings.

The old adage of “keeping expectations low, so reality meets bare minimum” has kept me from riding roller-coasters of emotions.

All these things I’ve discovered by the age of 22. I’ve lived the last 6 years slowly being a bit more optimistic, but realistic. I’ve matured beyond that nihilistic, cynical and depressive way of thinking.

Which is why I consider myself at 28, too old to die young.

I could be struck down tomorrow and I would think to myself that I got enough to die without regrets. I can face death on my own terms not its’.

To die young is to experience the world that has not changed you in a single meaningful way. That is tragic. There is no justice in that. To be taken away before you truly grown up, is a tragedy. What person could they have been?

But to be struck down at an age where you know what consequences there are for your actions and you live despite them … then you are old.

Old enough to know better.

Old enough to make your own choices.

Old enough to live with your mistakes and learn from them.

For the longest time, I’ve always known that I’m old. Even my peers see me that way. There is an old-fashioned mindset about the way how I approach things.

You need not look further than this blog. Who keeps a blog nowadays? Who write their thoughts and feelings out for people to read like some Anne Frank Diary?

Why isn’t Damocles adapting to the times and creating a vlog? Starting some lame podcast? At the very least he should consider making an audiobook.

The answer is, I’m a bit of a romantic. It comes from reading too many damn books that fill my head with idealistic nonsense. I am writing a blog, because one of my favourite edgiest teenage superhero from a YA novel made one and it got thousand of followers. Ever since then, I have stuck to my guns and kept writing in an online journal of some sort.

I would also like to point out that if you have ever been obstinately stubborn about something, simply because you disagree with it … that makes you old.

A young person is rarely ever stubborn. They are far too malleable and easily manipulated. Only old people get intractable and drive up their stress levels simply because it is some bizarre sadomasochistic kink.

Young = Impressionable, Insecure & Insouciant.

Old = Stubborn, Self-Righteous & Steady.

So what made me think about all this? I hear you ask.

The recent family troubles naturally. I felt strange that people lumped me in the “young” category, simply because I am of a generation younger than them. Yet my actions, my attitude and my insight proved far more intelligent and rational than their childish squabbling and inaction.

They labelled me hot-headed, emotional and rebellious. I saw nothing of the sort in my actions. Every action has been measured, calculated and stubbornly recalcitrant. Everything I’ve done, is not something a young person would do.

Hence I find it insulting that the older generation continue to treat me as a “young” person, an annoying fly that needs to be swatted away.

I punished such arrogance accordingly. Age has nothing to do with being young, and I made sure that the older generation saw me as something more than some symbolic figurehead for youth. I became an adult just like them, demanded their respect accordingly and suddenly, they realised that my respect had to be earned, not just given due to age.

I have always scorned the Asiatic attitude when it came to respect. I see no reason to be polite, respectful or subservient to anyone who have lived beyond 40. My outlook has always been to be a mirror to what I am receiving.

Be an arsehole to me and you best believe I’m going to be an even bigger arsehole to you.

Work hard and invest in me and I’ll give you my all.

That to me, has always been the appeal behind adulthood. The playing field is level and it doesn’t matter what background, experience or age you are.

Be a good person and receive goodness. Be an dick and suffer the consequences.

Fair. Just. Equilibrium.

I truly am too old to die young and for a long time, this guiding statement has stuck with me ever since reading it in a book.

You are never too young to die, but you can be too old to die young, because you’ve matured beyond youth.

That is a good thing.

It means that you’ve haven’t wasted your life.

Embracing the feeling that you are too old to die young. It means that you’ve living life right and you’ve got nothing to fear.

You’ve beaten death in a way by becoming too old.

Isn’t that refreshing?

~ Damocles