Walk on Fire, or Wimp Out?

A whole bunch of you have contacted me following Monday’s post, demanding the next piece, so look, you greedy gulls, I slogged away getting the next bit written up – here it is. Drink the freakin kool-aid.

BUT WAIT!

Before you read any further, you absolutely have to watch this.  Watch this and witness the state of pure weirdness I’m currently residing in.  If it’s not joy, I’ve lost my marbles.  Either way it’s bloody awesome fun.  When you’ve watched it you can scroll down and read the rest.  Push play – I challenge you not to smile, even if you think I have indeed lost my marbles.  I am not an actor.  I am a human being.

Yep…. I know, right?  I should clarify that I have drunk no alcohol in 6 days, and taken no illegal substances.  I had one cup of Earl Grey two days ago though, could it be that?

I’m assuming at this point that you’ve read my last post (link here).  If you haven’t, please go back and give it the 5 minutes or so it deserves, this will all make a lot more sense if you do.

So, we’ve got to the point where Mr Robbins has fired up the crowd to the point of ecstasy. The entire room, all 8,000 of us, is screaming “YES” over and over again, reflecting their determination for the better life Dear Leader has promised us.

“Dear Leader”

Indoctrinated much?

Tony quietens the room, and gets down to the important business of describing how we have to tackle the small task of walking over burning hot coals.  Now, it would be easy to understate how hot those coals are.  Boiling Water is 100C, your conventional stove top maxes out around 300C, these coals are 1000C.  Don’t believe me?  Google it – or here’s a link to a cooking website that will tell you the same

When the big man is up there on  stage, describing a horrible burn he sustained to his foot whilst fire walking, and tells you that if you don’t exactly follow his instructions, this too could happen to you – YOU SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE.  There was a perceptible shift in the atmosphere of the room, it went from pumped to anxious.  Old Tony has been here and done this before though, so he tells us straight:

“If you walk across the coals with absolute certainty that you will not get burnt…you won’t get burnt”

“If you walk across the coals with trepidation and worry, you will likely get burnt”

Well fuck that, I don’t want to get burnt!  I’m not going to get into the science here, I don’t know enough about energy flows to talk about it, but the general gist was this: it’s all to do with the energy of your body when you’re firing at an extreme level repelling the heat energy of the coals.

The room looks conflicted, many look anxious, they want to feel hyped, pumped and ready for action.  But I felt PUMPED!  I was READY FOR ACTION!  I wasn’t alone, and we became the leaders as we walked out of the main room and into the dark outside the arena.  We chant “YES”  at full volume, looking around us, inspiring and certain, “YES…..YES…..YES”

Before I go any further, time for some music to set the scene with some backing sounds.  I found this from one of his previous events, listening to it took me right back there.  If you’re on your phone, look for tribal drum music on your streaming account.

There are 8000 people taking on this fire walk, so as we leave the building, walking barefoot on the warm concrete, you can’t see the fire, or the coals, or Tony, but you can smell them, and you can hear the Tribal drums that are booming through the late night air, and you can hear Tony, bellowing.  Motivating us, shouting for us to maintain our energy, telling us why we are great, why we are destined to walk over these coals, why there is nothing to be afraid of.

I felt great, looking around me, so did everyone else now, we were moving to drums, clapping in time with them, pure intensity and certainty in the eyes of nearly everyone I looked at.  I was not remotely scared.  I felt more alive and in tune with the world than I can remember ever feeling before.

And then the drums stop suddenly.  Everyone looks around, confused, worried.  Has someone been hurt?  Word goes round that there’s a late night curfew on noise in the area.  WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.  Okay, we re-find our confidence, we can work with this.  This is not a problem.  The crowd claps and shouts “YES” louder.

And then Tony comes on the speakers and asks people to stop taking photos with flash photography as it will kill people’s state.  WHO THE FUCK IS TAKING FLASH PHOTOS RIGHT NOW?? I’M ABOUT TO POTENTIALLY LOSE A FOOT. OR TWO!  PUT THE PHONES AWAY YOU STUPID MORONS.

I sense that everyone feels this, as after that, the clapping becomes disjointed, the Yes’es subdued.  The pure certainty and belief starts to ebb away from the crowd, and for the first time I feel scared.  I notice this, and realising it, I chose to listen to the stuff I had been told.  I needed to change my state of mind, and how do we do that?  By altering our:

Focus – I focus on the outcome.  Which is….me celebrating on the other side, unscathed.

Language – I remove all language other than the word ‘YES’ from my mind.  I say YES over and over again, so that there is no room for anything else.  And I play the sound of tribal drums as a backing track.

Physiology – I fist pump a few times and then I bounce up and down a lot.  Then I sway with the imaginary drums in my head.

And with these three tactics deployed, I close my eyes and shuffle forward with the crowd, the smell becoming ever stronger.  I don’t remember much of this 10 minutes, I was completely in the zone.

Eventually the coals come into view, and BLOODY HELL! WHAT IS THIS?  They’re not red-hot at all.  I was promised red-hot coals, these pieces of shit are white.

“Will they be hot enough?  Shut Up You Idiot!”

I’m two from the front, it’s almost my time.  I force myself back to the ZONE.  Shouting “YES” at the back of the head of the guy in front of me.  The Firewalk marshalls are shouting at us to keep us focused and distracted from our impending doom. I’m one from the front, and just as the guy in front of me is about to march across he is stopped. Someone shouts “FRESH COALS” and out of nowhere a wheelbarrow appears full of bright red coals.  It takes them a minute to spade the coals out and onto the strip in front of me.  They sit there, glowing menacingly.  I do everything I can to battle the fear that has resurfaced.  I yell “YES” louder and quicker.  The guy in front of me must have taken his turn because all of a sudden I’m stood in front of those coals.  I shout “YES” again, I look up…….And I march across those coals like they’re nothing.

I’d love to explain to you what those 5 or 6 steps (the strip is about 12-15ft long) felt like, but I have no memory of them.  I know I did them because 6 days later I still have this evidence:

Wait, what?  You weren’t supposed to get burnt, Chris??!!

I didn’t get burnt on the walk, but I forgot to wipe my feet as I hit the end.  And so as I relaxed and savoured my triumph, I didn’t realise that a piece of coal was stuck to the bottom of my foot.  It only started to hurt about a minute after I had finished the walk.  Think about that.  If you touch boiling water, how long does it take to hurt?  A split second.  How is it that this took about a minute for my body to register the pain… Incredible stuff.

So I walked across fire.  And I survived to learn a very valuable lesson.  The mind is more powerful than we can possibly imagine.  I’ll leave you with some sage advice from the big man:

“If you can’t, YOU MUST”

That’s Day 1 wrapped up…..

 

Footnote:  Did you know you can subscribe to the blog to have it delivered to your email? Well you can!  Navigate to the homepage – link here – scroll to the bottom, enter your email and you’ll get no spam, just a tidy little notification from WordPress when a new piece is available to read. 

I’d absolutely love it if you did this.

He Might Well Be My Guru

OH. MY.  F***ING. GOD.  How the hell do I start this piece, when there is so much to write, and manage to do justice to the weekend I’ve just had?

By saying “YES”, and getting the fuck on with it.

(warning there will be a lot of swear words in this post.  I’m in that amped, excitable, take on the world kinda mood, and it just fits)

I can’t cover it all in a single post – it would take 10,000 words or more.  None of you would read it if faced with such an inconvenient epic.  Consider this a brief synopsis of first part, a gentle, yet impactful touching of the surface, if you were.  I think I’m OK with the written word, but there is no way I am skilled enough to do this event justice by writing about it.  BUT FUCKING HELL – I’LL DO IT ANYWAY.

Before we go any further, I’d ask you to play a song whilst you read on.  Humour me.  This piece is going to end up in multiple increments and I’ll pick a song appropriate to each day.  If you’re on a PC here’s the link:

If you’re on your phone, open up Spotify/Apple Music and get it up loud.  Go on.  PUSH PLAY.  DO IT.

As anyone who may have seen the several Instagram stories I posted during the four days of attending the Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within’ event at Sydney Olympic Park, you will have noticed that it looked like I was at a four day rave in a giant arena.

And yes, we danced a lot.  A LOT. Boy did we dance, but it was also so much more than that.  Consider that across the 4 days my iPhone informs me that I walked 48,000 steps, and yet I stood on the spot for all four days, and drove to and from the event.  My problematic knee hurt when I woke up this morning, but not nearly enough given the extent to which I shook my booty.  My ‘Asstitude’ was on point.

But I only posted videos of dancing, ‘ravey’ moments, because my phone was the last thing on my mind the rest of the time.  That’s all I filmed.  And even when I did film I was anxious to put it back in my pocket and get on with the fun.  I was soaking up the experience.  THE EXPERIENCE.  This was, hands down, the most intense, exhilarating, enlightening, full-on, pure, hardcore, joyous, exhausting, energising and beautiful experience of my life (to date).  I will be forever grateful for it.

Day 1: The Tentative Unleashing

8000 people flooded into the Qudos Arena at midday on Thursday.  The lights came on, the toned, skimpily-dressed pro dancers appeared on stage.  Calvin Harris blares out at full volume.  8000 people look confused, overwhelmed, worried, doubtful, or possibly even regretful at spending so much money on what was obviously going to be a TOTAL FUCKING NIGHTMARE.

I’ve had so many comments on those Instagram stories from people saying that it looked like a TOTAL FUCKING NIGHTMARE.  I GET IT.  It does look that way, and I felt some of that on Thursday afternoon as I tried to get into the grove and pump myself up for the unknown.  I should also note that a whole bunch of people also messaged to say it looked insane, in a good way.  My people.

But here’s the thing, when you doubt it as an outside observer, who hasn’t experienced it, you’re not accounting for the sheer power and presence of the man running the show.  Big Tony appears on the stage after 30 minutes of blaring music and simple, choreographed group dancing (which features an awful lot of fist pumps and hand claps).  The place erupts.  He’s a giant of a man standing at 6ft7, with huge fucking hands, but his voice is his main weapon.  Like Zeus himself; deep, bellowing, confident, and yet completely and utterly compassionate.

Say what you want about him.  The dude cares.

“Tony Robbins faced food insecurity as a child and has supported the hunger cause for over three decades. In addition to several years’ worth of personal donations toward providing hunger relief across the country, Robbins made a gift of 1,000,000 meals to provide support to individuals affected by Superstorm Sandy.”

link to full article here

And it feeds through to the participants of these events, they feel it, and so they care too, and they follow his instructions because of that.

His instructions are simple: If you don’t like your ‘state’ of being, change it.  How do you change it?  By altering your physiology, by changing your focus, and by utilising different language.  The key side of this triangle, as I, and 8,000 other souls saw it was to change our physiology.  Except we didn’t see it, Tony told just us to see it, and like lambs to a shepherd – we followed his instruction.  When he told us to jump up out of our seats we did, when he told us to celebrate like we’d just won the sporting tournament of our dreams, we did.  When he told us to fist pump the air and scream “YES”, we did.  When he told us to find and hug/high-five ten strangers, yup, we did.

It was, admittedly, uncomfortable and disjointed at first, but eventually you submit to it.  Everyone else around you is doing it, so if you don’t do it, you look like a miserable twat.  Seriously, if you can’t dance around and have fun at one of these things, I don’t think we can be friends.  Fortunately I know pretty much all of you out there would go on to have a similar experience to me, even if you don’t believe it now.  To say it was infectious would be an understatement.  It was frickin’ ELECTRIC.

So look, we did a bunch of exercises that identified what our core needs are in life, what really drives us, and then we questioned why we have prioritised things like certainty, variety and significance over things like growth, love and contribution.  Here’s the man himself talking about this very topic:

It struck a chord.  Because I have not invested nearly enough of myself into things like growth and contribution, and this is why this blog exists, and why I’m at a Tony Robbins event.  I’ve been stamping down my deep inner human needs in order to satisfy the survival needs.  I knew this shit before I turned up on Thursday, but having a bellowing giant yell it at you repeatedly kinda helps you sit up and take notice.

The day played out like this, over and over again, identify things that need to change.  Then stand up and go crazy celebrating how it would feel to have this great stuff in life.  The dude hypnotised the entire room and had us all sobbing about how terrible life was in 20 years time because we continued to ignore our real needs.  MAD ASS SHIT.

More powerful than helping to identify what we wanted, he showed us through taking us through the process, that emotions can be shifted in an instance.  One second I’m feeling glum as fuck, next second I’m jumping around and dancing as though England have just won the World Cup.  When you experience seismic shifts in emotional patterns in the time it takes to click your fingers, you start to realise that actually, you can control how you feel.  It is not external forces that determine ones happiness, it is you…..

It gets to 10pm, we’ve been going 10 hours without a break, no one is complaining.  Robbo then spent half an hour amping up the room, preparing us to go to war.  Well it felt a bit like we about to dive out of the trenches, but he was actually preparing us to walk across 1000 C coals, pulled fresh out of a huge fire that had been raging outside the stadium for hours.

I’m going to walk you through what happened next, but in the next post.  I’m at 1,200 words and you lot keep complaining my posts are too long, so you’ll have to wait.

Fuck, 1200 words and I haven’t even wrapped up Day 1….

More to come later in the week.

Footnote:  Did you know you can subscribe to the blog to have it delivered to your email? Well you can!  Navigate to the homepage – link here – scroll to the bottom, enter your email and you’ll get no spam, just a tidy little notification from WordPress when a new piece is available to read. 

I’d absolutely love it if you did this.

The Evil Stepmother is Dead! Bachie Review pt.2

THE EVIL STEPMOTHER IS DEAD.  Her dastardly sidekicks are gone too. Good prevails over evil!  Hope conquers despair.  The righteous reign supreme!  CINDERELLA SHALL GO TO THE BALL!

That’s right, I came home from work and cooked up a prawn and vegetable stir fry, with tamarind, coriander, fish sauce and chilli.  The prawns were wild caught in Byron Bay – it was epic.  I’m a total food w@nker.  I’ve accepted it.  And then I turned on the Bachelor for this week’s second instalment. It did not disappoint.  I mean, it was still utter garbage.  I drifted in and out of being mildly engaged and not at all, but the outcome did leave me with a rather lovely, gooey feeling inside.  Just like those prawns. Mmmmmm.

After some of the girls do some frolicking in the pool in revealing swimsuits, the really tall girl defies her high centre of gravity and wins a date by not falling over in a zorb, in the pool.  She’s quite full on, but seems like a good sort.  Nick appears to appreciate her ‘decentness’ and rewards her with a tentative snog.  And a rose.  Go tall girl.

In yesterday’s post I described the cuddly Nick as a hero; I was being somewhat ironic. The term ‘hero’ gets bandied about willy nilly, which has diluted its meaning, which is a shame, because in this instance it’s right on.  Towards the end of the episode, young Nicholas takes the slightly spaced out Tenille off for a ‘chat’, and proceeds to covertly coerce her into grassing up the ‘bad eggs’ in the house.

I thought the manner in which Nick dealt with this was bloody marvellous.  He sniffed them out like a pig in a truffle field.  So that the genteel Tenille didn’t have to actually say:

“Cat and Romy are total C**TS, kick them out please, Nick?”

…instead he asks her to indicate who were the problem children were using various artefacts and trinkets conveniently placed on the coffee table in front of them.  Tenille obliges like shes moving pieces on a chess board.  The viewership sense the evil triumvirate’s days are numbered.

Nick, like the dashing knight in shining armour that he is, immediately goes to task – he bowls over to queen big mouth (literally), Cat, and takes her aside for another “chat”.  Cat, having spent the entire episode moaning about how Nick hasn’t shown her enough attention, is positively beaming as they walk off.  She thinks she’s about to find herself another window to have a stab at laying the smack down on Nick’s hairy lips.  Having been totes awkwardly rejected last time around.

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Earlier, Cat told her partners in crime, Fashionista Romy, and the other one with the nose, that she was going to give Nick an ultimatum if he doesn’t start realising how great she is.  Seems fair, she left Bali, and her fashion business, after all, just for him, so he absolutely has to do what she wants.  Firstly he should stop spending so much time with the utterly delightful Brooke (if Nick doesn’t pick her – I’m next in line, SHOTGUN!), and take Cat on more dates.  Presumably so he can work his neck muscles out some more….  The poor lamb, little does she realise she’s headed for the slaughter.

The right thing happens, Cat is booted from the show with no opportunity to say goodbye to her friends allies, or to waft her toxic fumes in the house.  She cries her crocodile tears.  Insists she has a ‘heart of gold’.  To no avail.  The car picks her up and off she goes, never to be seen again, unless you buy some cheap jewellery from her in Bali, presumably.  Given how bad my guts were after my recent trip to Bali (link here) I can’t see myself heading back any time soon.  SO LONG KITTY CAT.

Nick eliminates the one with the nose and someone very unmemorable.  Romy is offered salvation, but chooses to fall on her sword and f**k off on her own terms, presumably sensing the potential public backlash and forever lasting damage to her image.  Might be a problem that, Romy, working as you do, in an industry which is all about image. LOL.  Who am I kidding?  She’ll probably get a promotion.

This is likely to be my last bachelor write-up.  Unless you scream for more.  I kinda sense from the way Nick’s hands were shaking on the drawing date with Brooke last night that he is proper smitten (just like the rest of us) and the game is over.  It’s also got nothing to do with the theme of the blog, but it has been fun.  I think my next post will be about why I’ll never be a vegan.

Go Brooke.

Footnote:  Did you know you can subscribe to the blog to have it delivered to your email? Well you can!  Navigate to the homepage – link here – scroll to the bottom, enter your email and you’ll get no spam, just a tidy little notification from WordPress when a new piece is available to read.  I’d absolutely love it if you did this.

Ten-Nil! Oh… Tenille? Ohhhhh Tenille.

Can someone explain the name Tenille to me?  Scrap that. Googled it.  Means ‘light’, and is of Celtic or African origins. Celtic and African – pretty closely related cultures those… How?

What are the hell are you talking about, Chris?

Well, I got back from the gym tonight, cooked up some fish and veggies, switched on the TV, and tuned into the second half of tonight’s episode of Australian Bachelor.  From there I watched a beautiful young woman go on a (somewhat contrived) date with our hero singleton, Nick.  Contrived??? The Bachelor?  No way!!!  They rode on a Harley Davidson, they messed around with some bee hives, and then Nick pretended not to look when Tenille spat out the beeswax.  Tenille knew exactly what she was doing when she told the camera afterwards that she’d pulled off a sneaky spit.  Dirty girl, Tenille.

Is this what we’re calling entertainment nowadays?  Because if we are, it’s bloody brilliant.  And it’s bloody sick.  Watching 15 attractive women battle it out for a man’s attention in a competitive, choreographed, controlled and completely monitored environment is riveting viewing for some reason.  It’s also a bit disturbing.

Anyway, back to the action: Young Tenille, high on life after smooching the dashing, heavily moustachioed Nick, comes back to the villa/mansion/country pile, and proceeds to what any sane person would do:  Tells, no, GUSHES, every single aspect of her date and intimate snog-fest to her love rivals.  She even acts out the way in which they kiss, and then moaned after the kiss.  SOFT CORE!

Makes perfect sense: GET IN THEIR HEADS TENILLE! MESS WITH THEIR CONFIDENCE.

The problem Tenille has, is that in a previous episode she categorically stated she would not kiss someone who had been dating and lip smacking a bunch of other girls.  One third of the Queen Bitch Club, Romy (my unfortunate selection in the office sweepstakes), sees her opportunity to fight back after Tenille’s goading, and seizes it.

From here Romy sets about dismantling poor, sweet Tenille’s character in a brutal, almost professional manner.  It’s almost like Romy works in fashion and has learnt how to play the game.  Oh hang on, Romy does work in fashion.  Who let a professional in the house???

Tenille can’t handle Romy’s expert assassination and runs off into the woods, alone and despairing.  Except she’s not alone and despairing, she’s followed by another of the girls,  who repeatedly pleads with her to stop and talk to her.  She must have wailed “Stop running” about 17 times.  It didn’t work the first three times, love, just shut up and keep up.  Or join a gym.  Of course the other girl is not alone in chasing Tenille, because there’s an army of camera men, sound guys, and production assistants galloping after her, keen not to miss this reality TV gold.

And that’s exactly what it is.  It’s gold. It’s a ratings booster.  Shows like this need meltdowns like this, because it gives them a short snippet of drama – to broadcast on repeat ahead of the show to guarantee better viewing figures. I guarantee Channel 4 were rubbing their grubby little hands with glee when Jade Goody (RIP) went all KKK on Bollywood star, Shilpa Shetty in the UK’s celebrity Big Brother.

Don’t worry about the fact it’s cashing in on another human being’s despair, just ignore your humanity as you sit in your concrete box, with your cold Ubereats dinner, cheap wine, the flickering screen beaming away in front of you.  Sit there, you pleb, and enjoy the drama.  Great isn’t it.  Oh look, Tenille is sobbing great big tears, she can’t stand this sick experiment she’s placed herself in.  Brilliant.  Now I feel better about how cold and crap this nutrient-deficient meal is. It could be worse, I could be Tenille, or even worse, Romy.

I have news for Tenille; that sick experiment is no worse than dating in the dating app era.  It’s just unfortunate for her that several million people are watching her plight.  It is, of course, still better than an Ubereats pizza delivery after 10pm.

BUT WAIT!

Tenille means light.

And with light comes hope.

The sneak preview of tomorrow’s episode suggests that the evil stepmother, Romy, may be getting her comeuppance for the opportunistic attack.  And if there’s one thing we like to witness more than a bitch fight, and a subsequent meltdown – it’s a baddie being taken down by the underdog.

Prediction TEN – NIL

Cancels Thursday plans…

Footnote:  Did you know you can subscribe to the blog to have it delivered to your email? Well you can!  Navigate to the homepage – link here – scroll to the bottom, enter your email and you’ll get no spam, just a tidy little notification from WordPress when a new piece is available to read.  I’d absolutely love it if you did this.

You Were Just Fine As a Real Thing [Drake’s words, not mine]

Most of the time when I’m listening to songs, I pay little attention to their lyrics, especially the meaning.  I think this probably explains why I can never remember the lyrics, even to my favourite songs.  Which is why I will never win the X Factor.  The sole reason.

I recently spent a week of bingeing on Michael Jackson’s back catalogue, then for some reason, decided to switch it up, and check out Drake’s latest offering.

Not my usual flavour, Mr Drake, but that man is shifting records (/Spotify downloads) and winning awards like no one’s business.  Early on in the track ‘Don’t matter to me’, the prodigious Canadian rapper delivers us a poignant message:

Doing it all just to feel things

Drinking is another vice

Drugs just aren’t suiting you right

You were just fine as a real thing 

Such a poet, that man.  This snippet resonated with me.  I was on the train on the way to work when I heard it.  I immediately took my phone out and noted down the lyrics, posted them into a blog post, and, well, several weeks later, here we are…

A mate of mine, let’s call him Simon (he’s not called Simon), suggested a while back, as we sat outside a small local Mexican bar which we often frequent, that perhaps I should live the ‘clean’ life permanently, because, and I quote:

“You’re not that boring when you’re sober, Chris, you’re alright” 

High praise indeed.  My friend, like Drake rapped, was appreciating that I’m fine as the real thing.  Not the drunk thing.  I was on a 2 week detox program at the time and hadn’t drunk any alcohol or caffeine in that period.  He was right, I was bouncing with energy after those two weeks.  The way I eat 98% of the time would be like a detox to most people, but when I cut out those two forms of liquid, and the odd bit of chocolate and dairy, I reverberate with energy.

The problem is I like all four of those, they’re my vices.  and everyone needs a vice or two, don’t they?  OR DO THEY?

I went to a party about a month ago and got utterly wasted on two bottles of delicious, rich and smooth Hunter Valley Shiraz.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed drinking that wine, and had an absolute blast with my equally-inebriated mates in the process.  I also ate a massive bag of corn chips, an entire tub of french onion dip, smoked a couple of cigarettes, held a headstand for over a minute, and upset a small dog.  I could feel guilty about some of that, but I really don’t see the value in beating myself up about it.  Those full-on, reckless nights are fairly few and far between, and it felt a bit ‘needed’.

Mentally ‘needed’.  Not physically needed.  My body was definitely not as happy about the state of play as my mind was. My face was flushed red for most of the night, I woke up with a terrible hangover (thank god for the sauna), was groggy all through Sunday, my digestive system was playing up, and my brain was sluggish at work on Monday (ah, the joys of a hangover in your mid-30’s).

Did I really need it, mentally?  Was it worth it?  That’s a tough one to answer, but I’ll give it a go.

In an earlier post I mentioned how I’m a lot happier than I used to be.  I’ve also changed a fair bit in the three years since I moved Down Under.  Changes have included, but are by no means limited to; a growing and insatiable appetite for knowledge on how to be better, to be healthful and thrive.  The problem I have right now, is that I know full well, as we all do, that binge drinking is very damaging to our physiology.  I seem particularly susceptible, and yet here I am, drinking at least twice a week, and getting in a solid binge at least once a fortnight.  Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid.

I’m aware that this makes me conflicted; I’m so focused on improving my health, so careful with what and when I eat, but yet here I am, continuing to willingly poison, and knowingly create setbacks for myself in my search for optimum health.  Why is that?

I know exactly why.

When I moved to Australia, back in October 2015, I had been tee-total, on the wagon, clean ‘n’ sober, for about a year.  I’d implemented this off the back of a couple of incidents where I had collapsed and got taken to A&E in the back of an ambulance.  Both occasions were on the day after a heavy night out.  Correlation or causation?  The second visit, roughly three months after the first, confirmed to me that it was the latter: I was staying in Southampton, England for work, in a cheap hotel, on my own.  I came back to hotel after a hungover day in the office and promptly collapsed as I stepped out of the shower.   I passed out for a bit, and woke up in a heap on the bathroom floor with some mad-ass heart palpitations, and a deep feeling of dread that is hard to describe – a genuine fear that my time was up.  It’s not a nice sensation that: thinking you’re going to die, it rattles you.  I hadn’t been drinking that day, I’d been drinking the day before, this was at least 20 hours since my last drop.  My body was clearly not happy with the status quo I had created for it.

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2014 – Two drinks in hand, cigarette in the other.  Happy-ish, but troubled with poor health.

It felt like a final warning.  I sensed I didn’t have a choice other than to quit the booze.  At least for a while.

I spent almost a year in the UK from that point, too scared to touch a single drop.  I was travelling most weeks for work, and doing a renovation on my flat in London during the weekends.  I also had an impending move to Australia on the horizon, and thus a great incentive to save some cash.  I was surrounded by close friends and family who accepted my newfound sobriety.  It wasn’t easy to give it up, but it wasn’t too hard either.  I attended weddings, birthday parties, even a debaucherous stag weekend in Hamburg. Not a single hangover.  Well done me.

Then I moved to the land of kangaroos, Kylie Minogue, flat whites, Vegemite and glorious sunshine.

For approximately the first 6 months I held firm, maintained my strict zero alcohol policy.  I got early nights, played tennis, 6am runs on the beach became the norm, I ate LOTS of sushi, enjoyed sunset picnics by the beach, camping trips with the girl I was seeing at the time, learnt to ride a motorcycle, and worked my socks off at a new job.  I was cruising.  But after 5 months that girl and I broke up.  I moved from one side of Sydney Harbour to the other, and started my new life all over again.

And fuck me, I was lonely.  I spent so much time on my own during that period that I finally got used to, scratch that, finally learnt how to enjoy my own company.  Something I could never manage before.  Fortunately I knew a few people in Bondi and they were great at introducing me to people, taking me to parties, weekends away even.  Without those few people I doubt I would have lasted here.  The problem I had was that when I attended these events I always felt like an outsider who couldn’t properly partake in the fun.

I beat myself up about it at the time, but this was not a fault of mine, I realise this now.  It’s merely a fault with society – that we place so much importance on alcohol for social interaction, from such an early age.  It’s literally what a lot of us grow up learning, and then knowing.

I was an outsider.  A lot of this group had known each other for years, they weren’t a clique, but I was new, and I didn’t drink.  It was a tough starting point and eventually I cracked.  After circa 18 months of sobriety I slowly re-introduced alcohol.  I told myself I would allow myself a few drinks here and there, to fit it, but in reality it wasn’t long before I was regularly hitting up late night binges.  No regrets of course, it was a lot of fun.  Like being a student all over again, without the debt and the exams, but with a lot more sun, and cash.  It wasn’t ideal, given what my physiology had told me previously, but I was making friends and enjoying myself.

If you’ve read my first post – link here, you’ll know that I’ve had a shitty time of it over the past year or so.  A number of factors were at play, but since that low point just over a year ago, I have gradually found an equation has allowed me to rebuild my health, and my life.  BUT I’m still not truly thriving.  The equation has not fully solved the problem, I’m not 100%.  My sleep is still disturbed, my stomach still plays up, I still get bouts of intense fatigue, and I often wake up groggy with no plausible reason for doing so.

So if my diet is sorted, my coffee consumption culled, my stress managed, my body and mind active (THANK YOU, WordPress), and my social life fulfilling, I should, in theory, be on the road to a full recovery, but I feel like I’ve hit a plateau.  Regretfully, my accusing finger finds itself, once more, pointing at the bottle.

I like alcohol, I’ve always liked the taste, I don’t like sweet drinks, I like bitter, dry and flavoursome beverages that taste of booze.  But more than the taste, I like the social aspect, the community of it, the parties, and the chilled vibes.  I, like all humans, desire to belong and to relax.  To feel part of something.  I am also an extrovert, so I need people to feel energised.  I think it is a shame that our society has pushed a known poison as the No.1 means of connecting with each other.  If you read my Chocolate Coated Rave two-parter then you’ll know there are more effective and healthier ways to connect (emotionally and physically).

So, what to do?  Can’t go getting high on chocolate with strangers every weekend…

Well I’m developing a few hobbies that don’t require alcohol consumption to partake.  This blog being one of them.  When you think about it, the prospect of what can be achieved when you put your mind, and body, to something other than getting sloshed – is pretty exciting.  I experienced that this week, and I’ll write a post on it this weekend if I don’t spend the entire 48 hours in a hungover daze…

I think I’ve subconsciously started to marginalise alcohol again.  Not completely, it would be unrealistic, and downright undesirable to do so.  But my desire for benders feels like it’s waning.  Drinking for the sake of it, drinking because you feel like you need it, or drinking to fit in should not feature in any of our lives.

Red wine, however, should feature.  You’d have to prise it from my cold, dead hands.

 

Footnote: I really enjoyed this quote about Drake, it felt particularly fitting given the content of this blog to date.

Rap music goes hand in hand with toughness, with bravado, with “masculinity”. Drake took this stereotype, and threw it out the window. Because of the way he talks about his feelings, and the sincerity with which he does it, he has been labelled ‘soft’ by a number of his critics. This is all too common a feeling for young men these days, which is all the more reason why artists like Drake are so important.

It’s not weird for a young man to talk about their feelings. It’s not soft. It’s normal. And not only has Drake normalised it. He made it cool. If Drake can say the words, “I needed to hear that shit, I hate when you’re submissive. Passive aggressive when we’re texting I feel the distance”, well then why can’t everyone?

Extra Footnote: I have now decided, once and for all, that my favourite MJ song is ‘The Way You Make Me Feel.  I know everyone loves ‘Dirty Diana’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘Beat it’, and don’t get me wrong, they’re GREAT songs, but there’s something about TWYMMF that just makes me need to dance, do MJ style ‘Ooohs’, and grab my crotch, like no other.  It’s a winner for me.