Kia Kaha Does Not Cut It After 15,000 Earthquakes

Next time you are on a break, give this breathing practice a try (follow-up with optional beer). You will feel calm within three minutes. You can do it anywhere. You can do it dozens of times a day.

Do not be one of those people who melts down after six months like I did.

This post started life as a letter to those of us in the central South Island of New Zealand who suffered yet another major earthquake last week. I suppose it could be applicable to anyone else in the situation of an ongoing disaster, natural or otherwise.

An Open Letter

Dear fellow earthquake survivors,

Last Monday’s huge earthquake was a traumatic event. I do not use that word lightly. Trauma is a thing, and today I am going to write a bit about the challenges of earthquake trauma in particular. I have tried to keep it brief but that has not been easy, so please read the whole thing before you react.

Towards the end you will find an example of the sort of habit that will help you get through — long-term. It is how I eventually learned to find some calm during a time when it seemed impossible: the Christchurch earthquake sequence that started in September 2010.

This is not a comprehensive guide to coping with trauma. The knowledge in here will not be relevant to everyone.

I wish I could offer more, but I was unable to avoid becoming overwhelmed myself. All I have is what I learned by trial and error. This post is offered so that you may not have to repeat my mistakes. Read on.

Responding to Threats

The first thing you learn in the aftermath of a large earthquake is that they are not a one-off thing. By now you will know this. Aftershocks go on for months or years, and can be as bad or worse than the first event. With every new rumble from the earth comes the inevitable thought: “is this one going to get worse?” There is an ongoing situation where your life could be threatened at any moment, even while you are asleep.

Common wisdom goes: the less we buy into this threat, the more we will be able to respond to it without losing our shit judgement. This strategy often works. Unless you have suffered medical shock (a whole different ball-game), you have probably come through the last few days feeling more alert, more able, and more resilient than you do in normal life.

I’ve been there. For the first few weeks after our big one, I biked around Christchurch (the roads were impassable for cars) with a backpack full of hand tools. I checked on friends, family and neighbours. I helped make roofs weather-tight, shoveled liquefaction, and took too many photos. I kept my mum company. I visited churches and monasteries of all religions. This was all over town. I biked twenty to fifty kilometres every day. I felt strong and able-bodied.

Your body has a natural response that gives you a survival advantage through hormonal changes. This response is known as fight-or-flight, and you have probably heard of it. It makes you feel wired, ready to attack the nearest problem, or run away from danger, or both (hence the name).

Handy? Totes — for the short-term.

Living With Ongoing Threat

But the aftershocks grind on. The roofs leak less for a while, but they spring open again next time the ground shakes. People are still afraid. Although the frantic pace of repair-work eases back just a little, you start to realise how much has been lost.

My mind raced all day until late at night. In the mornings, I woke bone tired, but by evening I was so hyped that I could not sleep.

I started getting ill a lot, colds and flu in summer time, which interfered with my building apprenticeship. I found it harder to concentrate when working my other job. And despite still biking twenty ks every day, I started gaining weight.

While hyped up after a big aftershock, I would say “let’s do something to take our minds off it. Let’s have a BBQ”. And I would call up my mates.

What I had yet to learn was that insomnia, immune system slowdown, low libido, digestive problems, memory and concentration problems, and weight gain are all textbook features of ongoing chronic trauma. These are things you do not want.123

When February the 22nd came along, I was in the CBD, near the CTV building. I assisted for a while but had to leave and run to my son’s school, where they were trapped on the fourth floor. Too many needy causes. Once he was safely evacuated, my son and I abandoned the Kombi in a carpark due to gridlock, and walked out of town. That evening, I broke down in tears. My son was asleep and didn’t have to see it, thankfully.

I took time away from my jobs and we both headed for Golden Bay. Eventually this led to me being unemployed for a few months.

What went wrong?

In the months following the first 7.1 quake, the bumper-stickers read “Kia Kaha Christchurch” and “We’ll be back!”. This seems like a good sentiment for recovery; to make a stand, despite what had happened. Unfortunately, it did not take into account what was still happening. It assumed the threat had passed and it was time to pick up the pieces. That was naive.

In our case, the threat had not passed: large earthquakes are not a one-off event. I told myself that the probability of another large one decreased with each passing day. But as each pulse of shaking thrummed through my living room, or kicked me where I lay jacking up piles, I could not help the fear: will this one get worse? The familiar rush of energy would catch fire in my belly and burn into my chest. Big ones left my lungs bursting, my face flushed, my hands trembling.

Kia kaha did not cut it in the face of this ongoing threat to my life and loved ones. In fact, it had stopped working long before I realised.

I interpreted “kia kaha” to mean staying committed to my job, having goals, finding ways to have fun despite what had happened, and being a support to others. But when I left work for the day, what my nervous system actually wanted was safety and familiarity, not another social outing or support call to struggling family. I needed to put something back in my own tank.


“Soothing”. It is not a word we associate with being resilient. If you are like me, there will be a kind of namby-pamby sound to it in your ears. That is a shame, because unless you vacate the region, you are in this for the long haul. It will be a busy time. Yes, you will need to keep your friends and family close; they will need your support and you will need theirs. Yes, you will need the odd blow-out from time to time. But your chances of coping will be much better if you add something that soothes your nerves, not pushes them further. You need to balance out your body’s crisis reaction.

Here in Christchurch it is six years later and finally there is a glimmer of rebirth in the CBD. You might be able to kia kaha without stopping for six years, but I could not. I barely lasted six months.

So What To Do, Then?

Most importantly, look for symptoms of fatigue in yourself and others. This is the best thing you can do to support your loved ones and neighbours. Signs to watch out for are trouble finishing sentences; tremor, tics and shaking; cravings to smoke, drink, or eat takeouts; losing hair, going grey or gaining wrinkles in the course of a few weeks; behaviour like repeatedly snapping at people or crying if that’s out of character. Thoughts interrupting one-another. Trouble sleeping, even when you’re exhausted.4

You may notice one or many of these in yourself or others over the coming weeks and months. The earlier you catch them, the easier they will be to shift. When they mount up for months like in my case, they become integrated into one’s neurology and harder to unravel.

They can indicate emotional, intellectual or physical exhaustion. Maybe all of them; it doesn’t matter. The important thing is what you do about it.

Stop on a dime

You need a practical way to unwind at the drop of a hat. In my case the most useful habits did not turn out to be the hour-long+ yoga and T’ai Chi classes that I attended. Those were an important part of my learning, and if something along those lines interests you, then I recommend adding them to your routine. But amidst a sequence of natural disasters, they were ultimately of limited practical use outside the studio or training hall.

I needed something I could roll into my days, so I could stop whenever I had a chance during daily life, take five and regroup. Something quick and reliable that I could use in the middle of endless roadworks, that wouldn’t take years to master.

The best example I have found is the simple breathing practice below. This for me was key.

A Simple Breathing Practice: Lengthening the Exhale

Next time you are on a break, before reaching for your smartphone, or a beer, give the below practice a try (and then have a beer). It is so simple, you will wonder what the point is — more on that soon. But partly because it is so quick and simple, it is also surprisingly effective.

You will feel calm within three minutes. You can do it anywhere. You can do it dozens of times a day.

  1. If preferred, find a private place (eg., bathroom, bedroom, or your car) so you do not feel self-conscious
  2. Make your exhales long — twice, three times or four times longer than your inhale:
    • Do this by blowing out between pursed lips like you would blow out a candle — slowly, in a thin stream of breath, without force.
    • At the end of each exhale, hold your breath out for a few moments. No air in your lungs.
  3. Do this for three to five breaths, or keep it up for a few minutes.

This practice will not unwind the entire stress of a shitty situation back to zero; but hey, nothing is perfect. It might still be the difference between making rational decisions or losing the plot at someone.

Do not be one of those people who melts down after six months of stoic endurance like I did.

There is a cumulative benefit from doing it frequently. Once every few days will not be enough. Aim for every couple of hours. That will make a difference.

How it Works: The Vagus Nerve

Lengthening your exhale like this reduces the urgency of your next inhale. More specifically, it increases the tone of your vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is part of your body’s involuntary (or “autonomic”) nervous system. The involuntary system is separated into two branches: the sympathetic nervous system controls your body’s fight-or-flight response, while the para-sympathetic nervous system provides a natural counter-balance.

Your vagus nerve forms the main part of the para-sympathetic side of things. It is also the largest nerve of the whole autonomic nervous system, either branch. It runs from your brain down your neck and through your diaphragm. It communicates with all the major organs and glands in your torso — your heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, stomach, spleen, you name it; with one exception. It does not influence your adrenal glands. They are a tool of the sympathetic nervous system alone. 5

Lengthening the exhale in this way is a gentler form of the Valsalva manoeuvre, which stimulates the vagus nerve 6. This promotes three main neurological states that counterbalance the trauma response:

  • “rest and digest” (creates gentler breathing, slower heart rhythm, effective food breakdown and greater nutrient absorption)
  • “feed and breed” (fosters a healthy appetite in more ways than one)
  • “tend and befriend” (instincts around looking after friends and making new friendships)

These are the neural opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Without them, all that busy activity in the next few months will come at a high cost.

Good tone of the vagus nerve is also linked to heart-rate variability, which is an important marker for health and stress levels 7.

Practices that promote “rest and digest” down-regulate production of stress hormones, giving your body a break and the chance to find a new equilibrium.

Repeated often enough, it will make a lasting change on how you are able to bear up. Consider it an investment.

Final Tips

  • Don’t wait until a quiet time for this, or let’s face it you’ll never get there. Tell those nearby “I’m going to take three minutes” and just go for it. They’ll soon be copying you.
  • It’s better if you can sit or lie down; setting aside even just three minutes to unwind is part of the benefit. But you can also do it while moving around if resting is not an option (e.g. in the shower, while working). You might not notice the effect so much but it’ll still be there. And every little bit helps.
  • Have a glass of water afterwards (and chase it down with a beer if you want 🙂 ).
  • Repeat often! (Familiar theme yet?)
  • I just found a similar take on this technique at Mind Body Green 8. There isn’t much new there that I haven’t already covered but you can go ahead and use it for fact-checking if you want.

  1. Textbook of Functional Medicine. The Institute of Functional Medicine. Gig Harbor, WA. 2010.

  2. Cortisol (Wikipedia)

  3. Chronic Stress (Mayo Clinic)

  4. I KNOW!

  5. Vagus Nerve (Wikipedia)

  6. Valsalva Manouevre (Wikipedia)

  7. Measuring Compassion in the Body (Berkeley University of California, 2015)

  8. A Simple Breathing Exercise (Dr. Robin Berzin for Mind Body Green, 2012)

Thoughts on Leonard Cohen’s A Thousand Kisses Deep

My paternal grandparents promised to love and cherish one another until death.

Confined to sex
We pressed against
The limits of the sea
I saw there were
No oceans left
For scavengers like me
I made it to
The forward deck
I blessed the rambling fleet
And then consented
To be wrecked
A thousand kisses deep
from A Thousand Kisses Deep by Leonard Cohen

I hope they took the spirit of the full vow, because after fifty years my grandfather passed away, leaving Grandma alone.

The phrase “until death us do part” is one of the few times in Christian ritual where death is acknowledged without recourse to eternity. There is no talk of being reunited in Heaven. And although there was plenty of that at Granddad’s funeral, I hope that Grandma was beyond wanting a gauzy veil by the time he left. I don’t picture her holding Geoffrey in her mind as as an angel reborn, but as the frail, vulnerable man overtaken by death as we all are due to be.

These days we know the certainty of death, and yet a cultural imperative has arisen to say “forever”. Walt Disney and the pop music industry have a lot to answer for in my book, because we can only ever mean “for now”.

We sail beyond sight of land to the deep, blue water, with only memory as a compass, and we swim together for a while … and then we sink into our own death or we drift apart. Neither outcome need be so shocking, except we were raised with modern images of “happily ever after”.1 It’s self-indulgent and dishonest.

Granddad’s final dissolution, premature as it could only ever be, was in the eyes of pop music a betrayal. His death was, of course, an abandonment. But it was also a tender illustration of the humanity that we all loved about him in life.

Thankfully the 20th Century also gave us Leonard Cohen, poet and mystic.

I loved you when you opened
Like a lily to the heat
You see, I’m just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second hand physique
With all he is and all he was
A thousand kisses deep

I hear their voices in the wine
That sometimes did me seek
The band is playing Auld Lang Syne
But the heart will not retreat
There’s no forsaking what you love
No existential leap
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep

He rethrones contradiction as the very heart of love; he tenderises adoration’s inevitable betrayal. Rejecting smugness, he edifies the paradox of giving ourselves to a person, to love, to duty, and to the world, knowing that one day it must all be lost beyond the horizon. In doing so, he restores love to its true grandeur, beyond the sickly packaging of a Broadway song and expresses the fatal human yearning to both experience all of life and yet to escape its ending.

And now he has led the way in death, as he did in life.

In Memoriam
Leonard Cohen
1934 — 2016
~ you win a while and then it’s done, your little winning streak ~

Note: The poetic content of A Thousand Kisses Deep has changed numerous times. This video differs from the one on the album.

  1. Authentic Russian and European fairy tales end with “happily until their deaths” or “and they lived long and happily”.

The Neighbour’s Son

Jamie the neighbour’s son came over last night. Well, he skated past while I was chopping kindling out the front. He called out “Hey Jules”, and came up the drive. Obviously something on his fourteen-year-old mind. Turned out his mum is in hospital with pneumonia and his dad — Daryl — was in there with her, as moral support. There’s a shadow on her heart and they’re going to operate to find out what it is. She’s had cancer once already.

They’re messed up people, Daryl and Loraine, but they do right by Jamie. They’ve taken the route in life — forced to by circumstances I expect — of working hard rather than overcoming their emotional difficulties. As a result, they drink a fair bit, smoke a lot of tobacco (wacky and not), have the messiest yard in the street, and leave Jamie on his own a bit more often than he perhaps needs from them. But he loves them. He’s a solid kid with a lot of love inside. Most of his days he spends down at the river fishing or BMX-ing around. His dad encourages him as much as he can by taking him and his school friends with their rubber dinghy to the fishing spots he knows from his own childhood. When he’s not working both weekend days that is. I know all this from conversations I’ve had and overheard, in that suburban way.

Thinking of Jamie and all the unguided worry he’s dealing with, made me realise how much one can cope with if they have a bit of nature in their lives. Reckon that’s something I’m missing a bit. Could do with some kind of activity that takes me into the interactions of birds and trees, insects, flowers, rabbits and sheep. Leaves, branches and good solid earth. Yeah, even in winter. What would that be, though? These days all the professions are bastardised by machinery and radios playing The Rock FM and contracts and profits and deadlines. Forget that shit.

I had a childhood surrounded by nature — even after we moved into the city from the country, our house had a small orchard of twenty-five fruit trees. As a child I was always outside, except if it was raining or snowing — then I was only half the time outside. Making dams in the gutter. Slipping around in the paddocks. Playing in the sandpit on sunny days. Climbing trees. Trampolining. Camping in the backyard, or further afield. Walking all over the Port Hills, walking to friends’ homes up and down the steep winding stairs and streets of Lyttelton. We were poor (my mum raised four kids on her own) but I was happy.

Once I left home it felt like it was all over. Everything I’d loved suddenly became a luxury I couldn’t afford. Unless you pursue it into adulthood, learn to make it work for you, create money through doing the same things you’ve always loved. Right?

Well, that hasn’t worked for me either so far. No one’s going to feed me to climb trees unless I’m cutting them down. Or unless I’ve a doctorate degree in botany that’s been written on cut down trees. No one’s going to feed me to walk through the hills unless I’ve got a goal. A destination. Or an audience.

It becomes a profession.

Growing up is so fucking overrated.

The Genius Sex Dwarf

We hardly had any clue what he was up to, other than the upside down pentagram drawn on his door. Us younger kids left him to it, mostly because he had a habit of knotting my collar with his fist if I came too close. When he did emerge, at mealtimes mostly, it was in full leather jacket and boots. To his credit, he usually carried an LP or several under his arm, which he’d flip onto the family record player and educate us with over dinner.

The Genius Sex DwarfThe recent death of musical genius Prince Rogers Nelson triggered memories of the first time I truly heard his music.

Let me just say, I’ve never identified as a Prince “fan” or anything. I didn’t, and don’t, go in for celebrity idolatry. But anyone alive in our culture during those times probably has a few memories brought to mind by his songs.

Flashback to 1992, and I was fourteen. Radio stations at the time had seen to it that I knew most of Prince’s big hits. But I’d never paid much attention.

My elder brother Joachim (Yok — five years my senior) had successfully intimidated the crap out of me for most of my childhood.

Though rarely present in the family home, Yok did return at times to occupy his bedroom. We hardly had any clue what he was up to, other than the upside down pentagram drawn on his door. Us younger kids left him to it, mostly because he had a habit of knotting my collar with his fist if I came too close. Now that I’m an adult I can see that mostly I was scared of how much I looked up to him.

When he did emerge from his dingey pit at the front of our weatherboard house in Lyttelton, for mealtimes mostly, it was in full leather jacket and boots. He usually carried an LP or several under his arm, which he’d flip onto the family record player and educate us with over dinner.

My own nature lacked what others seemed to just grok: boundaries. Social boundaries. Physical boundaries. Imagination (and imaginary) ones. Emotional boundaries. I had an internal confusion about raising walls between myself and others, both internal and external. I’d love to say I had a rare ability to keep my heart open, limitless, my interactions free of prejudice … but I don’t think that was the case. I just wasn’t very cluey about keeping things on the level.

My primary school days had been studded with unwise revelations on my part. I recall whispering to a new friend, “maybe we can get Leah and Elizabeth to come stay at my house in the holidays”, hoping it would make us a team, only to have those notions repeated back to me with elaborations, sing-song nicknames and group laughter the next lunch hour. Another time, it was a made-up language that I offered for playground ridicule.

I had a copy of the Lord of the Rings printed on the finest of rice-paper pages. When I took this to school, the other nine-year-olds found it hilarious, and not thought-provoking as I’d hoped.

Eventually I became good at hiding, and at fighting with my back to a wall. I became, ironically perhaps, both open and alone.

Little Red Corvette

Hagley High School was like a new start. I formed friendships with the most startling of classmates — another boy like myself fascinated with Celtic myth and rituals. We dabbled with Egyption magick and astral projection. I befriended girls who laughed at my jokes instead of my long hair, who teased me in ways that left me breathless — for more.

I didn’t work so hard in class, but I did work very hard to find interesting music that might hold currency with my new clan.

Yok was away one day about that time. I was bored, it was Saturday afternoon, and I came up with a plan to raid his music collection. The plan was: A) sneak into his room. B) take his stuff. C) head to my own sanctuary.


Sepia light through undrawn curtains revealed my brother’s messy bedding, walls covered in posters — Zeppelin to the Pixies, Metallica to Morbid Angel. His floor and desk were equally strewn with empty mugs, greasy plates and cutlery, hand drawn maps of fantasy lands, overflowing ashtrays (at least three of those) and D&D books. My nostrils blended briney sweat, the must of unwashed clothes and stale tobacco into a reek that I barely let myself inhale for fear of choking. Or perhaps it was his imaginary fingers around my neck?

An oasis of tidy, his vinyls were stacked against one wall, plastic sleeves meticulous. I knew most of them from his dinnertime sessions. Black Sabbath — “Paranoid”, Talking Heads — “Stop Making Sense”, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Dire Straits, Split Enz, Judas Priest.


Though jealous of his LPs, they were no use to me, being without a record player in my room. His tape collection, though, was less free from my predation because I could retreat with the family’s portable tape deck.

I went straight for a careless scatter of cassettes on his carpet. Most of them were dubbed off a mate or girlfriend, with scrawled names like “scott’s wicked part one”, “spacey stuff” or “to Yok from Libby”. One caught my eye: “the genius sex dwarf”. What was that all about? I grabbed it and a handful of others impulsively and scarpered before he could return home.


My bedroom was a space where I could dream up a new self, every day. I had draped the walls with mystical velvet hangings and crafted a canopy for my rickety second-hand bed. I’d fashioned my dresser into an altar, bedecked with candles, skulls, charcoal and fragrant herbs set out to dry at cardinal points. Mirrors and chalices to catch moonlight and quill and ink for automatic writing. I wish we’d had digital cameras back then to provide proof of this stuff.

I set candles, burned incense, and in this mystical funk, beneath my admittedly vainglorious canopy, I lay back, eyes closed to tune out the world. “Feeling the music”. (This was something Yok was fond of saying).

I think it was some rather weird guitar drone from Sonic Youth that masked the sound of his footsteps. I later pieced together that actually he had alerted mum and the two, not without an Irish sense of humour, waited outside my room for the best time to sneak in, when the music was loud enough. I didn’t notice the crackle of the hinges as they opened.

His impression of a drill sergeant was legendary in our house-hold and he knew how to use it.

“What the fuck!”

My ears ached at the loudness of his voice, my skin prickled with fright at his apparent nearness, and my eyes flew open. There he was, inches away, veins out, face red, mean smirk somehow still visible around his wide open mouth.

“… are you doing!” he finished, grabbing me by both sides of my collar and twisting mercilessly. He lifted me upright. The canopy above my bed wasn’t very high off the mattress. It tangled around my face. I could barely breathe, nor see him. He gave me a shake.

“That’s my fucking music! Ask first!!”

“Yok!” came the warning voice of my mother.

“OK, fine! I’m sorry!” I shouted back, over the muffling fabric and the sounds of Sonic Youth, quailing from an expected dead arm at least.

“You little shit!” He shouted.

But the blow never came — maybe because of mum’s nearness, or maybe because, as I found out later, he was secretly pleased that his music taste was rubbing off on me. Whatever, instead of thumping me like I probably deserved, he threw me back down on the bed, jabbed the stop/eject button twice and removed his stolen contraband. He grabbed up the others too, then stood and spun around, dreadlocks flying — the sergeant, checking for stragglers. Finding none, he stalked to the door, then paused to survey my room. He saw the altar and sneered.

“You can’t borrow ANYTHING for a MONTH! Stay out of my room!” He stabbed a menacing finger from the doorway, turned away and slammed the door, shutting my mum in the hall, carrying all his tapes with him.

Once my heart-rate slowed a bit, I shakily stood. Mother had left me alone, mercifully.

Sliding canopy fabric along lengths of dowel I’d used as rails, I saw the edge of a cassette sticking out from beneath the altar. He or I must have kicked it there in our haste. All except one eh, Yok?

I retrieved the remaining item. One side was unlabelled. I flipped it in my hand: “the genius sex dwarf”. I slipped it into my pocket, nonchalant with no one around, and carried on tidying my room. Awaiting a better occasion to listen, when I could be sure of my brother’s extended absence.


I’d been dreaming (asleep and awake) about “the girls that tease” for a long few years. Songs like Little Red Corvette removed the need to ask anyone else’s permission for that.

Maybe it was because of the period in my life that I deciphered Prince’s lyrics, or maybe it was a sheer transmission of energy that Prince embodied on radio and television in those late decades of the 20th Century.

But I like to think it was because from that day onward I wasn’t really scared of my brother any more. And despite his threats, in fact he gave me a bit more leeway with his music.

Regardless, whatever it was — all of that probably — the sounds of the Genius Sex Dwarf — Purple Rain, When Doves Cry. Sign o’ the Times. They evoke liberty, passion and potency. A feeling of utter urgency to be heard that was so apparent in Prince’s vocals.

It’s these feelings more than anything else, that will be his legacy to me. I am by no means attempting to be just like him. Even were that possible (let me assure you it is not) God knows, one was enough. But his unapologetic expressiveness is something I do admire, and aspire to. May his particles scatter freely to the four winds.

Oh and one final thing: my brother never cottoned on. To this day I still have that tape in a box of flotsam somewhere.

One by one as they occur


As I worked my way through a ten year career as a software engineer, each trip to the office was accompanied more and more by a sense of regret for what I’d set aside to step into those high-powered cubicles.

The seeds of this regret were sown by my ignorance of life’s transience. I had taken the blessings in my life for granted and unwittingly traded them in. For the innocence I surrendered in order to “get ahead”, I was compensated only with mechanics and logistics.

It’s not just the dryness of programming tasks. It’s the detachment of busy-ness. Doing fifty, sixty hour weeks, again and again, we begin to acknowledge our joys only when they get in the way. We forget that one day they will be gone. We do things that encourage them to leave even faster.

I only saw my son when he needed feeding.

We scour them with our rushed decisions, life scours them and sours them for us. And when it does, we tell them out of hyperwhelm “not right now” and like troopers they soldier onwards and we want to say “wait, I was wrong, come back,” but we are too proud, unwilling to recognise how lost we truly are, and so we daren’t say it loud enough or soon enough to make a difference.

I could see the pattern forming before my itchy, tired eyes: necessarily they move on. Reluctantly, but with a growing confidence, and when they look back they see a path, straight as fate, paved with yellow bricks, and they think “I’m happy with who I am, I’m glad it happened like that, it all turned out for the best”; but we won’t help thinking “I wish I could’ve made that better for us all” once it’s too late.

Fuck that shit, I believe was my general thinking process, as I resigned my contracts and ceased trawling for new ones. I won’t abandon my joys, or my loved ones. Watch me abandon the departure every morning, the late arrival home instead. Abandon the grind that processes my life into monetized units.

It’s not been a materially successful decision. I wasn’t aiming for that. What I was aiming for, was a life lived in recognition of the moments, one by one as they occur. Fitting material needs around recognition of heartache. In holding a space for loving life so much, while knowing that one day I will be gone.

The doctors call it burn out, there’s talk of “recovery”. So that I can get back that 75k per year I’m missing out on.

Whatever. If I only live another thirty seconds, I will die knowing that I was doing what mattered most to me. And that knowledge is not, any longer, for sale.