And So It Snows

Last night offered me only 3 hours sleep. The Snow Season is late but is now ON! In less than 24 hours now I am on my way up to Falls Creek (the snow resort) and I don’t come back.

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It’s enlightening to look back at my journey so far. There are so many societal expectations that I have been trying (successfully) to fulfill for such a long time and there are others that I have more quietly completely flunked on. But up until now, I have never really been happy. Of course there have been good days and there are memories that I hold fondly, but if I were to step back and look at my life as a whole, it was never going in a direction that I wanted it to. It has been going in a direction that I felt was expected of me.

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen with the rest of my life, but I have learned many very important lessons recently. Mainly that there is no point doing something if we don’t enjoy doing it. Secondly, stuff what people think we are meant to do, the only person that can decide on what is best for you is you. There is nothing that we are meant to do. All I choose to do now is keep myself happy and surround myself with good people. I don’t have space left in my life for negativity.

Being happy does not mean life comes without it’s stresses. For the most part I have found a profound peace recently, but anxiety still lingers, every now and then it pops up and I find a sleepless night. Will I run out of money? Will my choice of lifestyle be sustainable? Will I be able to continue to save? However in order to find our place in this world, the place where we find our purpose and are happy, we must face these fears head on. I have already faced my biggest fear, I have left my profession.

So tomorrow, my adventure really begins. The snow is coming. For the next few months I will be the best damn lift attendant on the mountain and on my days off I will forget the past, and forget the future, and live in the moment, with anyone that is willing to share their time with me. Life’s too short. People are too important. I’m looking for some more good people to share my life with.

A few brief words of wisdom from a bearded man to see me off. My next post will be from the Mountain. I’m very excited.

The Home Stretch

Monday morning, on the train, on my way to work. Next week I don’t need to do this anymore. It feels surreal. I don’t really know what to think. I didn’t really sleep at all last night. Just lay awake worrying about what im meant to get done this week knowing just how near impossible it’s getting to continue sitting and pushing buttons.

Yesterday I grabbed all of my work shirts except what I need for this week and cut all of the stitching away so that I now have a whole heap of raw material. Its up to my little sister now to convert it into a pencil case. A nice memento of time behind a desk.

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This time next week im heading up to Falls Creek to start my next (more exciting) adventure.

Now a fully grown adult. But still scared of the world.

Unnecessary Anxiety

My mind is in a strange place at the moment. At work (only 4 weeks left) i’m as depressed as I have ever been, though outside of work i’m getting close to being the happiest I have ever been. Every day I undergo a complete mental reversal at about 5:30. There is excitement brewing in me about what might be to come. There is also an anxiety eating at me about just how bad work might get during the next 4 weeks. The anxiety is very hard to overcome, whilst also being unnecessary. I recognise that my anxiety stems from a fear of what is in my short term future, whilst that in 4 and a half weeks I will be on Falls Creek without a care in the world. So why do I still feel anxious? why do I still have the urge to destroy all the things?

It seems reasonable that whilst in the midst of a hard time or a stressful situation one might become stressed or overwhelmed. Though to be stressed in anticipation of an upcoming event that may or may not be hard to deal with seems entirely unreasonable, and to only make the present, otherwise potentially pleasant moment, worse. So why feel anxious? Why whilst understanding that right now, whilst i’m not being persecuted or accused of some bullshit bureaucratic error, do I still feel so anxious about events which may not even occur. Further more, the events which may or may not occur depend entirely on my ability to output a sufficient amount of work. Though my anxiety about what may happen if I don’t get my work done is preventing me from completing my work. It’s all a vicious cycle of horrendous productivity. Perhaps a clear sign that I am not where I want to be.

I think subconsciously my anxiety is also a result of feeling that I am letting down my employer. I have a responsibility as an employee, that of late, I have not upheld. My first years as an engineer I produced, though at the time I was unsure how well I was doing, it is clear now that I was well over performing. It is a lie to say that I have enjoyed my time as an engineer though. I have resented (with perhaps the exception of the first 6 months) almost every moment I have spent behind a desk. It took some big mistakes and personal errors to realise that I was choosing to stay behind a desk, and that the feeling of entrapment was a result of being financially comfortable. Though now I am anxious, biting finger nails, feeling shit and wanting out. In 1 month, it will not matter what happens over the next 4 weeks. I will be out.

Is This @#$% Really Important?

My professional life is over in 51 days now (34 more days behind a desk). The closer the date gets, the more i’m thinking about what is going to happen. Truth is that I have no solid idea. Perhaps my need to know, my need to have some degree of certainty as to what the future holds, is something I need to let go of.

Today I have been trying to shift my thinking. Rather than thinking about what is going to happen. I’m asking myself what is important? Life is uncertain, and I do not have a solid plan. I only have ideas that may or may not work (though i’m largely optimistic) and a desire to actually live my life. So perhaps I should just let life happen, enjoy the moment and focus on the important things. But what are the important things?

These are the things that I think are important. This list has not been planned and perhaps I will use it as a ‘live’ record and update it as I make my journey. But for now, this is what comes to mind:

  • People
  • Passion
  • Family
  • Adventure
  • Individuality
  • Travel
  • Love
  • Compassion
  • Contribution
  • Sleep
  • Diversity
  • Experience
  • Friendship
  • Health
  • Creativity
  • I have recently been put in contact and inspired by a few people who have already taken the leap I intend to take. Individuals who have thrown away the ideals that we have been taught, and have become truly their own people. I hope to learn a lot from these incredible people.

    I have also had many conversations recently with older professionals, including people in my current workplace. Many times I have heard that one of the biggest regrets they have is not taking a similar risk when they were younger, and choosing to just continue in the corporate world, year after year.

    So i’m going to try my best to focus on what is important, and just let life happen, whilst trying to experience and travel as much as possible. If I end up in the gutter. I will end up in the gutter happy. I have no idea where I am going. But for the first time in my life I feel that I am beginning to discover myself, and not the person the world expects me to be.

    Entering the great unknown in T – 51 days.

    Reflections on an Interview

    Yesterday I had my first job interview in over 3 years. The last time I had one it led to my ‘career job’…. That didn’t really go to plan though. In fact the whole concept of a career has basically been thrown out now.

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    As an adult with an education and some real world experience, the whole interview process was relatively stress free and could easily be approached with a relaxed attitude. In younger years we are unfortunately drilled about the difficulties of getting a job and subsequently (in my experience) we become very anxious and nervous. Our education tricks us in to thinking that “if this doesn’t work out, i’m doomed to fail”, and we hinge all our hopes on getting a job that we probably won’t like.

    Every time I have attended a group interview, I am surprised by the attitude and approach of some people. During yesterdays interview there was only one such person (tough competition otherwise), however my experience suggests there are usually more. The individual I am referring to turned up rather unclean and wearing big bulky skate shoes and shorts. My first thought when faced with people like this is that they must attending the interview for their welfare payment, which is inconceivably pathetic in my eyes anyway, but this one was different. First impressions count. Though it seems many people don’t understand this. Fundamental to any interview is making sure you are clean, dressed appropriately (usually just slightly above what you believe the expectation to be), knowledgeable in the area you are applying for, well spoken, friendly and smiling. That some people manage to miss all of these things baffles me.

    With the right attitude, especially in Australia, there is no limit to what anyone can do or achieve. We have too many options to choose from. So many of them have life changing possibilities. I might tend to quote macklemore a little too often. But I think his work is brilliant and his message is clear. So:

    “We have many paths in this journey. They all act in different directions, so when you question don’t you worry. Theres not a wrong one, beauty can be found in all of them.” – Macklemore

    So. Yolo. I really hope I get this job, but if I don’t, it’s ok. I refuse to take another job I don’t enjoy. If it doesn’t work out, I start my search for the next adventure. From now on I work for experience and to learn. Ultimately I think it’s a bit silly to rely on an employer for our long term security. However in the short term I can use a job to learn new skills whilst picking jobs that I actually enjoy.

    So. I guess my humble words of wisdom are to find out first what it is you enjoy and then go and find out how to get paid doing it second. Things will not always go to plan, we will stuff up and fail. But don’t become stale. Don’t end up where you don’t want to be and afraid to change. This life is your responsibility. And don’t wear shorts to an interview.

    NO, NO, NO! WRONG!

    Earlier this week I was listening to a Ted Talk on creativity, and how we are now living in a world where mistakes are stigmatized. We are taught that making a mistake is unacceptable and that we must do everything possible to avoid them. The talk (at 5:00 mins) gives an example of three children who were reenacting the nativity scene and were playing the three kings. The first child came forward and said “I bring you Gold”, the second came forward and said “I bring you Mare” and the third came forward and said “Frank sent this”. The third child clearly not understanding what Frankincense was, but the point rather is that, as a child, he was not afraid to have a go. He was not afraid of being wrong.

    I feel that this is deeply true of my own life. As a child I can’t recall ever being anxious of making a mistake, though as a child I knew so little. Every day was a new adventure full of so much unknown. I can recall role playing with my friends, cops and robbers, or some other character based game making assumptions about the roles of the characters we played without a second thought as to the accuracy of our assumptions. We would make assumptions (without real world experience) about how it is really the lawyer who gets to kill the robber and how, no, the police man doesn’t drive the car, he has a driver! dah! Creativity ran wild in my mind as a child, yet now it seems to have largely faded away.

    So what happened?

    Unfortunately I think the answer is that I was put through the educational system. I don’t mean to undermine the importance of an education and of learning. But I am concerned that from as early as I can remember, my work was graded and compared against my peers, and no matter the difference in the students, we were all graded under the same system. No matter what the product, the teacher would rate it, C+, and then rank it against the rest of the class. Of course, the only way to do better was to make less mistakes. Soon enough, by making a mistake, I felt inadequate. But why is it wrong to make a mistake?

    Up until year 10 at high school it’s fair to say I was a pathetic student. I got into fights, had several suspensions and countless detentions and received deplorable marks in most of my subjects. I remember being tested for ADD and being made to attend anger management lessons because “there was something wrong with me”. That’s bullshit. There was nothing wrong with me. I ended up doing incredibly well. Went on further to get Honors in Engineering at University and then held down a professional job for over three years (that I have now elected to leave). The problem was that my individuality was squandered, my creativity was stripped from me as I was forced to comply with a system that was not built for me. A system that I don’t believe even caters for the majority.

    Only now that I have been through the whole system including the employment at the end am I really learning to appreciate the value of creativity. The value of having a go. The value of producing something original and not being concerned with its accuracy or whether people will like it or not. Just over a week ago I disconnected my blog from my Facebook. I could see that quite a few people from Facebook seemed to be reading my writings and it concerned me. But why? Because this is the way that we have been taught. What if someone doesn’t like what i’m writing? What if someone I know reads something about me that’s personal and starts talking about me? What if people laugh at me? What if i’m not good enough? Why do I care?

    I am not ashamed of who I am. Or am I? If I am truly not ashamed of who I am, and who I am becoming, then why am I concerned about who reads what I write? Why do I write? The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t know very much about myself, or life, or the future, or anything. The more I learn the more I realize I just don’t know. Making mistakes is natural. I am not ashamed of my mistakes. We live and learn and we collect scars. I have a few scars now. Before I am done on Earth I will carry many. But in the process of getting my scars I am going to truly live.

    Soooo. Quitting my professional Job…. Mistake? Maybe. But who cares! Time to tackle a new problem.

    Progressing Towards A Life Of Travel

    7 years of primary school, 6 years of high school, 4 years of University and 3 years professional experience as an engineer, and in 57 days I throw it all away. 57 days from now (38 days of actual work) I have my last day working as an engineer. Only now, after all of my schooling and workplace experience do I truly feel that I am prepared for life.

    It’s a lie to say I am not anxious or scared. Uncertainty looms over me. However the closer I get to my final day, the more optimistic I become. My attitude and anxiety fluctuate wildly day to day, but the overall trend is in the right direction. Currently I am reducing my debt so rapidly that it is looking like I will actually have a bit of cash behind me when I leave. I’m smiling more frequently now. I have always been optimistic. Though now I am optimistic with a much grander view of potential.

    I do not believe life has any purpose. I don’t believe that we are meant to do something with our time and I don’t believe there is any higher power. Besides maybe one that has evolved independently from us and left us in some form of colossal petri dish as an evolutionary experiment. I do believe that we all have the ability to experience joy, that we all can (and do) experience suffering and loss and that we only have a finite amount of time on this earth live. So why do so many of us not ever really live.

    There was a quote (likely fake) going around facebook for a while supposedly having come from the Dalai Lama which regardless of its validity really hits home to me. It is said that, when asked what surprised him the most about humanity he replied as follows;

    “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money in order to recuperate his health. He is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he doesn’t live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama

    My life to this point I do not regret a day of. Because my experience, my successes and my (more numerous) failures have made me who I am now. I no longer fear life. I no longer live in anxiety with a fear of the future. I no longer advance myself and my skills for the benefit of an employer. I now live for me. I now live to experience. To travel. To smile, be happy and enjoy the company of the people I meet.

    This weekend is potentially a pivot point for me. I have an interview with a company called Merlin Entertainment. The specific role I am applying for is to be a lift attendant at Falls Creek (Snow in Australian) for a whole season. But the potential within this organization are incredibly far reaching and exciting. Wish me luck. Though I don’t think I need it 😉

    Preparing for Plan B

    In 10 days now I have my interview with Merlin Entertainment, which could land me on Falls Creek (the snow in Australia) for an entire season. I remain positive, though proceed with caution. Anyone intending to lead a lifestyle of adventure, myself included, needs to be able to change with circumstance. I must assess the ‘what if’, analyse my options and be prepared to tackle plan B if needed.

    The most pressing question on my mind lately is ‘can I lead the lifestyle I want, whilst continuing to get ahead?’. It seems the answer is an overwhelming yes. It just requires me to think outside the square, the rules of our world are different now. Though I am still so far removed from that reality that uncertainty is bouncing around in my head.

    I have faith in myself. I see others jump in, take a risk, and chase a dream. I see them succeed. These are the people that get to the finish line with a real story to tell, a story of adventure, of risk and of overcoming. My story so far I am proud of, if for nothing else then for the education and experience it has given me. This is my life, our lives, ours to do with as we choose. Am I so scared of not being successful or being broke that im not willing to try and really live?

    A desk is a slow and uninteresting way to fade away. I choose to live.

    Failure

    Sleep didn’t come tonight. Some days are good and some days are bad. Some days are a mixture of both. This world has too many ways of defining someone as a failure, of keeping someone down and hammering in to them that they are not now, and never will be, good enough.

    I find myself looking into the mirror a lot lately, asking myself ‘how did I get here?’ and ‘who have I become?’, when the truth is I know. I am an incredibly driven man, the overachiever, the one that people come to with questions. But these traits are irrelevant and useless when we loose touch with our passions, when we push so far forward in the wrong direction. The longer I remained an engineer, the more removed from what my real passions are I became, the deeper I fell into a depression that I am still struggling with and am not yet free from. Truth is, no matter how hard I think about it, I’m no longer sure where my real passions lay. I know I am in love with mathematics and the sciences. But there used to be more than that. What was it? The hunt is on.

    I have faced some serious hurdles now. Woe is me right? Wrong. We all face our hurdles, some more serious than others. It is how we deal with them that defines us. I have dealt with mine in various ways. Some extremely well, leaving me with a sense of great pride, and others extremely poorly, so poorly in fact that I am lucky (and grateful) to be alive. I’m behind the ball now, still struggling back to the starting line. Though this time I am truly educated, truly prepared for what life might throw at me. I think it is likely that my greatest struggles are now behind me. We can never know what the future will hold, I could be struck by lightning today and it could all be over. We are not the masters of our own lives and we are not in control, we just think we are, and so we try our best to drive and steer around the obstacles not knowing that the engines about to blow. It is the best we can do.

    Through everything, I know I am not a failure. Even though people laugh when I tell them my story and my dreams and goals, I am not a failure. My life is not going to follow a conventional path, but it will be an extraordinary one. Though I secretly hope I do, it seems unlikely I will ever marry or have kids, but this does not make me a failure. My mistakes and my shortcomings do not make me a failure. Because I am getting better, I am on the mend, and though anxious and frightened, I am prepared for anything. I know what I need to change, I know what I need to stay away from, I know what I need to do in order to be successful in my own eyes, and it is closer than anyone believes.

    Live was not meant to be easy. Life was not meant to be anything. It just is. So we live, learn, fall down, fail, trip up, fall down again, get trampled on, laughed at, mocked, but then we get back up. I will keep getting back up. I will not submit to a life of just ‘getting by’ or just ‘surviving’. I will keep getting up until I am exactly where I want to be and then I might ‘lay down’ instead. Soon now, I will turn around confidently and say that I am happy, that I am where I want to be.

    I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison

    Running From Nothing

    The desire to change, the desperate and pressing need to run away from some ill defined thing. Every day the desire to be something better, to be something different hangs over my head.

    Week after week I partake in the mundane journey to work, in a train packed full of people on their own personal mundane journeys to the same places they go every week. We are only here once, so why is it this way? YOLO. Right? Or have I missed something? I just want to run away. To experience something extraordinary, to be thrust completely out of my comfort zone and to be tested for what I am worth.

    So I get on a bike, and I start riding, like some horrible fate is chasing me. Until eventually I either wear out and collapse or get as far as I hoped to go. In today’s case the city. Exhaustion brings a temporary peace, an increased clarity of mind. A short time where all anxiety disappears and I realise that things are on the right track, if I just stay focused and keep my eyes on where it is I really want to be.

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    My desk life is nearing an end, and although I have made progress elsewhere, the outside world still frightens me. One of the things I look forward to the most is going to work, wherever the next place is (hopefully Falls Creek), and being enveloped in a community of people that are of a similar demographic. People that have grown up in the same world I have, that have experiences I can relate to and learn from. Life is more than how quickly and efficiently you can fill out that form or get out those plans. Who is the person that is receiving these plans? What is their name? What do they really want to be? I want to know.

    I am going to live an extraordinary life. Thanks to my big decision, it starts in less than 3 months.