Cinis ad cinerem, pulvis in pulverem.

One day, and he accepted the fact, he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck. When that happened, he knew that, he too, would be branded with the deadly question-mark he recognised so often in others, the promise to pay before you have lost: the acceptance of fallibility. Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (1953)

After being delivered a significant setback to a rather distressing legal case, I’m sitting alone in my room, Italian hard candy by my side, a ice-cold glass of water slowly condensing, and an unlit herbal cigarette in my mouth.

The only sounds you can hear are my hands religiously shuffling cards, the echoes of Fleming’s words causing my brown eyes to squint in concentration as I riffle through them. There is an angry set to my jaw, a muscle rippling along my cheek as I focus my energy and senses.

The very first game is of tantamount importance. It will provide me evidence, reassurance and a semblance of hope.

Four cards are laid out on the table.

The first two are mine, the second pair … the dealer’s.

I can already sense it, before I even pick it up.

It’s a natural 21.

I don’t even hesitate to flip it over ….

Upon seeing the pair of clubs, I allow myself a cruel smile.

I haven’t been bought to my knees yet.

Some things have remained undamaged despite what the world was telling me.

In some ways, I suppose I’ve always been a secret gambler at heart.

I’ve never placed a single genuine bet in a casino before, out of fear of addiction, but there is no denying that I love the call of playing cards and how genuinely exciting playing them can be.

It is a strange experience, at once, very sensual and sensory and cold and clinical. You need to be in touch with your inner thoughts, desires and will, manifesting and imposing your luck into reality, whilst understanding that logically such an occurrence is rare and that you need be aware of the odds.

Luck isn’t a deity that belongs to you. She is flippant, whimsical and elusive.

To catch her, you need all your strength.

I’m beginning to understand how I’ve been approaching my relationship to Lady Luck wrong this year. I’ve been far too worshipful. Far too reliant and slavish.

I need to seize control of this relationship once more. The power dynamic has been far too skewed in her favour, which has made me far less attractive and insipid, causing her to be bored with me.

Lady Luck isn’t a deity you pander to or pursue … you simply accept when she comes into your life and take full advantage of that momentary kismet.

Otherwise, you go back to playing the odds. You need to be clever, clinical and calculated in your daily life. If Luck truly favours you, she will visit you more often than others. But that is not a sign of favouritism. She is and will forever be out of your reach.

I have been slack with my off time, relying far too often on the frequency of Luck’s visits instead of playing the game the way how people are meant to.

It was this realisation that made me win that all important Blackjack hand above. Because I had finally taken ownership of my luck again. I wasn’t relying on a deity any more. It was time for me to create my own luck and then be grateful when Lady Luck steps in and boost it.

This kick to the kerb has been just one of the many that has assaulted me this month, let alone year. If 2022 is plagued with misfortune like I said previously, then let it come. This is just another problem that I have to face with meticulous planning, quick thinking and rapid deployment of grit, determination and will.

And it will be resolved, just like every other damnable problem this year.

If 2022 is truly as horrific as they come, then in the next 3 months I am going to be kicked to the floor again.

So I might as well get used to picking myself up from off the floor because I have ended up down here so many times.

Only this time, whenever I dust myself off, I shall be squarely reviewing my every actions that lead up to the moment and not blaming a mythical deity for my own poor judgement and planning.

After all, there is really no one else to blame except me when it comes to losing.

Fail to prepare … prepare to fail.

Today’s harsh reminder was just another brutal wake-up call about how I’ve gotten complacent in a lot of things. Too much time listening to others, instead of acknowledging my own feelings, needs and desires.

And truly not enough writing.

It’s one of those pitfalls when you literally don’t do enough self-reflection … lessons aren’t learned, self-esteem starts to plummet and you end up not knowing how you are lost, which is important, because knowing how you got to this strange location is the key to leaving it.

We all look in the past for answers to the present. It’s a classic story trope, where characters research clues hidden long ago, to solve modern mysteries.

Self reflection, and in my case, written self-reflection helps me find those clues so that I can resolve my current dramas.

In this case, I’m re-discovering what made my relationship with Lady Luck and I work. I never answered to her … she answered to me when it was convenient for her.

There is a cruelty to our relationship that makes it healthy and beneficial for both of us.

But when she is not by my side, which is far more often than I think, I need to be my own person. I need to be more than my beautiful lucky crutch.

It is said that you need 825,000 pounds per square inch to form a diamond.

Heat, pressure and carbon …. nowhere in that equation is luck.

I can’t be a polished carbon life-form if I am too reliant on luck being in the equation.

It’s time to reignite the passion I used to have for life again. I want to own once more, that same cold, confident and ruthless drive that has propelled me to most of my successes. I need to unlock that potential in me that I know has always been bubbling away there.

As I am writing this though, sometimes, even I can’t quite fathom how fickle my mind can be.

I mean, reading this, you are supposed to believe that one lucky hand in blackjack, is now responsible for the complete return to form of Damocles. That all he needed to get his drive, determination and dedication back was one good hand.

I suppose when you’ve been kicked to the kerb as many time as I have recently, the smallest reversal in fortune is enough for you to keep playing the game, to try your hand again the rest of the table.

The greatest lesson I seem to learn from all of this, is that I truly can be professional, despite feeling like utter shit. There is no denying that there have been incredibly low moments at work, but I’ve had the strength and mental capacity to block out the negativity and sadness and keep on doing my job with a smile.

Composure … it’s something I’m proud to have.

Even when everything around me is falling apart, I’ll always retain my fierce spirit and never compromise on what I think are important.

Even when handed devastating news, that set everything back by a month and will cause me to get into more of a legal quagmire … I’m remaining steadfast. All my mental training in the years prior …. all my techniques … they’re all best tested and standing up to the test.

I’m not smoking, drinking, falling for loose women or engaging in other forms of self-destructive behaviour.

As the Brits are apt to do when everything goes to shit … make a cup of tea, understate the situation and remain calm.

I like to think that I have the same steadfastness.

And I’m oddly proud of myself for that.

A rare moment indeed, because I’m often far too critical of myself.

So for once, I’m going to say that I am proud that I haven’t broken down, despite all the misery that has befallen me.

As I write that though, just when my pride is hitting the apex of its strut, another curious line from Casino Royale enters my mind.

‘Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles.’ He laughed. ‘But don’t let me down and become human yourself. We would lose such a wonderful machine.’

I can’t help but smile cruelly at that. The sheer emotional gambit I have run so far would have crippled most people. I suppose I really am a machine at times.

No point in stopping now to be more human.

~ Damocles.


2022 has been characterised by misfortune.

Most of which is self-inflicted.

When I look at my brown eyes in the mirror, there is an intensity there that is softened by all the shittiness that has happened this year. My spirit is still strong, defiant … but it’s also tired and bruised from what I’ve put it through.

A key part of my balancing act in life, is to keep my natural arrogance in check through various mental exercises. The most important of which, is self-reflection and ensuring that I own up to any measure of blame.

This self-flagellation often means that I beat myself up regularly over mistakes that I know I could have avoided or done better.

It also comes in strongly whenever there are huge existential crises in my life. Whenever I look at a relationship, I know that there are always two sides to the story, two reasons why there is a fight and two ways of communicating.

It is up to me to take ownership of my side of the story, my reason why I chose to fight and why I chose to communicate my feelings that way.

A fight erupt over something as trivial as different cereals, but I have to own up to my reasons. The blame could be attributed to my friend by 70%, 90% or even 99% …. but the point is, I need to acknowledge my 30%, 10% or 1%.

Because without doing that, I will never learn how to communicate better with the other person and be a better person myself.

The only problem with that so far though … is that 2022 has had far too many crises for me to realistically handle all the self-blame.

Lady Luck has always been my patron Goddess. As strange that sounds, I actually do hold onto some old-school religious ideas, like the concept of a Pantheon of Gods instead of a singular one. I can’t quite seem to let go of that spiritual connection.

And within that Pantheon, there is always one that holds a special place in your heart.

Mine is named Lady Luck.

The other three I “worship” are: Melbourne, Eris the Goddess of Discord and Athena the Goddess of Wisdom and War.

To touch on all three briefly …


I like to believe that every city has a soul, a spirit. The more you connect with this spirit, the more the city will unveil itself to you and be an exciting place to visit every time. Melbourne has always had this classical femme fatale visage in my mind. She’s elegant, always ahead of trends, is curvaceous and mysterious. She hides all her best secrets down laneways and it is up to you, to hear her siren calls and discover the best she has to offer.

I normally speak to Melbourne when I want her tempestuous weather moods to change and stabilise.

Eris, the Goddess of Discord

My adoration for Eris only goes so far. This is a relationship of neglect. Often there is not enough trouble for me to truly be switched on all the time and not be bored by my usual life. Which is why I often have to come to her and beg for something drastic to happen.

This irrecoverably blows up in my face and I then go running to Lady Luck to fix the mess. This is a relationship created out of boredom, where I want more excitement in my life, but Eris refuses to grant it, knowing that I can’t always handle her style.

Athena, the Goddess of War and Wisdom.

My favourite out of all the Greek Gods, Athena has always struck a chord with me, how she inspires intellectualism with natural inclinations to hunt and art. Beyond her symbolism with freedom, Athena’s origin has always fascinated me.

My relationship with Athena is one of simple adoration and aspiration. She inspires me to pursue a warrior-poet lifestyle and that just because I can fight, doesn’t mean I can’t do so with intellect as well as a sword.

Finally, my favourite Goddess of all,

Lady Luck

There is a genuine relationship here, with actual words and actions being exchanged on some level. Whether it is truly the work of a Goddess bending reality to suit me, or some type of strange subliminal telekinesis and mutant ability in the form of probability-warping, I got no idea, but there is no denying that sometimes things work out for me that normally would not occur in any other shape or form.

I’ve been blessed with this relationship with her, since a very young age, ever since I’ve acknowledged her.

Like most Goddesses, Lady Luck isn’t someone that I can just call upon whenever I need her. She requires careful readings of her mood, a precise understanding of her nature and an unwavering commitment to her and her alone.

I have been unfailingly loyal to her.

However, 2022 is the year where she and I have tested the boundaries of our relationship to the extremes.

As I’ve mentioned above though, it is not Lady Luck’s story that I am focusing on. I have to aim the magnifying glass on myself and see what I have done wrong, to see why this year, Lady Luck, has on multiple occasions given me huge emotional whiplash.

Beyond the obvious ones, such as the Formula 1 weekend that culminated in a raid, or the even smaller instances like a board game, perhaps the biggest whiplash I’ve experienced this year is the age old debate between career and love.

It is said that you remember the bad memories better than you relive the good ones.

However for my 2022 experience, it has been both at the same time that has caused me no end of consternation.

It has created within my mind, a paranoia around the feeling of happiness. For every extremely joyous moment, I am instantly struck, hours later by some terrible misfortune.

Let’s take one of the better weekends of my life, where I spent a Sunday at a racetrack, volunteering as a Flag marshal.

Having survived a near crash, spent the entire day relatively dry, despite the monsoon like weather and experiencing nearly 8 hours of incredible wet-racing, upon immediately climbing into my car, I was assaulted with severe back muscle pain, that left me unable to move properly for 2 days.

Where this pain came from, or the cause of it, I have no real idea, but it was deliberating enough to cripple me for a full day.

Joy …. Pain. The whiplash from a mental perspective is immense.

Every single good memory I have had this year, has been made less blissful by the immediate slap in the face by Lady Luck herself.

The apex of this mountain though, has to be the self-destruction of a 6-year relationship.

Our anniversary was meant to be a celebration of our past and present but it was the beginning of the end for me.

Again, it seems twisted that on the day of our anniversary, we had one of our biggest fights and was so close to breaking it off.

To add insult to injury even more, when she finally came back months later, hoping to resolve things with me … I broke it off the day she landed.

Another joyous occasion ruined. The day she came home to me, to repair everything, was the very day I decided to break her heart.

I still can’t look at myself in the mirror when I think about that. I’m not sure I’m even capable of being forgiving myself at the moment.

The day I lost her, was the day I lost a lot more than I originally anticipated.

A part of me was put down. I did it to myself, compressing and squeezing every last bit of that tiny piece of humanity, into nothing, so that I could really go through with the break-up. The guilt, the shame, the bizarre strength it took to overcome all those emotions in the moment … I lost a crucial part of what I felt like a core part of me, my sympathy for others, my ability to empathize.

I essentially traumatised myself. It was like using a hot brand, and searing it against my skin, a part of me forever marked by what I did.

I’ve also lost my feelings for another person as well. A part of me was wondering and wandering, excited to be in the presence of something new.

But that is gone now too. I’ve realised that the other person isn’t quite right for me either. At least, not what I need or want at the moment. They’re just incapable of offering me that kind of support.

Because the sad reality of this all, is that at the end of the day, I, alone, am the only one who can resolve this mess I am in.

And in order to do that, I need to really set boundaries for myself, learn not to push unrealistic expectations onto others and really keep my emotions in check. No one can fix the mess that I’ve created for myself.

Only I can.

It sounds strange to go through so many emotions, feelings of love, regret, guilt, crushing, nervousness and anger in such a short span of a week.

I keep fighting against myself, catching myself feeling one way and brusquely putting it aside to continue work. Then I will be OK for the next few hours, then comes an errant memory, over 6 years worth, and I will go back to feeling awful again.

The cycle will then continue. I will feel terrible, then put it aside, OK and stable for a few more hours, then terrible and immediately plugging that shit away.

If someone asked me why I simultaneously killed off all feelings of love inside me, I couldn’t give them a clear reason.

At the time, it felt like the right thing to do. Even now, the logical part of me is still arguing that it was.

It, being of course, the intense desire to be alone. To live a life without a partner.

But the heart refuses to listen and instead continues to assault my brain with immense waves of guilt, pain and internal suffering. I can’t sleep properly, eat comfortably or really enjoy myself in anything.

Life has become a bit duller.

You throw atop of this, my relationship with Lady Luck, which is now filled with paranoia and suspicion. I’ve suffered too much at her hands this year to really trust her. Perhaps, I’ve been worshipping the wrong Goddess the entire time, and it turns out I was actually paying homage to Eris, who has taken the guise of Lady Luck.

Shit. Perhaps that is a theory worth exploring further soon.

To sum things up, 2022 has been a chastening year. For all the incredible opportunities that I’ve had have this year, from making new friends, exploring new elements of my personality, landing two jobs that have opened up my world to the events industry, it has been marred by incredible loss.

The loss of some of my most prized possessions, the loss of my former introverted strength, the loss of my long-term girlfriend, the loss of my feelings and most crucially, the loss of a part of my soul.

When you compare the two, my gains and losses, I’ve parted ways with a lot more than what I’ve gotten back.

Look at yourself. Look at what you’ve asked yourself to give.

Do you even know truly why you are going through all of this?

I suppose the answer doesn’t really matter. Life is full of meaningless meaning and I suppose the sooner I embrace that, that there isn’t some sadistic, comforting purpose behind this pain, the sooner I can move on.

What a fucking shit year.

~ Damocles.


I like to categorise age by the September 11 attacks.

It sounds incredibly strange, but to me, 9/11 marks a fundamental shift in how we experience our lives.

I’m at the age where the term “young man” no longer quite applies. To be perfectly frank, if you forgive this momentary ego stroke, if I had completed my enlistment many years ago, I would be a career soldier now, at the peak of my war-fighting abilities and prowess, with quite a few deployments under my belt.

As far as reality is concerned though, I am actually quite close to my peak events operational capabilities. I can almost do every single aspect of event labour, from ropes management to marquee set-ups and about 100 useful other tips and tricks to apply to any event I work at.

I am quite easily, the most experienced events operator at almost any festivities I find myself working at. Marathons, Festivals, Shows, Raves …. there’s almost no situation where I am not useful.

I suppose the point I am trying to make here, is that I am more or less at the top of my game. Which is exactly where I want to be close to the age of 30.

They say it is lonely at the top, and that is scarily accurate when you meet people who are younger than you.

It just seems so strange to me, meeting people who have never experienced the world-axis event that was 9/11.

The world before 9/11 was a much more trusting one. Entertainment was lighter, more colourful and fun. People were less paranoid, less interested in the nitty-gritty of the world and much more trusting. Growing up in the 90s, its also difficult for me to reconcile the quantum leap in technology that has happened in less than 2 decades of existence.

I remember rewinding VHS tapes, seeing pixels animate themselves on the Nintendo 64 and being fascinated with Pokemon cards during lunch breaks. Lego was cheaper, more imaginative, because as a child, I had no interest in keeping sets confined to their instructed sets … I was too busy breaking them apart to make my own things, forging epic battles between ninjas, Jedis, Siths, terrorists and dinosaur SWAT units to care.

The world seemed a bit brighter back then.

Then 9/11 happened and everything became a lot darker. The world became more paranoid, films started to become more grey, airports were now security havens and in general, instead of a positive go-getter attitude that once defined the 90s, the early 00s became more nihilistic. A sensation that has only grown exponentially with the creation of the internet.

In fact, I would argue, that the moment those Twin Towers fell, something inside humanity snapped.

Whether we liked it or not, America at the time, was considered the greatest place to live on Earth. Everyone, in some shape or form, believed in the purity of the “American Dream.” That if you worked hard enough, you would earn your success and buy that picket-fence house.

However, to see America struck so deeply and painfully, dispelled the allure of that dream. It was like the shells from our eyes had fallen away and we were no longer enamoured with the incredible mythology that surrounded America.

Instead, all we were left with was the knowledge that if the mightiest of us can fall … so can we all.

It’s why I pity every single child that has been born post 9/11. They never had an idea of a life that was a lot simpler and less complicated.

The world post 9/11 is a much more traumatised one. We no longer had an ideal to aspire to. In place of inspiration, came politics, which is simply code for division.

Films, music, art, news … everything became a lot more politicised. People scrutinised everything more. The advent of the internet meant that 24/7 news cycles became a lot more pessimistic and harsh. Soon, you weren’t just aware of the tragedies in your own country, you also had to know about the geopolitical situation in a country 12,000 kilometres away from you.

Films, once escapist and fantastical, soon started leaning into grittier, more “realistic” themes. Stories about the government betraying its own people, secretive intelligence programs and whistleblowers started to appear, sowing more distrust in the government and its agenda. Action sequences, once grand and epic, became more scaled down to realistic, tense firefights that showed the “one-man army” approach in a more tactical manner.

Music, got angrier and more heavily politicised, with angry lyrics decrying governments for their actions abroad and domestically. Art followed a similar vein.

What all of this has invariably led to, is a deconstruction of what your country is and how people identify themselves.

It’s not enough to just be an American any more. Now, you need to be an ally of a movement, a political supporter, a pronoun and an activist of some cause.

Imagine being born into this world, where all of this is the norm. You feel enormous pressure to fulfill all of these duties, or else you become a shit person. You can identify as as variant in all of these things, but because they exist only online, they also mean nothing. Everything online is an exercise in nihilism. Your identity, work, personality and careful curatorship of what you like and don’t like, is as unimportant as the next person’s persona.

In becoming all of these things, you just become another byte of data for the algorithm to manipulate and feed.

People who were born after 9/11 have no concept of a reality where none of these terrible things exist.

It really shows. They act seemingly older than their years, because they’ve exposed to a lot more horrible things than people my age were, when we were younger.

I’ve noted that children and people who were raised in a post 9/11 world tend to be diametrically different to people in my age bracket.

In the sense that, they tend to act a bit older than their years and they try a lot harder in general. They care more about certain causes, but ironically because of the internet, can only do so in the most shallow of manners. They will be the first to change their profile pictures, the first to lambast you on the internet for your views and start a hashtag trend going.

They’re also characterised by poor memories, shorter attention spans, less engagement in the long haul and more easily distracted. Throw in additional unnecessary trauma merely for existing and a perchance for overcommitting to things and poorly communicating their subsequent cock-up and you got yourself a typical post-9/11 baby.

I naturally blame the internet, but also how a post 9/11 world has shaped the internet and its’ anarchy.

Because 9/11 truly changed the way how humanity thought, fought and now lives.

It’s just strange for me, meeting people who have no context outside this reality, that to them, the 90s was an historical decade that never existed for them.

They only know this twisted, heavily politicised and strenuous time.

Deep down, I pity them all. If only they had some idea of what life might have been like, when the world was a more hopeful place, they wouldn’t be as confused as they are now.

But then, on the other side, their optimism can be boundless, because to them, a more accepting and hopeful future is coming soon.

Unlike the cynic in me, who whinges about what was lost.

Hindsight truly is a curse.

Better to be blindly hopeful and work towards that aspiration than to be unbelieving that anything good will occur in the future.

Because at the end of the day, hope for a better future is what might create change.

I suppose my role, as an older guy, is to make sure that change is actually a good one.

~ Damocles.

The Cost of Events

Blade Runner 2049

You look tired Damocles. Tired and tanned.

The way how my mother said this to me, expressed pity and sympathy for her oldest son.

I was in the middle of my skincare routine, when she said that to me. There was no malice in her voice. It was just an observation.

As I turned around and acknowledged her statement with a weary nod, I looked back at the mirror and applied my eye cream, something that was supposed to de-puff the eye bags that were starting to darken with each passing day.

Looking deep into my own pupils, I could see the pale hands of exhaustion that marked the creases and folds of my eyelids, the bloody veins that covered the brown iris, and the dark mystery of my soul.

Clenching my jaw, I watched the way how the vein flickered and disappeared along my face with the motion, before applying the final touch of moisturiser to my face.

Closing my eyes, I exhaled deeply.

My hands went to my phone and I started checking over my schedule for the week.

Tired …. fatigued … ragged … these were all good words to describe how I was feeling at the moment. However, my mental strength hadn’t abandoned me yet. There was still a fire of defiance inside of me, that burned bright and true.

It was this brazenness that made me keen to start the long day tomorrow. I had work at the Melbourne Showgrounds from 0630 till 1200. Then came my latest new job, Federation Square: Events Operations Supervisor, from 1300 to 1700.

A 10 hour day beckoned to me. Challenging me. Taunting me to conquer it with some semblance of professionalism.

I can do it, but my God is it tough to do it, when you feel this urgent need to write and write and write, despite knowing you have to be up by 0500 soon.

It’s 2202 at the time of writing this and I know if I can get to a thousand words or more by 2300, and truly express everything off my chest, then I’ll go to bed quicker.

That’s the trick to beating my own mind. I need to be at peace in order to sleep quickly and efficiently. I need to know that I’ve gotten everything off my chest, mind and plate. The thoughts cannot continue to run, or else I will never rest properly.

I will sleep fitfully, dream restlessly and snap awake at the most inopportune times. Like a few days ago, when I knew I was allowed to sleep in till 0900. So I decided to go to bed later, around 0100 only to bolt awake at 0630, because I couldn’t relax my mind.

It’s strange how all of this work. My methods and techniques in dealing with my mental hiccups and moods are all unique strategies known to me only. They only work on me, because I’ve crafted them to do exactly that.

Writing out my thoughts … listening to certain songs … even sitting a certain way, helps truly relax me and calm me before the storm of my own creation arrives.

And it is a wicked storm that will last 10 hours, before throwing me out of the eye and flinging me God knows where.

Where will I be after tomorrow’s long day?

I suppose it’s also extremely curious the effects of public transport has on me.

I’m a racer at my core. To go from A to B extremely fast, is what drives my passionate side wild.

Public transport doesn’t deliver that rush for me, for obvious reasons.

Instead it creates the strangest sense of purgatory I’ve ever felt.

So much so, that if Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are all real realms, created by your worst fears, then my form of limbo would exist on a train. Destination nowhere, random stops along the way, always in transit and never quite fast or slow.

Because I’m not in charge of the driving element, it is a bizarre feeling for me. I don’t like not doing anything to warrant the speed in which I am travelling.

Nor do I particularly like looking at strangers in a cabin for an hour in the morning and evening. There is just a strange sense of dis-connection that I can’t quite fathom.

It only adds to the strange tired surrealist experience I am currently going through right now.

This is a dreamlike episode I am currently putting myself through. Everything has slowed down, to the point where my thoughts are no longer running away from me, I’m typing at the perfect speed and thinking in sync with the sounds of my fingers hitting the keyboard.

The music, is on a loop, a pair of songs, so alike to each other, heavy beats and the slow strum of a guitar: Out of Time by Brian Reitzell, courtesy of the American Gods score & The Pink Room by Angelo Badalamenti, sourced from the atmospheric Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

It’s putting me in a strange trance, where every thought is loud, clear and almost echoing in my mind.

I’ve chosen this lifestyle.

The events life is characterised by hard manual work, constant patrolling, endless tasks, burning sun, pouring rain, tireless customer service, thankless acknowledgement, strangest hours, stressful situations, long bouts of boredom and the feeling of being completely alone whilst working in a team.

You are surrounded by thousands of people who are there for a good time, that only you can provide if everyone follows the rules.

The priest in a brothel. The chaplain in an army. The designated driver in a bar. The guy who is at “work disguised as a party”.

That is the cost of the events lifestyle.

I’m not joking when I say that I’m truly not sick of it yet.

In spite of the baggy eyes that look back at me, the trance state I am in to prepare myself for the long hours tomorrow, the calluses on my feet and stiffness in my shoulders, I’m still wearing a smile.

It might be tight, weary and a little bemused but it is a smile nevertheless.

I wouldn’t have my own career any other way. I love the down-to-earth nature of everyone in this business. I adore the physical strain against weather, safety equipment and events infrastructure. I’ve even made peace with the fact that events are temporary not permanent installations to be appreciated.

No, I’m not beaten yet. The determined fire within, still rages on.

I’m just need a bit of rest, that’s all.

However as promised, at 2249, I’ve finished writing over a thousand words, cheered myself on and steeled myself for the upcoming days, where I will be at a Marathon, an iconic square and a royal showgrounds.

And am I really out of anything if I can do all of that?

No. I’m never out of the fight against life.

I will bend it to my will.

~ Damocles.

FOMO – F**k Off, Me Only.

Perhaps the greatest gift introversion left me, was my ability to critically self-analyse emotional states in rapid speed.

This self analysis for my mental state has been an invaluable tool in navigating the world of extroversion. Because it is fundamentally a very different way of living for me, it has unlocked a lot of new feelings and sensations that I normally do not deal with.

The key one being FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

I’ve never really grappled with this sensation before. It is as if, being more extroverted has made me more curious and keen to try out new things, that I had previously dismissed.

I find myself considering activities that I hadn’t before, getting upset at not being invited to things, and overall getting irrationally fearful of the idea that perhaps I have been living my life wrong.

Perhaps I am too straight-edged, too disciplined, a person who cannot lose control like everyone else.

Am I boring?

That was the question that was running through my mind, as I realised that my 20s have been spent largely the same way; avoiding the excess of the party-lifestyle, never quite letting loose and avoiding altogether the type of night where you can forget, regret and dissect in bashful tones later.

It was in the middle of this panic, my critical self-analytical side came through and told me sternly:

The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.

It was right then and there, my FOMO disappeared almost instantly.

Why should I be ashamed of my impossibly high straight standards? I’ve chosen to live life this way.

No alcohol. No drugs. No stupid crowds. No environments that will tempt me to be led astray from my own exacting principles.

Whatever it is that normal people do, just because I engage with my friends more, doesn’t mean that I should compromise on what makes me a fundamentally different person to your average man.

It isn’t even a particularly arrogant claim either. There are just too many unique aspects about my character that elevate me beyond your normal person.

There are the surprised looks when I announce that I am a non-drinker. I somehow garner an instant respect that is imparted on my character. Then there is my actual name, which is relatively unique for a guy of Asian heritage. Even my appearance is strange, because of the numerous gadgets that populate my belt, courtesy of the EDC (Every Day Carry) philosophy I hold dear.

I’ve noticed that there are two types of reactions to my unflinchingly harsh values. I either earn people’s respect, or they want to drag me down to their level.

For example, my unwillingness to engage in clubbing or other raunchy debauchery only makes people want to drag me in more. The peer pressure is often intense and persistent. To the point where FOMO actually rears it’s ugly head.

Or they are keen to see me drink, as if witnessing me ingest alcohol will make them feel better.

People might question my standards, asking why I “subject” myself to such tough standards of living. I once met a guy who told he would never get along with me, simply because of my life choices.

“You’re not normal bro. You can’t loosen up.”

Which is true. I suppose I don’t really know how to loosen up the way everyone else does. I don’t drink, because to me, drinking is fundamentally running away.

You can’t find the courage to do something wild, so you need a false sense of bravado that can only come from drinking. It’s the same with drug use. Your creativity is limited, so you need something external to expand those horizons.

I don’t like running away from my mental problems. My defiance despite the mental strain, is what defines me and makes me stronger than the average person. I have confidence, wit, tenacity, will and calm because I refuse to run away from my problems.

I face them fair and square and deal with them on the spot. I don’t procrastinate, I don’t create excuses and I definitely don’t complain about my actions, if I know what the consequences are.

This is what makes me …. well …. me.

It’s why I wanted to address FOMO from a far less subjective way now. I can see now that FOMO is just a part of extroversion. After all, extroverts gather their energy from other people. To miss an opportunity, is to deprive yourself of that energy.

Which is why I am course-correcting my mental state. As a person who prides himself on being balanced and measured in many ways, I need to combat any heavy reliance on one form or the other. We’re talking about a guy who did a science and an arts degree in uni, can enjoy both indie and mainstream movies, loves military gear, whilst rocking a suit.

It’s why I have to learn to expel the emotions of FOMO out of my system. I can control who I want to see, and when I want to see them. I’m not as reliant on people like other extroverts are. Loneliness and solitude have always existed as comforting sensations in my head and I’m not going to give those up for the pleasures of seeing people every week.

I also want to remain fiercely independent. I don’t want to lose the points of differences that make me the person I am today. Rejecting the normal ways of “having fun and being loose” is a core part of what makes me unique.

Drinking, dancing and debauchery doesn’t do it for me. The moments I truly crave are those when the stakes are much higher than trying to score a girl’s number or a free drink at the bar.

Whilst a lot of people want to de-stress, unwind and hang out, I am all about the thrill. I desperately want more adrenaline, more activities that demand all my mental and physical prowess. Paintball, Karting, Urbex, Tennis, Range Days …. that is where I can really enjoy stress.

Perhaps the only true relaxing thing that I like to do, is golf, but even then, it can be mightily stressful getting a ball into a hole.

As I am going on this more extroverted journey, I need to keep reminding myself that the way I was living before, wasn’t wrong, ill-advised or boring.

I chose to live my life the way I want to, and swearing off the usual frivolities that other people engage in was a conscious decision that I made. I don’t have any regrets on doing so nor will I ever have. There are only so many places I can be at, at once and a lot of them don’t have much appeal to me.

FOMO is for folks who want to follow the trends and can’t buck conventions.

I’m never going to be one of those people.

So why should I pretend to be?

~ Damocles

Ambulance (2022) – Cinema Review

Y/N? Yes.

Director: Michael Bay

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II & Eiza Gonzalez.

Review by Damocles.

Street combat has never looked quite as good.

Michael Bay isn’t really known as a subtle director. He’s famous for a winning formula that genuinely makes his films some of the most watchable action fare a cinema-goer can get.

Some of them you can guess, like his iconic use of explosives and sweeping vistas with helicopters cutting across the screen. Others are just trademarked now, like extremely intense performances, crazy lines that could only pass in a Bay film, gratuitous lens flares and more recently, a very fun use of gore.

Growing up, I was addicted to scenes of Bad Boys 2, (which is still easily one of my favourite films of all time) and was a bit dismayed when the director chose to commit far too many years to the Transformers franchise.

But the release of 6 Underground, which is easily one of the most over-the-top Bay movie ever conceived, slowly bought him back into contention as one of the most energetic, frenetic and bombastic action directors working today.

I enjoyed Ambulance far more than 6 Underground though.

There was a certain restraint placed on Bay’s excess, due to the much smaller budget and the literal confines of an ambulance set.

I have always believed that the best work a director can make, is when they are passionate about a project, but are placed under certain restrictions. This forces them to work smarter and harder, instead of indulging too much in their creativity.

In Ambulance, you can still feel the presence of Bay’s signature style and taste, with prominent American flags still displayed in almost every scene, lens flares popping in to spice up the frame, and frenetic camera moves that enhances the chaos of the action, instead of the actual choreography.

Watching a Bay film isn’t so much an appreciation of finely tuned and carefully crafted choreography, but more a sequences of what is absolutely cool to look at and how these shots relate to the overall chaos that Bay creates for his action set-pieces.

For example, one of the earliest shoot-outs involve many incredible shots of SWAT Officers walking in tandem towards the chaos, exchanging fire with criminals who are scrabbling around, finding cover. This will then be interspersed with shots of police cars, drifting into position, particles flying across the screen, and the latest arsenal in Bayhem … drone shots that sweep the chaos.

The geography is confusing, the editing and cutting is fast and furious and the cacophony of sound is intense, but that is the point of the action sequence. It sells the chaos of the street combat in a visceral manner that can only be done by Bay’s sense of timing and direction.

In terms of direction towards actors, like most who end up in a Bay production, the actors give it their all. Cam, played by Eiza Gonzalez is clearly the heart of the film, her straight edged performance matching well with the earnest one from Yahya’s Will Sharp.

However, nothing can quite top the insane intensity that is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Danny. There is a sociopathic and manic unhinged energy to his performance that makes him arresting to watch, and creates much needed chaotic and unpredictable drama to even the quiet moments.

It is also a testament to Gyllenhaal and Abdul-Mateen II’s chemistry that they are able to effectively sell their formidable brotherhood, a bond that lasts all the way through the film.

It is that partnership that really sells the emotional element behind such a chaotic film, that is largely confined to the walls of the ambulance. The plot here is as thin as can be, effectively only used to sell audiences on the desperate moves of desperate people in desperate situations. It can be effectively summed up as “robbery gone wrong in LA” but such a simplistic summary doesn’t quite does justice to just how much Bay managed to wrangle out of such a simple premise.

Overall, the movie moves at a breakneck pace, slow only at the beginning to get you to care about the characters before shoving you head first into the wild chaos that Bay had in mind for his film. There are barely any moments to breathe, before the next insane action set-piece takes place.

From a cinematography perspective, Ambulance suffers or should I say, is enhanced by Bay’s classic use of advertising cinema. I use that word carefully, because watching Bay films is a lot like seeing a hyper intense version of a trailer. There is a clarity, colour and cool factor to his shot selections that makes them such visually interesting films. The use of lens flares, the dramatic close-ups, the quick cutting, the dramatic low angle shots … all of these create a reel that is never boring to look at.

As for the other parts of the production, I was struck by how authentic the weapons and extravagant the equipment used by the Law Enforcement was in the film. For a film that operated on a shoe-string budget, so much of the kit seen on screen had a real world authenticity to them and perfectly highlighted the differences between LE and the criminals they were fighting. This was in stark contrast to a film like the Gray Man, which had a much more hodge-podge aesthetic to the equipment used but with 4x the budget.

It should be said that Bay had a special relationship with LE throughout the production of Ambulance, and that many of the extras were active-duty police officers who wanted to be featured in the film, which explained why so many of the gear used looked so authentic.

Touching briefly on the score, Lorne Balfe returns to the world of Bayhem, by recycling a lot of his work in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. There is a sense of almost plagiarism to some of his slower, heroic melodies that were also employed in 13 Hours, and a lot of the action music was reminiscent, however with a more strange, almost angry beat to them, to heighten the street chaos being displayed on screen.

However, it should be said that in most Bay films, especially the action set-pieces, music has never really played a strong part in defining itself outside of the film. It is there to serve a purpose and that is ratchet up the atmosphere of what you are seeing on screen.

To sum up, Ambulance is an intense rollercoaster ride of a film, with barely any time to breathe. It is shot in a gritty, street-level way, with furious action that is only further enhanced by Bay’s trademarked style.

For a movie with a budget that is meant to temper Bay’s excess, this is definitely one of his better ones.

A scene to recall: Literally whenever Jake Gyllenhaal says something crazy. There are some lines that only he could deliver, the unhinged madman he is.

Defined by Disability

The conversation was the sort you wished you never engaged in.  

Short, stilted, stifling and stillborn.  

Working at the Melbourne International Film Festival, which prides itself on its accessibility and diversity, I struck up a conversation with one my volunteers, who was partially blind. 

I opened it the same way I would with anyone else, a quick question about what they do for a living, what life was like for them beyond the context of this festival.  

He said that he didn’t do anything.  

Undeterred by the curt nature of the answer, I asked about what made him chose to be a volunteer at MIFF. He said he wanted to do something.  

Now actively struggling with the lack interest in the conversation I gave it one last chance.  

I asked about what sort of films he liked. He replied a bit more genuinely with “exploitation movies” but when pressed, did not elaborate further on what was his favourite sub-genre.  

Looking at his body language, I knew that the conversation was as dead as it could be. His curt, succinct answers, the evasive body language, the nervous twitches and the way how he seemed to beat himself up after every answer … 

It was time to just slip into silence and make it as comfortable as two strangers sitting in close proximity could make it.  

A feat that was easier to accomplish than one would think, because silence was golden. It was one of those rare things, that I never felt awkward about. Sometimes the presence of a person was enough.  

The resentment he felt about his blindness was obvious. He blamed it for everything that was wrong with his life. It showed in the way how he refused to use his walking stick, putting it away as soon as possible. The way how he stared at his phone, trying to hold it as far back as possible. His tone of voice, gruff and bitter, whenever asked about his disability and whether we could help in any way.  

I never treated him any different to a person who could see, never asking once about his blindness or whether he wanted any special treatment.  

But his resentment was all consuming. He didn’t acknowledge my efforts, lumping me in with everyone else.  

His situation and attitude was all too understandable of course. If I had sight, and began to lose it, there is no telling how I would react as well. Probably the same as him. My world would soon fade and be covered in darkness. Memories would lose their potency, faces, once so distinct and sharp, now a blur.  

How terrifying. 

Would I let it define me though?  

It’s strange, because I was born partially deaf. I am unable to hear high-frequency sounds, hence my actual voice has a lisp to it, because to me, words don’t have a tsch, sch, or sh sound.  

So I don’t know what a world with those sounds, actually sound like. It also doesn’t greatly affect me. I’ve normalised it so much, chose to live life without hearing aids, and just crank up the volume on things that I don’t really see it as a disability.  

Sure, whispers are a struggle and I understand it’s frustrating for people to repeat themselves, but it’s never been viewed as a proper disability in my head.  

I consider myself lucky, if anything, to suffer such a minor inconvenience. I’ve been blessed in a lot of other ways, that more than make up for this tiny shortcoming.  

But for this random blind guy, he was consumed by the trauma of his disability. He was unable to let it go, choosing to let the pain define who he was as a person.  

I know I am making huge assumptions about the guy, but there was such a strange sadness to his behaviour, I couldn’t help but feel pity for him.  

It reminded me of a very modern problem, where people define themselves by their past instead of their present.  

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.  

People who define themselves by the past find it easier to view the world as a place that owes them something. Whether it is a traumatic event, some ancient history related to their culture or something that happens to be trending and resonant to their values, these people find their worth in the past.  

It’s a terribly backwards way to live. Defined by your past, never truly letting go of issues that shouldn’t affect your future. But for these people, it is all they have to live by. At their core, these people will never truly move on, because the world is to blame, and the world has to change to suit them.  

Which of course is nonsense, because no one is beholden to anything, nor anything to them. You make your own way, no matter how difficult or easy the road is.  

But that is the deceptive beauty behind living in the past. You can make your own way easier, by blaming external factors, instead of the fact that you are the one not moving your feet in the right direction.  

You can manipulate the world into blaming itself, guilting itself to fit your narrative, your own personal story.  

It is these sort of people who, without conscious effort, will invariably self-destruct. 

To live in the past, is to always travel backwards, and stifle personal growth. You are defined by your past, thus you are unable to let go of it.  

Those whose eye is on the future, will always outshine those who live in the past. Because to live a full life, is to understand that you are always continuously improving. You aren’t defined by your past, moulded slightly by it, affected deeply by it, but never defined.  

You are more than your past, more than your mistakes, greater than your trauma and far more capable than your previous self. Every day, should be a step forwards in improving a part of you, discovering a new element within your complex and pushing your boundaries.  

It could be found in a new way of talking to a friend, reading a book about new psychology, exploring a new topic of interest, listening to different viewpoints or even pushing your comfort zone at work.  

This is what it means to let go of your past, because you learn from your mistakes, do your best not to repeat them and take on board the lesson.  

We’ve all been despicable at some point in our lives … what makes us better, is understanding the route to that mistake and not repeating the error.  

Similarly, we’ve all been slighted by someone before. Why should their folly define who we are as a person?  

At some point in that person’s life, they too will be challenged. If they let their past define them, they will never grow. Just like how if you allow that person’s attitude and behaviour towards you define you, you will never evolve.  

Don’t let the past define who you are … learn from it and look to something greater in the future.     

~ Damocles.

576 Hours of Performance.

24 Hours of Le Mans

Tuesday 12th 2022 0900HRS ——- August 4th 2022 2000HRS

24 Days of Non-Stop Work.

In what has to be the worst scheduling conflict of my entire professional career, I had accidentally booked myself in for work every single day.

I didn’t even stop there either, I made sure my calendar had social agenda items, space for deep emotional talks and time to work out.

Looking back on it, I’m not even sure I remember exactly what I did. Certain moments stand out … crucial make or break flashpoints that defined how my mental state was going to cope with the next day.

Mostly, the 24 days were filled with what I call “Operational Fugue:” 80% boredom followed up with 20% of sheer panic.

Which means that I don’t really remember any strong details from those 24 days, because they all started to blend together into an miasma of constant work.

All I knew is that I had to keep trudging along … right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot … until I could finally wrap it all up.

So if the days start to blend together, what are the flashpoints do I actually remember?

Go-karting was one of them. As was the RUN MELBOURNE Marathon event I worked at. EDUTEST was another. A run-in with a friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 5 years. An emotional break-down. Donating blood.

And finally saying goodbye to my retail job.

When I look back at my calendar, that is surprisingly accurate. These are all the main flashpoints that really defined the 24 day work stint.

So perhaps my memory is not as shot as I originally thought it was.

However to truly understand why I embarked on such a long working stint is to appreciate that my event career is finally starting to take off.

Traditionally for 2022, I have been working 6 day work-weeks. I will do my obligatory 5 days at my retail store before giving myself an opportunity over the weekend to work at some event. Which meant that my Saturdays would be booked for an event gig, before heading back in to retail for a shorter Sunday and recovery on Mondays.

Everything was quite well balanced, all things considered, because the work load at my extremely quiet retail store was light. I also thought of my event gigs as a mini-holiday, a welcome reset from the drudgery of retail, because the energy and vibes of an event was so adrenaline-soaked, that it reinvigorated me for the week.

So … because I was working that extra day, I started picking up gigs left, right and centre. It didn’t matter what kind of event it was, if it was paid, I was going to be the known as the ever-competent, strong Red Bull Mercenary.

Why Red Bull? Because my event uniform, regardless of any event I attended, was the same. A Formula 1 Red Bull polo shirt, with dark navy cargo pants, a drop-leg pouch on my right thigh with cable ties and a Red Bull can sitting comfy inside, two multi-tools and a torch on my right side and a pair of Mechanix gloves on my left hip.

Besides being a stunning, loud and professional design, the Red Bull polo shirt instantly created a certain a myth around me. It was my personal brand. This was a conscious statement, that you could rely on my experience and abilities. It also spoke about my passion for motorsports, and could even be interpreted as a further testament to my love for all things precise and mechanical. Finally, because the polo shirt was just so loud, it also acted as an low-key high-visibility shirt. Everyone couldn’t mistake it for anything else.

It meant that everything I did was scrutinised and noticed … and I had no issue with being nicknamed “Red Bull” whenever I was needed.

Thus my reputation amongst a lot of different event companies was growing. People were getting impressed and eager to hire me.

Which is how I scored a job at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and the Melbourne Showgrounds.

Both of which have been extremely fun so far and thus enabled me the exit from retail I so desperately wanted.

But the problem was, because I was full-time in retail … this meant that I had to give 4 weeks notice.

And being the moron I was, instead of taking 2 weeks of leave, I decided to ride it out and somehow balance three jobs in one long 576 hours stint.

This meant that on the days I wasn’t working at retail, I was then rushing to the Melbourne Showgrounds to start my career there, or heading out to see friends after work. I crammed my schedule so tight that there were days when I left the house at 0545 and didn’t get home till 0400 the next day … which meant that I nearly spent 24 hours awake.

Thus those flashpoints stood out very strongly in my mind. Because they were the moments that just stand out above the constant grind.

Go-Karting was fun because I went with two new friends who have never tried it and I was the quickest racer on track, easily lapping many people around me.

It also reignited in me the old spark, of what I still crave, the smell of petrol, the slight loss of control when the back-end flicks out, unable to keep up with my turning angle and the absolute thrill of delivering a clean lap, whilst over-taking slower karters.

But if you asked me to describe the experience in vivid detail, I’ll struggle to do so, because the night became a blur very quickly, because by the time the lap was finished, I was already prepping myself mentally for work the next day.

The RUN MELBOURNE event was unlike any other I have experience. It didn’t help that the day before I was working at the Showgrounds, on EDUTEST, an academic exam aimed at high school students, to assist with their application to better schools.

I saw none of the exams for the record. Arriving at 0650 after a long drive, with an overnight bag slung over my shoulder, I put everything down quickly and was instantly sent to work … traffic managing over 4000 cars.

In the rain. With stupid rules that meant that parents had to leave their child behind in our care and then exit. In which the exit only worked perfunctorily because there was a traffic light that only flashed green too infrequently to allow this sea of cars to exit out of the venue.

Thus creating a huge backlog of cars that stretched for ages and kicked off what I called “the soccer mom” phase, where angry parents, frustrated at sitting in their cars for hours now began to complain loudly and get out of their vehicles to voice their opinion to us, the staff who have nothing to do with the organisers.

And it was terrifying, seeing a flash crowd hop out of their cars, 8 at a time and begin to echo their harassment at you. Soaked, tired, and already close to half of my 27K steps done that day, I mostly resorted to polite pleading, for understanding and pointing out the fact that they didn’t need to be soaked whilst waiting.

Luckily, this mollified most of them, but the complaints were a constant throughout the entire day, and it was extremely difficult to maintain a customer service mien for what was a 8 hour shift. However push through I did, despite the rain, the shitty attitudes and the slow ache in my feet. Because at the end of the day, this was the kind of work I loved and wanted to do for the rest of my life. Nothing else could compare, especially the drudgery of retail to being outdoors, in the elements, working at an event.

But the moment the shift was over, I began my journey to the city, hooking my heavy duffel bag over my shoulder through crowded trains, where I had booked an South Yarra apartment for myself, because in all honesty, what I wanted and desperately craved was space for myself after weeks and hours of work.

And it was perfect. Quite possibly the best highlight of the entire 24 work day stint, because it was spacious, quiet, had a nice view of the city and I was alone. I could truly just let my guard down and just live in the moment, despite knowing that I had to get up by 2am the next day.

So I sorted out my kit, walked out, grabbed nearby Greek food at the restaurant opposite my apartment, did some light grocery shopping; an orange juice, a Red Bull and some muesli bars, and then sat in front of the TV and just relaxed.

Then it was off to bed at 2000Hrs, and I slept fitfully, unsure if I was going to miss my alarm.

I ended up waking up early, staring out at the city view and noting how dark it was outside. I took a shower, downed the orange juice, and put on my Red Bull event uniform, then hunted for an e-scooter to take me to the venue.

Scooting along the road, I caught the remnants of a wild night out for a lot of people at 3am in the morning, drunkards passed out on the street or stumbling along the road. But I was too preoccupied with looking for the venue at Olympic Park to care.

RUN Melbourne ended up being one of the more interesting events I’ve ever worked at. The staff were all consummate professionals, at first slightly taken aback by my overwhelming amount of kit, but were soon reassured by my own event history and knowledge. I was a 2IC to one of the key organisers, and within an hour, was given a radio, autonomy and a section to look after.

It seemed that whatever I was doing, taking initiative, performing tasks with confidence and competency, was working.

My main role at the event was to spot the podium finishers for each of the races, the half-marathon, the 10K and the 5K run and then help with the pack-down.

Both of which went pretty flawlessly, except for the length of the event itself, which surprised me by finishing by 2pm in the afternoon, especially when you consider that it only started at 6am in the morning. But what really shocked me, was when I looked at my clock at 1000 and realised to my astonishment that I had been up and working for 7 hours by that point.

It was right then and there, I took my first Red Bull of the day.

So for the rest of the day, I was lugging crowd control barriers to and from spots, taking down marquees, and emptying hundreds of litres of water and Gatorade bins.

It was glorious, physical work under a warm sun, and I ended up being good companions with a lot of staff, for my technical knowledge and friendly banter.

By the time 1700 rolled around, I was physically spent and I could feel my legs were shaking from exhaustion, the previous day’s stint of 27K steps, now superseded by 47K.

I ended up consuming 3 Red Bulls that day, the last two, taken one after another, to get me back to my accommodation.

The sleep I had that night was instant and deep, only to be rudely awakened at 0700 to prepare for the Monday’s continued pack-down. It was lighter work thankfully, but it did feel longer, considering how much truck-packing there was and how tired I was after yesterday’s efforts.

But by Monday’s 1400, I was on my way home-home, and ready to collapse for the rest of the day.

Most people would have taken the next day off.

Not me. Tuesday morning, I was in my retail uniform, serving customers again and thinking about how much longer I could keep this constant work performance up.

When I look back at this long work stint, I realise that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be. As long as I paced myself, didn’t let the stress of working too much get to me and just slept at regular hours, I knew I was going to be OK.

I’m still surprised that I never got sick once during that period, or even now. With the amount of people I was seeing, the outdoor conditions and the bizarre hours I was eating at, I was sure that at some point I was going to get sick.

But it turned out I was a lot healthier and stronger than I thought.

Long challenges like these remind me that maybe I am a bit more capable than the ordinary person. That maybe, just maybe, if I was successful in enlisting in the Army, I could have survived the SAS’ Selection and become one of the world’s most feared Special Forces warriors.

It’s also touched on a strange nerve I have, about how much I’ve changed into a workaholic.

Because despite some heavy emotional moments, I kept my head up and did what I had to. I went to work. I had tough conversations. I stayed true to myself. I met with friends, despite my exhaustion and I fulfilled my duties.

I don’t think I could have asked more of myself, but somehow, despite doing all of that, for 24 days straight …. I still get this feeling that I could have given more.

But maybe that is just fanciful thinking.

~ Damocles.

To have everything ….

It never ceases to surprise me, how life can still be so lifeless despite having everything.

There is a certain attraction to nihilistic thinking when you have everything you could desire.

When I look at my life, there is so much to be thankful, grateful and appreciative of.

Allow me to list just a few of these elements:

  • A stable family unit – a community leader father, a sweet & loving mother, and a self sufficient younger brother
  • A close-knit group of friends, all of whom are quite respectable people in their own right
  • Working in desired industry and making a name for myself, thanks to my iconic self-branding
  • Relatively fit and coordinated in comparison to a lot of my other friends
  • Decently intelligent, with a focus on quick-analysis and rapid problem solving
  • Live in a prestigious and safe neighbourhood, with plenty of parks and shopping centres close-by
  • Owns a car with decent mileage
  • Does not have any physical defects or disabilities
  • Debt-free, with a decent income
  • Am decently popular with people, and with a reputation for reliability to boot.
  • Has access to a professional network that is quite influential in wider Victoria and a support network that is remarkably generous.
  • Has reasonably good taste in many cultural elements, from food to fashion and broader aesthetic appeal.
  • Am not terribly ugly
  • Am only attracted to healthy women, both mentally and physically
  • Blessed with a lack of curiosity regarding drugs, alcohol, nicotine and other narcotics
  • Seem to have a special relationship with Lady Luck but am not a gambler

When you look at my life, as a considerable whole …. there is very little to criticise. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have steered and be guided in all the right ways.

So why is it that I keep getting these urges to throw it all away?

When you have everything, there is this strange feeling that you should have nothing.

Perhaps this emotional response stems from the bizarre notion that maybe in life, I’ve made too many correct decisions, that I haven’t really fell from grace and had a proper chance to learn from my mistakes. I’m almost too responsible, too balanced to the point that I am seeking out cheap thrills to make up for some defect in me that is entirely made-up.

Because when you have everything, you start making up your own problems to solve.

If that concept is true, that I really have made too many right choices, then it would explain why the main complaint about my life is all centered around the notion of boredom.

Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat  – whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

And when you’ve made as many correct decisions as I have, and live such a sheltered life, it’s bound to get to you. I can’t seem to make mistakes, regardless of how terrible my life might be.

In some cases, even my most severe mistakes are covered off by Lady Luck herself.

Perhaps I am underestimating my own mental fortitude, that others might have fallen from grace even with all the opportunities I have, but I still haven’t quite found that challenge where I’ve felt like I had to give it my all.

It’s why the idea of starting afresh, alone, away and far from everything I’ve ever had seems so enticing. Because there is no greater challenge than trying to make something of yourself with a blank canvas.

I suppose that is why I find writing so soothing. Because I start with absolutely nothing but a blank piece of paper. It is starkly white, devoid of any creativity or thought. It is truly empty.

I’ve reached this strange crossroad in my life, where I feel this urge to just disappear and see what I am truly made of, without help or anything comfortable. It’s strange to reject such a wholesome, perfect lifestyle where I am truly blessed with incredible people and opportunities but that is just how I feel.

I like to think that I am a self-made man. That I’ve gotten this far without any true assistance or hand-holding, that my mistakes were mine to make, my luck is mine to own and that my life is truly mine to control.

But the more I ponder about it, the more I can’t help but feel like I’ve been too lucky. Like the consequences for my life have not been severe enough. It is such a bizarre concept, that even now I have to admit that it sounds like I am making up more problems again, just to justify some stupid insecurity.

I just want to feel like my life is tougher than it currently is. It is hard to hear praise for my current lifestyle, without feeling like some imposter, like I haven’t really truly earned the compliments because deep down, I know I haven’t worked hard enough to deserve it.

I suppose it falls back to the question that I’ve always struggled to answer.

Do I work hard enough?

People around me seem to think so. They’re calling upon me to rest, to slow down and smell the roses.

But I don’t know if I am working that hard. It seems like everything comes so naturally for me. That I got plenty of down-time even during my shifts at work.

Perhaps it’s not work that I really want more of, but stimulation. I want to experience that rush of everything working perfectly in unison, mentally and physically more often. But too often it’s one or the other.

With event work, it’s generally more physically-intensive, whilst with my general hobby of writing, it is obviously mentally stimulating.

Where is the job where it becomes both? I already know the instinctive answer deep down, that I can only find that in the military, but I’ve put those dreams to rest already.

I know that the closest I am going to get to that rush of both mental and physical taxation, is when I can finally organise my own festivals without any interference. My ambition in that sense is still very strong. The desire to create an event that will be remembered and renowned the state over is still burning very brightly.

I just hope that my apparently endless good luck will allow me to keep this original idea to myself, before someone takes it and cocks it up.

However, back to the question at hand …. do I work hard?

If I said Yes … I don’t believe myself.

If I said No … I also don’t believe that either.

So like most of my life so far, it seems like I am merely coasting along, cruising on my luck and genetic talent …

It just feels so lazy, like I am not truly living life as I should be, working much harder to achieve my goals.

In a strange way, I envy so many of my friends for their daily struggles. Life for them, seem so much harder.

It looks genuinely more tiring, more energy is required to survive, whilst I am over here, merely getting by with ease, no problems or issues at all.

That is why when they praise me for seemingly having it all put together, I instantly feel like I am not worthy. I don’t struggle as much as they do, nor do I put in as much as they do.

I don’t suffer as much as they do.

I know … what a stupid problem to have.

These feelings of unworthiness are such a strange issue to have, in my seemingly perfect life, but like most insecurities, they eat away at you and will never quite fade away.

Still, in the broader context of things, it’s a lot better to always feel like you have to work harder, achieve more and be better than hold yourself on a pedestal.

So even now, these feelings can be seen in a positive light, an additional boost of motivation to be better, so that one day I can feel worthy of the things I’ve achieved.

Yeah …. I got too much going for me.


~ Damocles.


Recently, I’ve been finding myself longing for a dog.

Perhaps it was just a very trying week I went through, but there’s no denying the fact that I’ve been quite touched by the two pets that have comforted me when I was feeling my most down.

For a very long time, most of my friends have mentioned that I would be best suited handling a dog for a pet. With my active lifestyle, military obsession and fondness for all things expressing disciplined aggression, I suppose it is only natural that a dog, preferably one suitable for K-9 application would be my pet of choice.

There is something remarkably sweet about how perceptive dogs are too, the way how they look at your with their eyes, sympathy pouring out from their pupils and the manner in which they keep you company when you are down.

It is the perfect, quiet companionship that everyone needs once in a while.

Nowadays with where I am at mentally, I’ve never really given as much serious thought into owning a pet, as I do now.

I am all too aware of the cons.

The mess pets leave behind, the cost of owning one, the daily exercise, the fact that I might one day grow to resent the poor animal, due to some of the inconveniences that might arise, fur in general …

But there is just something undeniably sweet about having one nearby to stroke, feel comforted by and sense the unconditional love. It is such a pure feeling, something that I’ve noticed is in short supply nowadays.

I can already picture myself running alongside with my dog, raising it up from a young pup to a grown adult and overall just enjoying my time with a pet in my life.

So what is holding me back?

I suppose it’s the demands of the pet. Working in the events field, I know that I have a lot of long, irregular hours, with some of them stretching multiple days in a row. I can’t bring my dog to every event, in the hopes of exercising it during my break. I also suspect travelling all around Melbourne will keep me away from my pet frequently, which is equally neglectful.

Nor could I see myself feeling comfortable knowing that the poor creature is stuck in a tiny apartment with me, with barely any room to run around, as that is a serious consideration for the health of the pet.

I also fear the emotional attachment, as strange as that sounds. Having a pet pass away is a highly tragic moment in any pet owner’s life and that is a piece of emotional baggage that I could do without. The loss would be devastating to me and whilst I will doubtless recover, knowing myself as well as I do, the world wouldn’t be quite the same without the dog in it.

In a lot of ways, this reflective piece about dogs and the benefits they would bring me, versus the negative effects is emblematic of how I view the world.

I’m afraid of the emotional investment in a lot of things. I struggle with the leap of faith that is needed to dismiss the cons of a beneficial relationship and just appreciate good times for what they are.

Instead I over-rationalise, drive logic in where emotions rules and try to stop things before they have even started.

I mean this is the perfect case in point, all the benefits of owning a dog is clear.

Having a dog would enrich my life, teach me to be more responsible, get me active and provide comfort when none is forthcoming. I would come home to a much friendlier and warmer atmosphere, and enjoy some quiet companionship when I need it.

In a lot of ways, having a dog would do a lot to remove some of the recurring existentialist issues that I seem to have a habit of repeating. A dog would keep me busy after work, forcing me to exercise when I don’t want to, and be my friend when I don’t really have any to call upon.

It would be a wonderful reminder that in spite of all my flaws, problems and issues, I am still loved in some shape or form.

All the benefits of having a pet are there, staring at me in the face.

But I can’t quite accept it.

Perhaps that is the biggest running joke about my life. That I am so used to caring for others, that the moment something can care for me, I shy away from it.

It is almost like I am incapable of accepting help, only offering it.

I pre-emptively dismiss any help thrown my way, being a stubborn jerk about it, refusing to admit to an extent, how much I actually need help, before turning around and complaining about no-one doing anything to assist me.

How ironic.

I suppose that is all the more reason to invest in a dog. At least their feelings aren’t hurt as badly by my actions, like some of my friends. I can’t resist the sad look in a dog’s eyes, any more I would push away a sultry woman pouting prettily at me.

If that is the case, then I might as well indulge as much as I can into this fantasy.

What breed would I pick for my first dog?

Ideally a good medium sized dog. People have often associated me with the most iconic K9 breed, the German Shepherd, but ever since I watched John Wick 3: Parabellum, I love the size, look and intelligence of a Belgian Malinois.

I wouldn’t be above a classic Labrador Retriever or a Beagle either. In short, my choice of dogs are your classic shepherd breeds, big enough to be fast and strong, smart enough to save you and aggressive enough to take down threats.

What would name your dog?

Ideally my pet would be male but I’m not opposed to a female dog either. If it was male, I would name him Sabre, a call back to my fencing days in uni as well as a small reference to the British military vernacular.

If I had a female dog, her name would be Halle, an obvious nod to the actress Halle Berry and her kickass role in the third John Wick movie.

What would your daily routine be with your dog?

Ideally I would do exercise twice a day. Once in the morning, a brisk, short run and then a longer walk/run in the evening. If I lived near a beach, it would be nice to do laps along the sand with the dog in tow, and using the exercise equipment along the coast. I would naturally feed it around the same time as my dinner and lunch and ensure that it is cleaned weekly.

I think I would also enjoy playing fetch with it too, with a frisbee or a chewed up tennis ball.

How would you treat your dog?

Like a dog. They’re a pet after all and at the end of the day, they’re not going to solve all my problems and be some miracle cure. Owning a dog means that I still have to look after it, and take care of it. There is a duty of care to the animal and I have to take that responsibility seriously.

It’s not a child, nor is it my best friend. At the end of the day, it is an animal, albeit incredibly loyal and loveable.

It will be one of my best companions and I’ll do everything in my power to ensure it enjoys all the benefits of being my friend, but I’m not going to kid myself into anthropomorphizing it further than its name.

What training would you give your dog?

Obviously I want to ensure that my pet is incredibly intelligent and obedient. If I can’t stand stupid people around me, I don’t think I would want a stupid pet either.

To have it do all the classic “sit, stay, play dead” would be ideal, but obviously with my military obsession, I would love to have my dog be trained to the same level as a police/military K-9 unit. To have a dog that can be fun, lovable and cute, and then at the click of a fingers, turn into a fur missile would be incredibly empowering.

It would also just be awesome to see my dog take down a human being.

Would I get another dog or stick to one?

Just one. One pet is more than enough.

When would you seriously consider getting one?

Not until I’ve fully settled down into my new job and moved out properly. There is so much change happening this year, I am not ready to bring in a pet. Even then, I have to settle my misgivings about pets and the emotional investment they require.

At the end of the day, as much as I am suited for a pet and a whole lot of other desirable elements, at this point of my life, there is so much uncertainty that I can’t commit to the idea.

I like doing things right. If I can’t settle other parts of my life, then I should not be anywhere near taking care of another sentient creature.

Still, one can dream I suppose. No harm in that.

~ Damocles.