Saturday, 21 October 2017

[ passion ]

Passion; a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate. A strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything. An outburst of strong emotion or feeling.

That's the literal definition of what passion is. Strong emotion, strong feelings. A forcible enthusiasm for something or someone. But that doesn't quite cover it, not really.

Passion is the bloom of warmth in your chest when you discover your greatest ability in this life. It's the butterflies in your stomach when your crush is near. It's that visceral jolt when your heart is broken by reality.

It's that quiet, fierce intensity you've developed over years, decades perhaps, for something or someone, pursued with your undivided attention, unsure of success, always pursuing, no matter what the cost, no matter the time it takes.

Passion is a quintessential element of our natures; it defines who we are as beings. The depth of it, the lack of it, the level we display it at. It is a seeking, a searching, a constant need.

Sometimes we deride those who we deem have too much of it. Sometimes we dismiss those we believe are without it. Passion - or deficiency of - makes us do strange and wondrous things, and in turn see ourselves as strange and wondrous.

It is a deeply personal thing, and therefore means we search long and arduously for understanding, for recognition, or even just a reflection; the same contained or unrestrained depth of feeling in others as ourselves.


The level of importance to us also depends solely on the individual. Some value integrity and confidence over passion; the quiet walk through life. Some prefer to see emotion written clearly in the atmosphere and enjoy the taste of it on their tongue, the rush of it through their system. 

Some even enjoy the combination, preferring to judge the moment and the circumstance, weighing up what is appropriate at the time. 

Passion is hard to define, but easy to eliminate. A relationship going sour can be described as no longer having passion, a job becoming tedious can be said to have the passion drained out of it. 

When we feel the emotion sucked out of anything, we blame it on lack of passion. Conversely, when a situation becomes too heated, the opposite can be said to be true; we've become too passionate, too involved in the issue.

Passion colours everything. Even if is only to display the absence of it.  


The fervour of such feeling changes with age. Not to say it necessarily gets stronger, but it certainly evolves over time. 

What was once the height of joy in years past, can now seem like an amusing phase that you cannot recollect such depth of response to. The opposite is also true; a passing fancy now engrosses you in a way you couldn't fathom. 

It grows, it evolves, and it also dies. Sometimes harshly, sometimes softly. It changes because you change.


Mark Manson hit a high note when he wrote Find What You Love and Let It Kill You; a piece he wrote around finding what gives your life passion and purpose, and doing it over and over again. Then doing it some more, screwing it up, adjusting, and continuing on. 

The key note here was that you had to keep doing it because you love it. Really, utterly love it. Be committed to it like you are to staying upright and staying in motion. 

Because here's the thing; no one wakes up one day and finds they can be content focusing on one thing day after day, year after year. You do it because you are passionate about it. And that passion consumes, because you know that fulfilment doesn't come without a price. Love doesn't come without pain, happiness doesn't come without tears, and satisfaction doesn't come without blood. 

The other thing is this; when you don't know what you're looking for, you have to look absolutely everywhere and try absolutely everything. No one draws you a map or hands you a guidebook. You can't check your own software and see the programming path. 

You have to hunt and seek and throw yourself into every crevice without a rope or even a hope of ever getting back out. You have to find that thing, make peace with the fact that it may never be exactly what you thought it would be, and build on it. 

Every day. Every time it comes to mind. Until it has a spirit of its own. Until it breathes life into you. See it what it is, and not what you thought it would be.

And then keep working on it. Keep changing. Keep evolving your passion. 


River of Dreams - Billy Joel

Monday, 9 October 2017

[ team spririt? what, you mean like a bramble royale*? ]

In high school, I didn't really get into team sports. It's not that I wasn't any good, I just wasn't very keen.

As a rule, P.E. enforced the mandatory Wednesday afternoon of dressing in the teenage version of gym gear (dorkier than the grown up version, but not by much), and toddling off to your elected sport for a few hours.

Invariably, I found myself rather adept at certain exercises year after year. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm dipped lower and lower, until, upon reaching years 11 and 12, I discovered we could do things like archery or just take the afternoon off as 'free periods'. Sweet!

Don't get wrong, I nailed it at soccer and hockey; I was never going to be the biggest or strongest, but I was always the fastest, and that was the key. And I certainly enjoyed running around, smashing things, and being good at something.

It's just I could never really get into the competitive side of sports; being better than the other team, pitting myself against my opposite player in the opposing side, revving up for a crushing game to defeat other schools.

Honestly, I had enough energy for my teenage angst, and that was about it.

It's really no surprise then that as an adult, I don't do team sports of any variety. Regrettably, I do occasionally have to encourage others to be interested in such things, and that's where it gets a bit awkward.

As someone who doesn't often engage in common competitive activities, it's hard to display that sort of ambition in the same way as a traditional sport would. So I've had to find other things to compare it to.

I mean, I have encyclopedic knowledge of Osher Gunsberg's wardrobe. I can tell you three different versions of pretty much any childhood fairytale you can name. And, generally, no one has eaten more desserts - nor tasted more flavours of same - than me (Adriano Zumbo and Katherine Sabbath would be so proud).

So, theoretically, I understand and can engage in some healthy rivalry, depending on the topic. And, lest I be mistaken, I like watching sport every now and then (though don't get me started on rugby not being what it was like when I was a kid. No one has time for that). I just can't necessarily activate it on queue.

Hey, let's all play touch football at lunch!

Let's not; I don't run unless something is chasing me, and I'll choose eating over running any day of the week.

Ooh, weekend cricket is coming up, who's in? 

Definitely not me. I'm already pasty without the assistance of cricket whites, and can't imagine something more dull and unhealthy than hours and hours standing around in direct sunlight.

Look, they have competitive frisbee now! That looks so fun!

No, it does not. It looks like an excellent way to encourage a variety of injuries, not least of which would be full-body collision followed by concussion. Considering my already exceptional ability to injure myself with everyday household items, perhaps we might skip the addition of running, looking up and not where I'm going, as well as jumping, to my repertoire of ways to maim myself.


Anyway. Now that we are coming into the warmer months, I think it's important to be active and get outside. I think a certain amount of vitamin D and fresh air are essential.

I just don't think we should all do it together. In a huddle. Or a group. Or dressed in outfits I wouldn't be caught dead in, even for Halloween (dead cheerleaders aside, obviously).

In terms of activities that we can all enjoy, I invite you to attempt the following with me...

Netflix marathons. The lazy of lazy sports. That being said, let us not underestimate the skill required to sit and concentrate intently through 5-straight hours of House of Cards, American Horror Story, or - ehem! - Hallmark specials. I watched all of season 1 of Frontier in one weekend. As well as cleaning my car, going shopping, and even peopling (read = socialising). Beat that!

Carb loading. I can eat around 3kgs of pasta in one sitting, if I'm feeling really competitive. And not be sick. And drink booze. And walk myself home (read = no one carries me, yay!). What's your special power?

Speaking of scoffing carbs, one of my ultimate goals in life is to eat my body weight in jelly. Preferably port wine flavour, but mango or quandong will do just as well. During the holiday season, I eat a whole fruit pudding to myself - with custard - every week until the 2nd week of January. I know, impressive, right? You should see how much ham I can get through.

Moving on.

When you were a kid, arts and crafts were the height of creative output. Macaroni masterpieces, clay 'animals' (yea, absolutely, totally a frog...), papier-mache. For some of us, the skills stuck and metamorphed into a weird aptitude for making anything out of, well, anything. Think of it like the MacGyver of the domestic world.

Last month, I made an entire robot costume from aluminium foil, silver duct tape, wooden skewers, and some leftover silver satin. Before that, a Japanese ghost costume from cobwebs, a black wig, some ripped red fabric, eyeliner, and talcum powder mixed with concealer.

Finally, should you be so brave to ask, I can convert your house into almost any theme you can think of, using what you already have there. Eat your heart out, Rockwell!

As an entirely underestimated skill, I invite you to attempt another one; matching. Sounds deceptively simple, doesn't it? It is - deceptive that is. You'd be amazed how hard it is to match food, clothes, colours, scents, and a variety of other things people like to put together.

It's not quite as straightforward as you hope food and wine matching is (actually, they've made it harder), so when given the question of red meat with what?, people instantly feel like answering red wine is a trick. 

Yours truly, for reasons best left unknown really, can match pretty much anything. I kid you not. Clothes, food, scents. Car colours to personalities. Whitegoods to kitchen styles.

Stationery items. Phone types. Coffee choices.

I'd blame (or commend really) the OCD for this strange little quirk, but as it seems to have given me a bizarre edge overall, I've gone with labelling it a 'skill'. If you can outdress, out-colour-code, or out-match me in any way, I'll buy you matching coffee mugs. On an appropriately matched occasion, obviously.


At any rate, for all of you super keen to get out in the sparkling bright sunshine this Summer, don't take this the wrong way, but...

Should you, however, decide that competitive axe-throwing is your thing, I'm in. Feel like seeing how many dumplings you can cram in before you have to roll to your car? Also me. 

Want to sit quietly inside, glaring at the outdoors like the humidity is an affront to your humanity, and everything good disappeared with the last chill day? Call me, I know all the best pizza places within a 25km radius. 

And I can bring matching beers. 


*Bramble Royale: 45ml gin, 15ml lemon juice, 15ml blackberry liqueur, top with sparkling wine, garnish with blackberries and a lemon slice. Perfect for cheering on English football.