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

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

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

Trauma

As a person who regularly moderates and observes his own mental state and emotional range, even now I am struggling to comprehend what happened yesterday, on the 11th of July, 2021. The gambit of emotions I have run through in the past 24 hours is testing every fibre of my resolve.

From a cold, objective perspective, what I witnessed yesterday was a systematic, calculated and Machiavellian plot to take down an elder statesman in the community.

It was … honestly, brilliant. A rather remarkable display of politics, insinuation and calculated slander. Always hinting, never directly targeting the blame. Always skirting the issue, yet the problem is clearly labelled.

A textbook example of how to ruin a man, whose untouchable reputation in the community was ironclad and ensure his fervent supporters were powerless to stop the slow decay of his mental state.

As the elder statesman bore more and more of the blame, of the fact that people despised him, despite his previous achievements, his stature and reputation, the head got lower and lower, until it finally reared itself from his hands, in a final, explosive burst.

He was all alone when it happened but literally seconds later, he was surrounded and pulled in every which way. A mob had surrounded him, his family desperate to tear him away from screams, hands and pleas to the car, as cameras filmed the entire debacle.

That elder statesman left in a blaze of anger, depression, trauma and scorned pride. Never before in the community, has a man been so humiliated, publicly decried and cast out in such a dramatic fashion.

The entire debacle was quite possibly the most divisive, destructive and pathetic thing I’ve ever seen and as a dark horse myself, it was also surprisingly illuminating into how politics work. I had flashbacks of infamous assassinations in history, from Caesar’s betrayal to Trotsky’s death.

If an injury has to be done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared – Niccolo Machiavelli.

This injury was so severe, the man was hospitalised soon after, his entire world upended by the past 4 hours.

It just so happens, that the man who left the public inquiry, (more or less a public trial) in hysterics and tears was my father.

Speaking from a more emotional side, and as his son, I am torn between 70% pity and 30% resignation.

I pity the man and am sorrowful for his mental collapse. This is a man who has sacrificed everything, including his family, for the Vietnamese community.

All his work, passion, thoughts and energy went in service of the community. Every second sentence out of his mouth, was about how much he loved serving the community, how much he despised the Communists for taking over Vietnam and how his current project, a community centre in Victoria, meant everything to him.

He lived, breathed and now …. sacrificed everything for the community.

The other part of me, is resigned because this was a long time coming. His passion sometimes fuelled his pride too much and caused clashes with other headstrong individuals in the community. His inability to apologise for faults of his own making, and words had created dangerous enemies. There is a stubbornness of an ox in him, and naturally it was bound to cause division.

The past 7 months, he has become a brow-beaten individual. I have witnessed a incredible decay slowly tear away at him, from the inside. At first, I thought he was recovering but now … he is finished. Finished in every sense of the word. He has given up the fight inside of him, and is now more or less on autopilot. He doesn’t sleep properly, nor eat, nor can properly string together sentences well.

To provide context into what has caused the downfall of my father, you need to be aware of a couple salient facts.

  1. He is essentially one of the toughest individuals I know. Stubborn, resolute, honourable … his moral compass is unwavering. He has passed on better paying jobs, because he refuses to bend his moral code.
  2. Sacrifice is almost normal for him … only recently, has he really opened up about how he feels tremendous guilt for not being there more for my brother and I when we were growing up. This devotion to the community, has nearly robbed him of his family too.
  3. Stoicism is another trait of his that has really developed some questionable mental health issues that should have been treated long ago. Whilst I describe myself as stoic, I am also highly aware of my own emotional issues and perform weekly mental checks to be aware of my own state. From the moment I am awake, I am always hyper aware of my emotions and my consciousness works tirelessly to ensure my sub-conscious does not take over. My father does not have that level of self-awareness. He is ill-equipped to deal with his own failures, successes and his own mental health. Thus he hardly ever opens up, preferring to build upon the rot that is taking hold of him from the inside. This is a quintessential old man attitude to problem solving.
  4. He has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to the Vietnamese community. He is revered by many and respected by almost all.
  5. Lastly, were you to meet him in his prime, the only real way to describe him is a fervent revolutionary and patriot. Whilst I am sure he would object to the word, a fundamentalist is not an inaccurate term. For him, the world is very black or white, friend or foe, hero or villain.

Hence to accuse this pillar of the community, with suspicions of embezzlement and poor management is an incredibly deep blow to my father’s reputation. This is in light of his already touchy trigger point when it comes to money, due to a 2-year long lawsuit several years prior in which another member of the community accused my father of embezzlement.

His short fuse, becomes essentially a trigger, the moment any mention of money is involved and this was in the context of the community centre which he has ran from decades and is his biggest passion project. To strike so deeply at his very core, shook him immensely. It didn’t help one iota that these accusations came from his best friends, his proteges and people he had known for many years.

Naturally to have an public inquiry into his conduct, only one man had the power to call for such a open discussion into my father, the President of the Vietnamese Community, a man, my father once called a brother and personally groomed for the role, after his own retirement from the role.

Much like the Cain and Abel story, the current President had transformed into an entirely different person, his conduct becoming more political and phony, with every conversation I have had with the man, dripping with condescension, arrogance and insincere remarks. He behaves as if he is always standing in front of a journalist, with a mic in front of him …. his political double-speak and roundabout ways of describing things, a rather sickening aspect of his personality.

It doesn’t help that he lacks many loyal supporters, is indecisive and far too pedantic about small things, to really see the larger picture and the futility of his angry actions.

Petty, cowardly and spineless, the current President pinned the blame for an increase in land ownership payment squarely on the shoulders of my father, a move that is typical of his ilk. The irony of the entire situation was not lost on me, as in a move to try and cement his power, he underlined the weakness of his own, for in failing to address this payment it only highlighted the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of his leadership.

It would be amusing, if it wasn’t all so pathetic.

In the lead-up to the trial, my father had become so distraught and lost, that he ventured down a very dark path. Constantly watching samurai films, reflecting on the potential loss …. indulging in nihilistic thoughts … it came to a head that he asked for a family meeting and handed us his suicide note.

I ended up being the only one who read it, having had experience in writing and reading other people’s final thoughts before.

My brother and mother couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

When you view someone’s note, it always make for heart-wrenching reading. The whole note reeks of desperation, a plea for help and a futile helplessness that always ends up making the whole experience pathetic.

Because in many ways the truth is pathetic.

Everything we do is small in terms of the universe and such a concept is too humbling because we lose ourselves in it. Hence when you read someone’s final thoughts, you feel wretched reading it, and you know that the person felt equally terrible writing it.

But my father held on for this Sunday’s public hearing.

He had this hope that justice would prevail.

However, when I walked in and observed how the trial would go, I instantly clued in to the trap.

The facilitator was a compatriot of the President. The President didn’t seemed fazed by the video testimony of my father’s. My father’s supporters had their time cut short, due to “time constraints” which honestly had zero merit nor meaning. The facilitator would ask his own questions, chiming in to the interrogation and shouting over answers which his ridiculously tone-deaf attitude.

Then there was the hostile public, who often asked questions that had zero relation to the context of the meeting, and in a stereotypical Vietnamese fashion, would ask the same question in a different manner, just to have their ego stroked. This ensured the meeting went on much, much longer than necessary, a tactic that would be applauded by interrogators world-wide as it ensures the mental strain is enhanced by the slowness of everything occurring.

My father’s already fractured mental state would have broken even more under the constant barrage of questions which is again, another well known interrogation technique used in questioning suspects.

This trial wasn’t really a trial. It was essentially a trap designed around breaking down my father to a raw emotional state, so that it seemed that he was too emotionally distraught to make any rational decisions, thus nullifying his power and position as the lead of the heritage centre.

In contrast, the President would seem cool, rational and saintly, for having tolerated such an emotional subordinate for so long.

How could such a trial be a trial, without a clear outcome at the end? What was the purpose of this actual meeting? Why present my father before the public, as a scapegoat if the outcome was to prove/disprove his innocence? No such answers were provided at the end of the meeting, only political manoeuvring and heavy insinuations.

Instead, they asked the public to contribute questions on how to fundraise more money. That was none of the public’s concern. It was the committee’s job to think about how. Not the public.

But it did provide the opportunity for the public to ask even further questions and drag my father’s name further in the dirt.

It worked.

Because up until now, it seemed OK. My father was holding it together. The trap wasn’t too horrible to bear. Then they asked questions about one of his closest friends and before she could probably answer, the overbearing, pompous facilitator interrupted her, cutting her off.

This was the final straw. My father whose hands were covering his hand, could no longer stand by idly. Something inside of him snapped and he screamed at the entire crowd, before rushing out. His closest friends tried to stop him, afraid that he would do something rash. Opponents also rushed him, demanding him to stay and answer questions. My mother and brother screamed at everyone to let him go.

Utter chaos, mass hysteria.

I was frozen, unable to comprehend that sheer panic that had just happened. But I did note the expressions of his detractors and noted the smug expressions. So I merely picked up my father’s belongings, my own and followed the mob out, shutting off phones in the process, and staring at my father going stark raving mad.

I managed to push my way through to his car, and opened the door so that my family could get in. I only had just shut the door and said sternly, for everyone to Fuck Off when one of our closest family friends got in and drove off.

He was admitted into hospital literally 20 minutes later.

I followed suit in my car, with my best friend beside me. Everyone was concerned about me, but I knew that I had held everything together. I wasn’t going to get emotional, despite what I had just saw.

I was in control still.

A brief glimmer of pride blossomed inside of me, before it was instantaneously replaced with concern. So I followed my family to the hospital, where thankfully my father had calmed down enough.

There are some things that are traumatic to witness from a child’s perspective. Seeing your father essentially go crazy for a brief period, with hands grabbing at him constantly is one of those things. Tears, screams, wails and crazed expressions are horrible.

Fathers, for all their stereotypes, aren’t meant to weep nor show strong displays of emotions. Even in the family meeting he was subdued. But here my family and I were, confronted with a true image of the demon that controlled him inside.

Even now, I get the feeling I will never shake that image out of my head.

There is a reason why I am writing all of this now, because first and foremost, writing has always been my greatest therapeutic asset. I write when I am stressed, nervous, afraid, concerned, or confused. It allows me to recognise, sort and decipher all the complex emotion I am experiencing.

Even now, as I type these words out, I can feel my mind coming to grips with what happened yesterday better and better. I don’t have any particularly strong feelings of revenge, like my brother and mum. I am purely focused on helping my dad recover, to rediscover himself and find a new purpose.

He had sacrificed being a human being, with a curiosity for the world and other worldly pursuits for the community. I was determined to ensure this wasn’t going to happen again.

A big part of why he had turned into the shell of his former self, was because he devoted every waking moment to the community and the fight against Communism. He had no other pursuits, no other hobbies, nothing to take his mind off his work.

He was curious as to how I knew so much about fashion, about history, about guns and militarism. I told him flatly that I wasn’t devoted to just one thing, like he was.

I took him golfing, because as a man in his 60s, he wanted to keep up with me in tennis, but his body wouldn’t let him. So what better sport than golf? Out in the sunshine, beautiful greenery and swinging a club …. he could actually relax and focus on something different entirely.

He told me he had fun.

I told him, that fun was crucial for a good lifestyle.

He desperately needed a hobby where he could detox away from his phone and responsibility, and thus learn to appreciate the small things in life, whether it be a fine wine, the sensation of club against ball or the scent of rain.

He had lost his zeal for life, and thus when his only purpose was taken away too … he had nothing to live for.

The classic salaryman issue that plagues a lot of Asia.

Working with him, to rediscover himself, won’t be easy. But he is a strong man, and I have faith in his strength that he will get over this setback. The war might be over for him, but in a way, I am sure, deep down he is happy he can finally retire from it all.

It is always a freeing feeling to be away from toxic people and there were no better examples that those in the community who cast him out, despite his achievements.

Perhaps one day, I shall go into detail why the Vietnamese Community in Australia (Victoria) is such a toxic and poisonous chalice, but understand that it has a lot to do with the fact that many of its members are older generations Vietnamese, who had arrived to Australia with little in common with the host country. From English, to possessions, many Vietnamese people scrabbled to make a living, with many successfully doing so.

But the issue itself are the members within this community organisation, whose Anti-Communist rhetoric often falls upon deaf ears on the younger generation of children who are born with a foot in both worlds.

But then who can blame the children, whose very existence never knew the humidity of Vietnam’s jungles, nor the waters of the South China Seas. They can only imagine the world their parents describe, and then count themselves lucky to be born in a country that is technologically generations ahead of their parent’s homeland.

This inflammatory rhetoric only serves to alienate the two generations further. The feeling of isolation and the peculiar sense that time is running out to see their homeland free, causes many members to develop strong fundamentalist and patriotic views towards a country long deceased and forgotten in history; South Vietnam.

This ironically leads to many people, including the President himself, to copy and enforce rulings that are often seen in place at Communist parties.

From restrictions on language, silencing those who disagree, creating an atmosphere of fear, the community has long turned its back on nurturing the younger generation to take over and now exist as a shallow version of itself, focused only on pleasing the egos of the hardliners within.

It is without certain ironic amusement, that I note how my father have become an almost Trotsky-like figure, in which his critiques of the current administration are scathing and annoying. Then there are his loyal supporters, who range from young to old, a far cry from the current President’s popularity which only exists in a opportunistic, and controlling sense from the more old, ultra-nationalistic side.

Now with his banishment, engineered by a Stalinist-type ruler, I can only say that history often has a cruel sense of humour about how things play out.

Irony, upon irony … it’s often funny how no matter whether you are communist, or anti-communist, betrayals and political machinations have the same flavour anywhere and any time in history.

Doubtless my father will probably give me the biggest scolding, for comparing the current situation he finds himself, to the one of the founders of the Soviet Union, but that is the historical comparison I can best find off the top of my head.

But then, the current community itself, is as splintered and dangerous as the Soviets were in their formative years, so perhaps I am not too far off.

On a more personal note, I have decided to resign from the Lunar New Year Festival that has come to define so much of my personality and drive. There was a key moment for this decision.

Shortly, after my father was hospitalised, I wanted to prove something for myself. Such a faux trial scheme clearly took planning and a certain je ne sais quoi to pull off. I would admire it, if it wasn’t my father in the crosshairs.

But what had eluded me was the motive. Understandably, some people need no motive to see a man suffer, but in the case of the President I had to know why he had chosen to take such drastic action against his mentor and former brother-in-arms.

So I rang him. I decided that I would not be angry, nor emotional. I was completely civil, earnest and polite.

I started with a direct question, unwilling to tolerate any bullshit. After all, the trial was already 4 hours of bullshit that I was sick of hearing.

Why do you hate my dad?

The President was silent for a heartbeat, no doubt incredulous. He asked me to repeat my question.

OK, look, I want you to be completely honest with me. I can take it. I just want the truth.

Why do you hate my dad?

I don’t hate your dad! exclaimed the President.

OK fine. A bit of a harsh question, fair enough. Fine. Why do you dislike my dad then?

I don’t dislike your dad either! shot back the President.

Then what was the point of this whole thing today? There was no outcome, the entire thing was pointless. You …

He cuts me off indignantly, about how he didn’t say much, despite my own eyes witnessing him take the mic more than 20 times the entire session.

I cut him off again, and ask him why he was avoiding question. He replied with the statement

Look you’re being too emotional. I don’t think you’re in the right state of mind.

I scoff at the obvious statement. “A son has his father hospitalised and he’s emotional. Quite. Yet here I am, sensing you are the emotional one.” I think to myself before saying soothingly.

OK fine, you don’t dislike my dad. That was wrong of me to assume. If you don’t dislike my dad, then just tell me a couple of things you like about him then.

The President goes silent. In my own mind, I’m laughing at the ease of the checkmate.

Look, your dad and I are very different people. We don’t have to like or dislike one another to work together …. I

I cut him off. Political speak has always given me a bad case of allergies. I didn’t want him to exacerbate it further.

OK, I see how it is. You can’t tell me. It’s alright. Look, I just want to say that I am resigning from the TET Festival, effective immediately. You understand?

I …. OK.

I see how this is now. Thanks. Have a good night *click*

As I hung up, I knew that I made the right decision to call him. I wanted to prove without a doubt, that I was dealing with a man as slimy as I saw up in front of 100 other people. I was offering him an olive branch, a chance to see his morals, and how he would react under real pressure. After all, this is the son you are talking to, the son of a man you hospitalised. I wanted to see if the man was as phony behind closed doors as he was in public.

A villain would have snatched the opportunity to rub it in further. He would have laughed at my pain, and explained his motive. I hurt your dad, because he once stole a candy bar from me!

A hero would have tried to lessen the blow. I didn’t mean for it to go this far. I only did this because I believed your father was stopping our community from progressing.

The President of the Vietnamese Community in Victoria, was neither of those things.

Even in victory, he was a coward.

I can work for a villain or a hero. They have motives, purpose … reason.

But I can’t work for a coward.

A man who idly let everyone else do his dirty work? A guy who stands from afar at the mess he creates, letting others fight his battles? That’s not a leader, that’s a hyena. A pathetic scavenger.

A coward representing me? That goes against every single piece of military history, advice, and rule I hold dear in my heart.

So I quit.

Even now, I am still shocked at my decision to let go of a festival that I have bled for (literally), for nearly 7 years.

But I knew that I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I worked for a shitty boss. I am my own man for a reason.

And I’ll be damned if I let some spineless sonvuabitch throw me under the bus, much less be forced to have a conversation with that SOB lest my allergies crop up again.

The only issue is the team that have loyally helped and supported me over the years. They deserve to know everything and why I chose to quit and leave them alone finally for a year. I will make a solemn promise though to immediately call upon them and offer payment for services rendered when I am finally my own event manager. They are far too talented, skilled and studious to abandon to the whims of a madcap President.

After yesterday, there is definitely some bizarre trauma still etched upon my psyche. I have no doubt that I will get over it soon, judging from my own emotional performance yesterday, but like a scar, I will always look upon it and remember the circumstances that came with it.

But right now, it is not my mental well-being that needs help. It is my father’s.

If you are reading this, Dad, you should be aware of the Macchiavelli maxim.

Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.

I think you should be proud that everyone you ever met, always experienced what you really are.

~ Damocles.

The Well of Sorrow

Uzumaki – Junji Ito

Every so often, when I find myself stuck for ideas, I like to hold up a mirror to my face in the dark and stare.

The darkness that surrounds my face, magnifies what I really want to see … the darkness within, bubbling away on the surface of my subconscious.

The mirror is warped in my mind’s eye and all I can really see is the bizarre and twisted visage of me, when I am grieving, sad and self-destructive.

The Damocles that stares back is hideous to say the least. His eyes are completely black, with strange viscous liquid pouring from the corner of his eyes. His mouth is an endless void, devoid of teeth, the blackened lips opened in a soundless scream. The face of this Damocles is always desperate to tear itself free from the black void that surrounds it. There is always something that tears at him and he never seems to have the strength to free himself.

This is the Damocles that reminds me how to embrace the darkness within.

It is this version of myself that really gets me going and being creative again.

If you are asking why … that is a valid enough concern. I’m not a suicidal person. Nor do I consider myself depressed or particularly anxious.

Far from it … I’ve learnt to master a lot of those excessive emotional states when I was younger. Mostly through an extreme combination of rigorous mental deconstruction and egotistical arrogance.

Nowadays, I love myself too much to consider death, learnt to channel anxiety through a heightened sense of paranoia and observational awareness and gotten through depression by voiding and ignoring all thoughts of nihilism, in pursuit of personal glory.

What I believe though, is that this odd state is what happens, generally, to creative people when they are stuck. You need to be in a strange state in order to create. For me, it is staring deep inside and acknowledging the twisted version of myself.

I like putting myself in a state of fear, a strange paradox where the only thing I am truly afraid of … is myself.

If that sounds odd, then I would argue that within us all, is a bizarre desire to be self-destructive. Why else do we do extreme things to apparently feel something? Drinking, Gambling, Speeding, Toxic Relationships, Unhealthy Work-Life Balance … the list goes on.

In fact, I suspect the main reason why it is so difficult to remain healthy, in any period of history, is because we are always in a state of self-implosion. We always seem to be in a rush, always eager to do something rash and foolish, despite the dangers that our subconscious warns us about.

Take a good hard look at yourself, and wonder … why do you do the things you do? Beyond money … is there a real purpose behind your work? Your life? Your daily choices?

It is out of nihilism that you find purpose and meaning to defy the treacherous arms of that type of thinking.

This is why I choose to fear myself, above everything else. By putting myself in that state … I can find meaning and purpose and ideas.

Out of the void, comes light.

What is difficult for me though, is maintaining the right balance of dark and light. I can’t draw too much from this Well of Sorrow lest it consumes me and push me onto a path I don’t want to travel down.

After all, a big reason why people are afflicted with so much mental problems is because they continue to draw from their own personal Well and drink so much of it, that it clouds their thinking, causing them to lose purpose and drive.

It is all too easy to lose sight of oneself, when you are always in a state of drowning.

Bathe if you must, but never submerge yourself.

I used to wallow in my own Well. As an angry, despondent and purposeless man, this seemed like the best mental state to be in. Nothing mattered, little things would cause anger and resentment and I couldn’t laugh at myself, arguably the biggest sin of them all. I took everything with a seriousness it didn’t deserve, and would lash out frequently at friends, family, and strangers.

This is what happens when you indulge in the Well too much. Your ego becomes fragile, your confidence disappears, and anxiety, not awareness, turns into paranoia and self-sabotage.

You blame the world for your problems, not realising that your choice to drink from the poisoned chalice is what is truly causing everything to go wrong.

So why is it addicting? Why do I need it to be creative?

It is addicting, because it is so easy. Life seems easier knowing that you have nothing to do with it, you don’t contribute, you don’t participate nor engage with life. Nothing matters, says your twisted mind …

How wrong that all is. Of course things matter. Your health matter, your self belongs somewhere and you have value. You just need to create and become something you know you can be. You need to find work that fulfil and sustains you, your lifestyle and your health.

You just need to learn how to enjoy life. Let the money flow, the good times roll, and your body relax.

There needs to be a lovely cycle, where you work strenuously and efficiently, hard and well … so that when the end of the week, when you relax and actually enjoy a good meal, a drink and a pastime, it all feels worth it.

Learning to appreciate finer food, after dieting for a week, is a great way to recover your mental energy.

But life isn’t always perfect like that. Sometimes, I get this incredibly annoying sensation that I am not doing enough. This bereft feeling will drive me insane until I have this urge to write.

However, what do I write about? How do I enter my flow state, where words, mind, paper and pen become one? Only by indulging in the Well of Sorrow, by having a small drink, do I unlock my ability to write semi-well.

But that is the thing about the Well, every time I drink from it, I feel vaguely disgusted with myself. There is a strange symbiotic relationship that I have with the darker version of myself. It is almost parasitic even.

I do wish I could be frequently creative and able to enter the flow state at a whim without resorting to the Well of Sorrow, because whenever I do drink from it, it always seem to take a lot out of me at once. I can’t sleep, I don’t eat properly and there is only the insane desire to write.

This isn’t healthy nor conducive to my full-time work nor my overall health.

I especially wish I could use my creative ability under pressure. There are only rare occasions when I have to use my writing ability under the clock, but every time I am left with a piece of work that is disappointing and poorly written. I truly and honestly, wish I could be more workmanlike with my skill, as would make life a lot easier.

Especially when it comes to something fun, like the 48HR Film Project, which is a fun challenge that my friends and I like to do. But every time I am under that type of pressure to write a screenplay or a script, everything seems to fall apart, much to my dismay and annoyance.

I suppose that is why this blog is so eclectic in its content. Only when I am soul-searching like I am now, or gripped in the vices of the Well of Sorrow do you see new writing appear.

I just hope one day I can put that Well to rest and find some new ways to inspire me to create.

~ Damocles.

Hell Week …. Embracing the Suck

Drown-proofing.

This week, I’ve finally experienced some form of burn-out at work.

May has started with a weariness I didn’t expect, especially after the high of the end of April. This week, from the 3rd to the 9th has been one of bizarre lethargic shifts, lack of athletic prowess and a low-energy vibe running throughout the entire experience.

My lack of fighting spirit resulted in multiple days where time seemed to stretch on forever, and even now as I write during my shift, on Mother’s Day, this 4 hour stint at work has dragged on for what seems like infinity. I suspect if I die and am sent to hell, and I’m not a very religious guy, my personal hell would designed around a sheer lack of speed and efficiency. I would go mad with insanity at the pace in which life seem to drag on forever.

But let’s avoid giving the ruler of the underworld any more ideas.

This week has served as a crucial reminder to me to get a move on with my life. The conditions at my retail store has deteriorated to such a level, that I am now desperate to quit, instead of sticking around for longer.

It all started on Monday, when out of the blue, without any real warning, there was a call to consolidate stock across the entirety of Victoria and relocate excess stock found in one store to another lacking it.

This meant that I, on my own, had to pack over 100 different SKUs (stock keeping unit) into boxes and have them individually sorted for 13 different stocks across Victoria.

I was given until the EOD (End of Day) Tuesday to accomplish this task.

24 hours. Solo. 7 hours per shift, and still having to serve customers, up-sell, get membership and tell customers about promotions.

I was not given any extra help, because my staff were unable to come in on such short notice and that is not how my company operates.

They took items away from my store, that I knew would sell and boost my sales numbers if they had stayed. Now, instead of being a highly productive and profitable store, it would suffer due to the lack of stock. They had leveled the playing field, so that instead of several good stores, we were now all equally shit.

I was livid.

They were asking the impossible, demanding the ridiculous and cavalier with their care for staff. I knew my area manager would never order such an unreasonable request. It had to be higher up.

I immediately voiced my complaint to her in the weekly meeting. She was diplomatic and hinted that it was upper management’s fault.

I gave a very strongly worded complaint to the head of HR. It was ignored for 2 days before they came back to me. The answer was corporate bullshit, barely apologetic and served only to irritate me further.

I ended up pushing my physical limits in my shift of Tuesday to finish the job. EOD Tuesday meant that surely they would pick up the huge stack of boxes I had made by that very night right? What was the point of putting such a ridiculous deadline if it wasn’t urgent?

To my incredulity, they didn’t bother to pick it up until Thursday evening. I was extremely unhappy. I talked shit about the company to my group of friends I had made. I complained and whinged to other managers. One of them was sympathetic and had been vocal in her defence of her staff. The answers she received back showed her the true colours of upper management.

“We don’t care about the morale of your staff. My boss told me to get it done and so now I’m telling you to do it.”

She was so shocked and embittered that she decided to hand in her resignation. They didn’t even thank her properly. Just wished her well on whatever next journey she would take on.

She is the manager of one of the flagship stores in Melbourne. An invaluable asset. An incredibly hard worker, with the ability to turn any store around into something special. She had inherited the flagship store when it was in utter shambles and doing remarkably poorly. It was she who stabilised it, molded it into something neater, fuller and more profitable.

She was let go without a second’s thought. As if, someone of her experience and work ethic would just come along and take over her role with ease.

I couldn’t believe it. This was bordering on the ludicrous. Verging on the very edge of lunacy.

This corpo style of swapping out people like tools was like an anathema to me. In all my years of being a leader, I had always prided myself on looking after my people. I would treat all my volunteers, from newbies to veterans, with all the same care and loyalty. I liked to inspire people to follow me.

I didn’t see them as tools. I saw them as important friends and people that helped me achieve something special. I would never swap them out if they didn’t want to quit. If they left, I would say no hard feelings and accept it. If they stayed, I would reward them and make sure I looked after them.

My retail store offered neither of these experiences.

All these revelations occurred on Wednesday as I walked around the store, oddly despondent and lackadaisical. It was like a getting hit with a emotional hammer. I had kind of enjoyed my new role as a manager. It was difficult and tough, but I thought I was doing alright and that the company kind of had my back, despite the hardships.

I couldn’t be more wrong. Even worse, the flagship manager actually used to run my store that I had inherited. Upper management, upon hearing I was willing to accept the role, had forced her to move onto the current flagship store. She didn’t have a say in the matter.

To dump guilt atop of the righteous anger I felt … honestly broke something inside of me. I thought she was willing to move, that she was ready for an upgrade to something with even more responsibility. But now, it turned out, I had forced her aside and now she was quitting …

The shame I felt, lasted throughout this entire week. It threw me off my usual exercise routine, off my athletic ability in my weekly friendly game of badminton, off my diet and off my overall energy levels.

Only this part of me, the writer inside, continues to be strong, channeling all my emotional distress into something creative and therapeutic.

To top this entire shitty week off, my obsession with Formula 1 races was ruined by a man who keeps on winning and dominating the sport, in a dominating car and whom the world keep singing praises of constantly.

Having said all of this though, I do feel a bit better. The major lesson I’ve learnt from all of this horribleness is that I need to get a move on and finding a job in the events industry which is where I want to stay for the rest of my life and career.

It is in events that I became something of a leader and innovator, and where I can really help my friends and raise them up with me.

I cannot wait to quit this damn job in a couple of months and wash my hands of this terrible management style.

Somehow, no matter the job, I will always be displeased with someone from up high giving me orders.

Perhaps I really do have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

I will always be the odd one out and disobedient and vindictive towards authority.

Associate it with arrogance … define it as defiance … name it non-compliant .. hell, indicate it as insubordination but I’d rather go down swinging than blindly obey orders.

Especially when they don’t make sense and they come from a person who I don’t respect.

I’m a recalcitrant sonvuabitch … and I’ll die that way, being a pain in the ass than meekly accepting my fate.

I’ll take the whole world on, if I think it is wrong.

That is the only way I can come to term with how much things suck. By being headstrong and unruly.

I’ve been here long enough … it’s time to make a move and get the hell out of Dodge.

~ Damocles

Reflections on a Quarter of 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am greedy for life.

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

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

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

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

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

I want to be a better conversationalist.

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

I even want to get better at singing and dancing.

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

That gives me 2 years to achieve everything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying lean and mean ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Damocles

An Eventful Return ….

Brewers Feast 2021 – Abbotsford, Melbourne.

Yesterday, straight after work, I ended up being a volunteer at a festival. Something I haven’t done in over a year now.

I have forgotten how thankless, tiring and draining event work is. No one really appreciates the effort that goes into making an event come to life. But that is the song of chaos and control you must dance to as the event organiser.

It was also a blast to be back.

All the usual hectic activity was happening. When an event is underway and the initial set up is complete, it is a breeze. All you need to do is ensure the program runs smoothly and every single person is aware of their duties. The event essentially runs itself. There is no need to be running around.

Instead you rest, relax a bit and soak in the atmosphere you’ve created over many painstaking months. You chat to patrons, volunteers and rub shoulders with the band.

My volunteer shift started with the shitty job. The part of the festival that is never fun and involves a lot of frustrated and tired people: bumping out.

I knew exactly why my tutor (the general manager for the Brewer’s Festival) put me on for the bump out. He was aware of my experience in the past in dealing with festivals and in particular, angry stall holders.

So he made me the gatekeeper. The first man to be yelled at and assaulted by sponsors, food vendors and tired festival workers.

I had honestly forgotten how you can get the biggest spectrum of reactions from people. You can always tell who did the worst at the event and the ones who were successful. You can also always tell those who just want to get the hell out of there, safety and people be damned and others who are understanding and know the realistic situation everyone is in.

Those who pull rank on me, I despise. “I talked to Trevor! (not my tutor’s real name) He SAID that I can come in and do this, in front of these people here. I don’t care what others are loading, they’re not loading a 1.6 ton cart onto a trailer with 6 people. Why can’t you just let me in?” whined the ice-cream man who clearly made something of a loss.

Then I’ll get other responses like “Hey mate, all good man. I get it. I don’t mind waiting. You got a pretty good job though hey?” the relaxed cider guy would say with a sarcastic smirk.

Finally, the last typical response would be “Ahhh shit. Not much you can do right? Alright mate. Keep me posted” the tired whiskey man would say with a deep sigh.

Customer service skills, are something I still need to work on. It’s not easy, stroking the egos of so many different types of people and making them all happy. But then I will confess that I have always struggled when I am a “volunteer”, unsure of how much authority I am allowed to stamp out. As the boss of my own festival, I know that I am a firmer character and stick less to the rules. I am more flexible, relaxed, preferring the “rule of the jungle” than trying to impose any sensibility into a chaotic time, like bumping out.

“First come, first served” is more my style, as it takes the blame out of the organisers and there is more competition between the stall holders to see who can get to their stall first. I can direct traffic better this way, than being more rigid and sticking to a time slot.

But that is not the rules of engagement I was handed with and so I had to be a dutiful soldier and follow orders. I still ended up being a bit flexible in who I let in, but it was within reason and I think the bump out process went as smoothly as it could have.

I struck multiple deals though. Promising to help this stall out, by carrying half their load up a small hill. Reassuring another lady that she would get through soon, after this guy sorted his stuff out.

I only ended up fulfilling half of them. But that is the nature of the chaos that always descend during bump out.

I must say, overall, it was fun to be working amongst hard-toiling volunteers. There is a camaraderie that is struck up so quickly and naturally, and despite being amongst complete strangers, it was fun to share a bit of banter and work.

I stuck to my usual default “silent & strong” mode, chiming in only with a quip or offer for help, the words of eternal wisdom: “better to be silent and be thought of as a fool, than to open your mouth and prove them correct” echoing strongly in my mind as I kept working.

I was also curious to find out that I was still the best equipped volunteer there, my faithful companion of many years, the Pelican flashlight proving to be an invaluable asset as night fell over the venue, as well as the Mechanix Cut gloves I always pack in my EDC (Every Day Carry) bag. I would be remiss to not mention my other faithful friend, the Leatherman Skeletool multitool that honestly …. I have lost count the number of times I have used it at events and aorund in life.

I guess my atypical mentality of being “over-prepared” for everything does pay dividends in the long run.

Another strange piece of reflection I had during the bump out, was seeing my trusty combat boots finally get dirty. I had worn these for so long, just as casual piece of footwear, only to now truly see them in their element, keeping my feet comfortable, moving and stable over gravel, wet grass, patches of mud and endless ice from endless beer … it made me grateful I am always seeking the best the military has to offer and buying them for my own use.

It made me happy to see my investments enabling me to work harder and longer without discomfort. I enjoy bringing tools, gear and kit to environments and really testing them and seeing how I can work more efficiently with them.

A point of pride for me, was the fact that my stamina and strength had increased since the last time I was at an event. I covered a surprising 12.5km yesterday, just from walking around at work and at the festival and I felt physically OK at the end of it all. The B30 Challenge and my fixation with tennis paying off.

Overall, the Brewer’s Feast was a good event to attend, even if I was only there briefly. I was astonished at how long people spent there and how everything had a very cosy atmosphere. Despite the amount of alcohol that was flowing, there were very little need for security to step in, and there truly was a family friendly vibe about the entire event. I couldn’t believe how many vendors attended and took the opportunity to showcase their unique alcoholic blends. I liked the layout, the staff, and the vibe.

It wasn’t hard to see why this event had been running for 5 years and still saw massive attendance, even in the twilight hours of a Sunday.

It was just … nice to be at an event again, running around, being busy, physically and mentally and using all my tools again.

The Brewer’s Feast was a reminder that this is truly the industry I want to work in and that while I nearly missed the start of the MotoGP & F1 because I had rush home, and that my dinner consisted of slightly stale McDonalds nuggets … I wouldn’t trade attending a good festival for all the hardships in the world.

The best thing too, was that the night was topped off with an awesome race in Imola by the F1 fraternity.

~ Damocles.