The Sun’s White Shimmer

I’ve never seen the sun so big; its edges so well defined. I know I should not stare and yet I cannot look away. It’s obvious orange glow becomes less so the more I examine its now white shimmering surface. My eyes are temporarily relieved as it disappears behind the thin row of clouds floating an inch above the horizon. No where else that I look is there a cloud that can be seen.

I cannot recall such beauty as this. The air is still. Not cold. Perfect. The ambiance complemented by the endless queue of waves surging toward me to meet their journey’s end. As those around me unconsciously reach for their phones to capture this moment, I resist, instead reaching for my pen.

I do my best to describe what it is I am witnessing. I seek not to take the easy way out by capturing a picture that will quickly become lost among the many others crammed into my phone’s silicone fibers. I try and observe each detail. I try to become present and connected to all that is happening. Though in this I realise how much more practice is required.

As I conclude these sentences and prepare to now enter the no doubt icy water, life begins to feel just that little bit easier. I realise the moment’s beauty. And I am not waiting for to be notified of the views or likes on my Instagram or Facebook accounts.

I feel free. Even if just for this moment.

 

PJ.

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Midnight Musings

1.

Isn’t it crazy how you can be on a beach with thousands of people and still feel completely alone.

2.

I swim so far out to escape the feeling; to escape the noise. I cannot shake this feeling; the feeling of disconnection; the sick feeling in my stomach lingering into permanence it seems. No.

3.

How do you be yourself when the whole world is telling you to be anything but?

4.

I am so anxious because  I am so far from my core purpose. Not in what I do but in why I do it. I am living a lie; I am living to the world’s expectations. No wonder.

5.

Do not focus so much on what you do as you do on why you do it.

6.

I convince myself I have failed. The truth is, I haven’t even begun.

7.

I was once a boy who dreamed of owning a Ferrari by the age of twenty. What I didn’t realise is that the Ferrari was just a symbol; a symbol of freedom; a symbol of, ‘I can do whatever I want’. I still want that Ferrari only now it looks different; now it looks more like the freedom to travel, to connect, to share and to inspire.

8.

I feel the wind blow. I close my eyes and imagine I am the wind.

9.

I believe, yes, but I do not understand.

10.

If only I knew how to tell you.

11.

Who am I, really?

– – –

PJ.

The Great Light

Darkness is but a beginning. For both you and I were born from darkness’ womb. And all that we have come to love and cherish found its genesis in the dark abyss with which we are surrounded. Even the might of Orion and bright shining light of Sirius were once just universal nomads that sped to meet our upward gaze; their place-card on the ceiling of life for many years held only by the omnipresent. And it was from this apparently hopeless hope that came these marvelous lights we doubted could ever exist.

Think then for a moment: Brighter lights must too be on their way.

So I say to us both. In this time of our own apparent darkness, we must take heart in this knowledge. For just as yet more symbols of everlasting hope are carried to us upon the wings of a galaxy afar, we must not forget its’ Siamese counterpart travelling back in collaborate harmony. This being of course a great light second only to One – you and I.

PJ.

Originally published on Greatness Via Passion, November 9th 2015.

I Believe I Can Fly, Almost.

After three snoozes of my KLOCKIS (I believe that is Swedish for ‘multi-purpose alarm clock with colourful backlight’), I rose this morning to assess the day’s weather.

It was cloudy. But the sun had done well to penetrate and colourfully illuminate the layer of Altostratus; the sky’s paddle-pop palette whetting my appetite for tranquillity of thought and a day of deep meditation.

I am lucky to have such a view to enjoy. To my right, the populous hills surrounding Randwick; behind which a constant stream of planes take off, landing gear still retracting, each banking sharply in my direction.

To my left, a virtually uninterrupted view across the tree tops and flats adjacent, to the ocean not a kilometre away. The water appears calmer than previous days; the waves now ripples; their white turbulent peaks buried deep once again.

The air this morning is fresh. But not too fresh that would require me to put clothes on… I stretch my arms into the air and inhale deeply as three birds lost in schizophrenic flight chase one another past my nose in celebration of the morning’s glory.

I am no morning person but surely there is no peaceful a time as now? I pause for a moment to express my gratitude. Then, I open my eyes, returning my gaze to what surrounds. As ever, I search each inanimate object for deep philosophical meaning. Because I like to feel normal…

But today’s deep metaphorical insight comes not from a tree or a passing cloud but from the trio of Rainbow Lorikeets playfully dancing on the ledge of our neighbour’s balcony. I observe them hopping along. It seems that when you’re a bird, walking is pretty, err, lame.

I think to myself how scared I would be if I too were boisterously parading on such precarious ledges. At six-foot-three a fall from such a height would likely result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and months of rehabilitation. Though if I were just fourteen inches tall with toothpicks for bones…

I ponder the meaning contained within and pose the question:

Would we still be afraid of falling if we knew we could fly?

Surely not. For in my travels so far, I am yet to come across a basophobic bird. Nor has one stopped me to ask, ‘What is my purpose here?’. Putting aside the obvious communication difficulties of course…

But I must ask again: Would we still be afraid of falling if we knew we could fly?

Maybe we can fly after all? Maybe we just haven’t figured it out yet? Or maybe, and far more likely, flying for us means something completely different.

And yet in both cases, we are separated by the same thing: A leap of faith.

PJ.

The Happiest Bike Ride

There has been much that has happened recently; many reminders to let go and allow.

First, there was that argument with my best mate a few months ago; we shouted back and forth; I maintained my assertion that in order to achieve we must fight. It cannot simply happen. What good does it do to sit back and idly wait for our hopes and dreams to magically materialise? He did not share my viewpoint.

Then there was that chance encounter with the girl at the mall; a colleague of my house mate. Though just a little strange, intuition told me that this girl was going to play an important role in my life, however big or small. We caught up for coffee in the week that followed and again for a beer a week later. The point was the same: Stop fighting, let go, and allow it to come.

Then that time in the shower; I was there in body though not in mind. Rather, my mind continued to ponder my life’s impending financial collapse. I stood there until the water went cold, at which point I returned to the present and remembered some of these lessons from the weeks preceding. I took a deep breath, listened to the sound of the water, and let go.

I arrived back in my room to notice an email from my agent (not as fancy as it sounds). Earlier in the year she had cast me for a Qantas TV commercial. I had been wondering why I had not heard from her recently though was forgetting I had told her not to contact me until I had finished my studies in December – it was September. The job was worth $2,500! Precisely what I needed to escape my predicament.

I went to the casting the following day, was shortlisted, but didn’t end up getting the role. It didn’t matter though; I understood the lesson contained within. And whilst the $2,500 would have looked far nicer in my bank account than whoever else’s, a series of extra shifts at work, the perfectly timed sale of my car and many other fortuitous events and encounters have allowed me to continue my adventures without going hungry.

Somehow it all just keeps adding up.

Then there is that colleague of mine, a shining beacon of [seemingly] endless hope and positivity. Many wonder why so many good things continue to happen to her; she does not allow a setback to distract her focus; she does not place adverse pressure on herself to achieve; fueled by grace and a persistent smile she humbly follows the direction of life.

In this there are still more lessons for me to learn.

– – –

Whilst we determine our course, life will determine the necessary steps.

– – –

As I exited the bus last night, the rain’s intensity increasing, I thought it an ideal time for there to be an unlocked rental bike laying around to accelerate my commute home. I gave it no further thought. Then, twenty meters into my journey, I look to my right and could not help but laugh.

It was the happiest bike ride of my life.

– – –

PJ.

Let It Begin

Today is the 1st of December meaning that today is the first day of Summer! A fitting day to re-commence my writing given the title of my last post!

I have been planning a return to this blog for a while. My drafts folder has grown ever larger as questions pertaining to the quality of my work [and my abilities as a writer] have clouded my confidence.

Self-doubt. What a bitch.

But as I have continued to wonder what 2018 [and my life] have in store for me, I have continued to write. Every day I sit at a cafe, or on the bus, and fill pages and pages and pages in my journal[s] with thoughts and ideas.

It’s simple, really. Writing makes me happy.

It is not just the content nor freedom of thought, it is the way the sounds and syllables combine and contrast to form intricate webs of literature so lush that suitably delights my soul. For me, it is even the feel of the pen as it graces the fibers of each page; the disconnect between my mind and my hand as I watch in awe as the shapes of the letters and words beautify the English language yet more.

I’ve known for a long time that I am meant to write. It is what I feel good at. And it is definitely what I enjoy the most. The frustration I feel when I cannot find the right word, am unable to articulate the right metaphor or fail to identify a third example to satisfy the flow of a sentence (like now), is perhaps evidence of my desire to become better and to really make this my jam.

Though isn’t this the scariest thing? To pursue the thing that could really be our jam? It is so easy to leave it on a pedestal for the rest of our life; to keep it in that comfortable place of ‘I could do that if I wanted to…’. It makes sense too. If all of our other pursuits in life fail there is always ‘that’…

– – –

Before writing here again, I have been waiting for ‘the right time’. To start this new chapter could have been met with more delays. I could have waited until my birthday in three weeks, my 25th Birthday. Surely this would have been an adequate enough milestone to pull my finger out and pursue that which truly means something to me? Or what about the beginning of the New Year? Cliche, yes, but justified. Or perhaps May the 28th? The day that all of my adventures began six years ago? That would have really made sense! No, I’ve got it… August the 10th! The day I fought back from the clutches of suicidal depression and returned to the UK in 2014 to achieve what I said I was going to exactly a year before? Surely that fits best with this renewed feeling of vim and vigour?

Or, if none of these, than surely to begin on my birthday next year, the 26th anniversary of my arrival, would make little sense. So, I guess I would then have to wait until my 30th? Because that seems logical… But supposing I was not ready then either, well, I guess I would then have to start on ‘Monday’, like everyone else.

– – –

Behind these pixels are commitments that I have made to myself for the upcoming year. Over the coming months you will observe the result of these. In many ways I am scared to witness the result of these decisions. I will be putting myself out there; embracing vulnerability; making friends with fear. And yet I know that it is what I must do.

– – –

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet still they are fed. Are we not much more valuable than they? Who of us by worrying can add a single hour to our life?”

– – –

On the 22nd of October I wrote in my journal the following:

“The future you seek is not as far away as you might think.

“Harness that vision and make it your reality.

“Be definitive in the steps and decisions you take.

“It goes beyond mere belief now; the time has come to act.

“You are not alone.”

– – –

And so, with this in mind, let it begin.

PJ.

The Blues Behind The Insta-Blues

If you didn’t know any better, and you happened to look at my Instagram feed, you would likely think that where I lived was a magical place in which the sun always shined, the skies were always blue and the water was forever the most alluring shade of turquoise.

Sure, I’m very lucky to live where I do but the notion that this is always the case is simply not true.

The truth is, my Instagram feed is carefully curated and one twenty minute walk to get coffee on a bright sunny day could give me enough content for many weeks worth of posts. What this creates however is the impression that things are always fucking perfect.

Incorrect.

If you’re a long time reader of mine you might remember a post on my old website that discussed the illusion we can create through social media. It’s so easy to do. And so easy to hide behind the fantastical perception it portrays of our reality. Often though, it can be the furthest thing from our reality.

I promised in a blog earlier this year that I would share my story with honesty, transparency and authenticity. And whilst, like many of us, I am not willing to give up the harmonious colour palette of my Insta-feed, I am willing to break down to you what’s really behind many of these snapshots into my life.

Let’s say you see this photo of mine…

Blue Skies

…looks great right?!

Sure. And it is!

But even on such a gloriously sunny day still there are times in which I don’t feel anything. I feel tired for no reason. Simple conversations with people or friends becomes the hardest thing in the world to do. The thought of going to the gym no longer seems one that I am willing to act on. And, even when I do, I will get there only to stare into blank space for twenty-five minutes after my first set of bench press and wonder the hell why my body feels so lethargic and unwilling to give a fuck.

I have many days like this. Today is one of them. Yesterday was too. Though often it’s easier just to edit a photo of the Bronte swimming pool or Coogee Beach with the classic heart eye emoji as the caption, followed by twenty-seven thousand generic hashtags, than to try and understand and to talk about why on such a sunny day I am feeling so grey.

But, of course, this does little good.

This is one of the reasons why I love to write so much. To me, writing is freedom. No rules. Just pure expression. It makes me happy. And if by sharing some of these thoughts I can help someone else out there; help them to understand that they’re not alone in the way they’re feeling, than even better.

I promised you honesty, transparency and authenticity, so here it is. Today might be tough, yes, but tomorrow gives birth to new opportunities and a new chance to do something great. Whether the sun is shining or not, I’m ready.

Truth.

PJ.

Story Time: Twelve Months Ago Today

There are much deeper questions woven into what I am about to write. Much deeper questions that involve our origin and greater forces at play. And yet, what I have chosen to guide my focus delves not into such fantastical philosophy but rather the fortuitous memory of rather a challenging time.

— — —

One beer, two beers, now three. I look across at her and feel the energy and enthusiasm cast upon me. My dreams no longer dreams instead burgeoning realities. The fjord that had long since divided the two no longer impassable. Not that it ever was, really.

There are those conversations we have in life; those conversations in which the many dots in our life that once carved their own solitary pursuits become one. Tonight was one of those moments.

We talked and talked and the food kept coming. We spoke about life and about love. And businesses that could change the world. We spoke about ‘The Secret’ and the law of attraction. Synchronicity in thought and in desire. We spoke about the tough times and the many struggles we have both faced. And then it dawned on me…

On this day, 365 days ago, I was discharged from hospital. Three days earlier I had admitted myself. I was scared for my life. I could no longer trust myself in my own company.

Those three days were a strange three days. Of course I will say that I did not belong. I did not want to be there. In fact, I wanted to leave before even being admitted. One night in the emergency ward seemed enough of an aid.

There was however the doctor that convinced me to stay. And the nurse who slid some tablets my way. The decision was somehow made. And eight hours later I woke up in my room. It was grey and empty; the door resembling something more from a prison cell than a hospital ward.

There were four others with whom I shared this ward. It took me a day and a half to talk to any of them. I wasn’t there to talk. Not to them. I was scared. It was all so weird. And yet still part of me wanted to understand their stories and how they too came to be staying here. Of course this was not possible. And my journal to record such stories I had left at home.

The jigsaw puzzle, the literal one, left unfinished on the dining table would become my legacy. Between attempts at its completion I would nap on the couch and watch a movie or three. The world around me seemed a monochromatic and dull affair. The food was bland. Though I don’t think I was able to taste much at the time anyway.

I would endure the daily psychology sessions. No great revelations here. I could only think about the day I was free from these suffocating confines. Time was tight too, I was meant to fly to Perth for my sister’s wedding later that week. And my parents were yet to know of my whereabouts.

I negotiated my release and finally set foot back into the outside world once more. I arrived at my car and noticed two parking fines. Not a great start. But nothing a medical certificate and a heartfelt story couldn’t get me out of.

I returned home and fell to my bedroom floor. How had all of this happened? I packed my bags for my trip west that night and drifted off into a comfortable sleep. The morning dawned, my Uber arrived and to the airport I set off.

As VA551 spread its wings and took flight, I reclined my seat and pulled out the journal that had been a much needed though missing companion these past days. For three hours I wrote and wrote, filling more than seventy pages.

We landed at last and I navigated my way to the pick up point. Dad arrived and I sat down in his rental with a feeling of relief. I felt safe. At home. He asked, ‘How are you?’.

Now I had to spill the beans.

It was a strange journey to meet the rest of my family in which we shared the most open and honest conversation we have ever had. It began a re-birth of sorts. A reminder that things were okay. That family was the important thing. And that despite the relationship heartache I was transiting in Sydney at the time, I was loved. Unconditionally.

— — —

This was precisely a year ago now. It seems to have passed far quicker than the six months that preceded that horrible week.

I am proud of myself for what I did. To realise that my health and safety were far more important than my pride and ego. And now I understand that what I feared the most was not so bad after all; that if things were ever to get to that point again, I do not need to be scared, because I know of all the beautiful people who are there to help.

Still there are days in which my anxiety feels crippling. And silly thoughts tempt my focus. But I have vowed never to return to such a place of despair. I have committed myself instead to focused pursuits of the positives and towards my potential.

What I have found in making this commitment is that when times become tough my focus no longer drifts to that place of toxic thought but rather to a place that seeks only to find a way. It’s harder some days than others. But that’s okay.

I’ve proven a lot to myself these past twelve months. And moments like last night provide valuable reminders that I am, in fact, a fucking champion. But only with the help and support of my team.

Much love to all.

PJ.

The end of evangelism?

Easter: A time of love, hope, forgiveness and new beginnings. Whether your life philosophy originates from theistic or anti-theistic foundations, the Easter Spirit is one that we can all embrace.
 
There is little need for ongoing religious debate. Surely this only reinforces societal divides. Simply, my beliefs are my beliefs. Your beliefs are your beliefs. Both have come to be through a complex chain of events that is, for the most part, impossible to explain and to be understood.
 
We must simply choose to accept one another and to learn from one another; seeking to create a society that is built upon the best bits from all ideologies and not to discount the beneficial merely for its religious origin.
 
There is no right and wrong. Only what is right and wrong for you and I. Surely the time has now come in which we must cease fighting and forcing our opinions on each other; the time has come in which we must simply love one another.
 
This sense of growing religious stigma is as frustrating as it is destructive. None of us should be defined by what we believe. We should only be defined by how we act, how we treat other people and how we love other people.
 
There are those that exist within religious communities who fuel enormous misconceptions. Broad generalisations are subsequently made and many lessons of love, hope and forgiveness left to rot by the wayside, lost in the rubble of selfish terror.
 
What is the point of this?
 
There are fools who exist on both sides of the religious divide. And yet we are fine to call the atheist fools what they are without going on to label every member of the anti-theistic community with the same label.
 
How can we not see what we are doing here?
 
I write this as a young man with thought origins of Christian foundation. I grew up in a Christian home, I attended a Christian school, I try to attend church as often as I can and I pray every day, giving thanks for the blessings that come into my life. Personally, this adds great value to my life.
 
My beliefs are not founded from what I read in a book. They are founded through real life experience. They are founded in the moments of my life in which I was alone, lost and hurting. In these moments I prayed, calling out for the strength needed to endure such struggles. I believed. I persevered. And hope was revealed and the strength needed provided.
 
This is where I found my faith.
 
And whilst I say this, my faith strong, I acknowledge that the universal embodiment of ‘my belief’ is not the way forward. There are lessons I seek to learn from all cultures, all religions and all life philosophies.
 
The way forward I believe to be through universal understanding of all ideologies. The way forward I believe to be through open conversations with those of differing belief systems; conversations in which we seek not to argue but simply to understand; conversations in which we can walk away content with the knowledge we have gained rather than angry having failed to convince them of our belief.
 
We must not be afraid to have such conversations. We must not be afraid to engage with those who might not agree with us or share our thoughts. This fear being most counter-productive.
 
I am excited to be making plans for my life in which my adventures will enable me to learn many of these crucial lessons. And I hope to be able to share some of these with the world so that we may garner a more holistic understanding of humanity’s binding purpose.
 
Religion, I believe, has now grown to become an enormous obstacle in the way of the advancement and prosperity of the human race. I believe if religion stands in the way of any member of our human family receiving love, respect and equal opportunity, then we as a religious community have failed.
 
Times like these, symbolic of love, hope, forgiveness and new beginnings, must serve as such a reminder. We are not here to force opinion. We are here to serve. It is not about us, it is about one another. Love is selfless, remember.
 
Religious or not, this is something we must all remember.
 
Happy Easter!
 
PJ.

Introducing My Family

An accident?

No, a gift!

I don’t much like the thought of being labelled an accident. Yes, seven years do separate my older brother and I. A further two separate me from my sister.

Yes, I’m very much the youngest. Apparently I’m spoiled. But, naturally, I  would disagree…

I’ve been flying solo these past five years or so. Doing my own thing. Carving my own niche into the world. Meanwhile, my brother and sister have been doing theirs. Out of sight.

We’ll speak every few months. Nothing too in depth. And so it is true that their friends probably know them both better than I do.

Late last year I traveled from Sydney to Perth and back up to Brisbane, attending each of their weddings.

At both I listened to some amazing stories. Stories outlining their character, their resilience and their drive. Both have overcome their own individual struggles, as have I, and yet I could not contain my wonder when listening to the inspiring nature of their lives; the powerful impact they have made in the lives around them.

I once had a friend who described my family as a family of ‘superheros’.

My Dad was a police officer for forty odd years; my Mum a nurse for just as long. My brother is a school teacher/chaplain and my sister works in the space of mental health and drug rehabilitation whilst studying to complete her Bachelor in Social Work.

We are a family of helpers.

A family just doing our bit.

I think it is fair to say that none of us know to do any different. We know no better than to use the hardship we face to make things better. Not just for ourselves, but more importantly for others.

I never quite realised the influence my family has had on my life and my drive to make a positive impact in the world. I thought this intrinsic motivation developed independently. But the connection surely cannot be ignored.

As a writer with unrelenting dreams of exploration and travel, the apparent contrast between my path and theirs I’m sure will only continue to grow more so. And yet our drive to do good, to make good, to make better, will remain interconnected.

Why?

Because we are family. This is who we are.

I am as proud as I am grateful to be a part of our tribe.

Much love.

PJ.