The Key

The Key

The Key

Sweat ran down the back of my neck as I clicked the padlock closed on the hot storage unit that now housed all my belongings.

“I’ll only be gone for a month,” I’d told my friends, knowing full well the key to this padlock might not be used for eternity.

A week earlier I’d climbed onto the usual E50 bus to North Sydney. The same commuters silently thumbing their iPhones, scowling when someone dared to assault the silence by answering a call. Even a whispered “I’m on the bus, I’ll call you back in forty five,” was dealt a series of eye rolls and snorts.

The miserable commute a preview of the depressing workday ahead. The company I worked for dying a slow and painful death. I wanted it euthanised. But euthanasia meant more than the death of someone else’s business. It meant a loss of purpose and livelihood for many. And in a city where housing prices were skyrocketing, it meant the potential loss of the tiny patch of beachside paradise I’d desperately clutched onto during a series of disasters; the last tiny glimmer of light in the looming darkness.

“There’s no money left,” my wild-eyed boss ran his hands across his bald scalp. “I can’t pay anyone this week.”

For months I’d watched reruns of this scene. When would it end? When would he put the knife in and let the damn business die?

While he held on with white knuckled refusal, so, unfortunately, did I. I wanted it to end, but I didn’t. An end here would be the earthquake that triggered the tsunami of my life.

At lunchtime I walked the same route past the monotonous shops, wearing my now permanent look of despair. My mind racing. Wanting it over. Not wanting the repercussions.

“What do I do? I don’t know what to do. What do I do? I don’t know what to do.”

In tears I phoned my brother. Blubbering the lyrics of the high rotation tape in my head. So many jobs ending in disaster. So many times my life smashed to pieces. The goddess, Kali, on the warpath, was sending the world crashing down around my ears. Again.

“I know you hate asking for help,” he said. “Especially from family. But that’s what we’re here for. Let us be your safety net. Just come up to Coffs.”

“I can’t!” I wailed. “My life is here. My friends are here. I can’t ask for help. It’s not meant to be like this. I’m supposed to do it myself!”

“You keep repeating the same patterns,” he said. “The same jobs, same relationships, same lifestyle. Break the pattern. Do something different. Ask for help.”

Six months on, cold rain ran down the back of my neck as I entered the storage facility. Hands shaking, the padlock clicked open. I knew full well the key to this padlock marked a painful ending, and the spark of a surprising new adventure.

~~~~~

This story first appeared on ABC Open.

Image: Efrén Rodríguez Fotografía

Advertisements

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Get off your butts!

In the spirit of adventure I’ve decided it’s time to buy myself a sleeping bag, some hiking boots and an enamelware cup and head out on a microadventure. “What the hell is a microadventure?” I hear you ask. I’m not quite sure yet, but I stumbled upon the idea today and it sounded good! So it seems that here in Australia we’re a bit behind the times. (Or maybe it’s just me). But there’s a movement happening across the globe right now that’s getting people off their butts, out of their houses and making the most of the 5 to 9 outdoors.

Alastair Humphreys, National Geographic’s 2012 Adventurer of the year (see how behind the times I am!) seems to have been pushing the idea for years, and I’m wondering why I’ve never heard about it. Especially with people heading out to fantastic destinations close to home; jumping on a train and heading out for a slice of rural adventure, walking down to a local beach or through a national park. Alastair Humphreys even microadventured alongside England’s M25 motorway! It certainly sounds a lot easier than climbing Everest, or setting out on a polar expedition. Although, that could be fun too. And with so much access to nature, even within the walls of Sydney, there’s really no excuse not to have a microadventure, is there?

Climb Every Mountain

Climb Every Mountain

Perhaps the reason for my lack of microadventure knowledge is because I’m a camp-o-phobe. There’s a good reason for my fear of camping. Rain. Whenever I’ve gone camping it has rained. Every. Single. Time. Seriously.

When I’d finished high school, some friends and I went on a road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay. Only we didn’t make it to Byron. The car broke down in Coffs Harbour. We had to camp there for days. Days. In the rain. There was so much rain, in fact, that by about day 3, there were ducks swimming past our tent. As my family can attest, I was none impressed and vowed never to set foot in Coffs Harbour again. Now half the bastards have moved there, so I don’t have any choice! Not that it’s a problem though. Because I don’t have to camp there anymore. But I’m thinking it might be a nice spot to go for my first microadventure. As Alastair Humphreys says:

Adventure is a state of mind.

And I think my mind is (almost) made up. How about yours?

 

Just in Case You Were Wondering Where I’ve Been

I’ve been soaking up the creative vibes around town, seeking new grist for the mill. Being inspired left, right and smack-bang in the middle by the sights, sounds and deliciousness of the seemingly hidden inner-city haunts of Sydney.

Eternity Playhouse

Eternity Playhouse

But first let me ask you, when was the last time you went to the theatre? If you’ve never been, you should do yourself a favour and get thee to the box office and hand over thy coins. My lovely friend, Krystyna and I traipsed down to the Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst on Saturday night to see The Young Tycoons. What a joy it was to return to an old love of ours and reminisce about our days as prop-bitches and wannabe actors. All the while being treated to a thinly veiled stab at the Packers and Murdochs of the world. The smooth sounds of alfresco guitar and cajon drum, the backdrop to deep conversations about the meaning of life, Kevin McCloud and deliberately mismatched shoes. Every night should be a creative inner-city adventure (with the Tom-Tom at the ready).

Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect

Inner-city underground prohibition-era bars are the perfect way to end a Sunday that has been jam-packed full of plotting and planning and panicking about art. With Palmer & Co‘s cool live 1920’s jazz, flapper dresses and black suspenders, you cannot dare to tell me you’re not ensconced in a den of creativity. Or a Woody Allen film. Kicking back with a smooth Argentinian Malbec, Ronan and I managed to exhale after a killer day, finally understanding that spontaneous creativity requires some majorly control-freakish planning!

Palmer & Co

Palmer & Co

How do you deal with your creative deadlines? Do you just throw caution to the wind and hope the muse will guide you through (and just in the nick time)? Do you whip up a spreadsheet and break down your story into cellular components, knowing that by the time you get to cell J45, your main character will be facing their final battle? Do you throw a dart and just see where it lands? Or do you follow your compass to the Nth degree, minute and second?

However you do it, so long as you’re doing it, has got to be alright with me. What are you creating right now? Drop me a line and let me know.