Lost and meaningless

What’s happening to me?

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I had nightmares of different kind of catastrophes playing out one after the other. As soon as a bus had crashed into a tree, the child I was babysitting got burned due to my first aid inexperience, only to be followed by a whirlpool opening up in Jack’s living room and attempting to swallow up his family. Disaster after disaster exhausted me, and all I could think of was finding a way to call my boss in my dream and tell her I needed a few more hours sleep before coming in late to work due to my catastrophic day.

I’ve been asking some pretty frustrating questions lately. Is this really what I want from life? Working at PICYS is actually my dream job, combining emergency relief, accommodation, life skills, youth work, counselling, drug and alcohol, mental health and non-governmental office work. So why does it stress me out so much?

I was contemplating why it doesn’t satisfy me as a life purpose. I don’t know what to do. I crave for my simpler job at Coles where I knew exactly what I had to do (fill shelves) and what would happen if I didn’t so it (customers couldn’t buy products). I have a nearly identical job at the library, so why don’t I want to do that? I think something about Jude is stressing me out.
So perhaps then I can go back to my roots and pursue something that has always given me pleasure. I could become a Shaolin monk and train for ten hours a day. But what would I be training for? A perfect body and a still mind, but no purpose for either of them? Perhaps the army? But I don’t want to kill strangers because other people tell me to. It goes against everything I’ve ever believed in, and Ajahn Brahm wouldn’t be very proud of me. Perhaps a Buddhist monk then? But I don’t think I could live without Bethwyn…


Time is just Team with an I

Edmund Rice Camps for Kids WA are a kind of retreat for me. It is a time not only to get together with strangers and unite for a greater good (namely the children we take care of and have fun with), but to break away from the pressing needs of life and spend some time doing some good, real, genuine work for people. When I left to go on camp, I hadn’t signed up for half my units at university, I had cancelled some last-minute shifts at work and was trying to give away others and I had a bunch of other things that were looming over me. I dropped them all for about a week, and now that I’m back it’s so hard and kind of pointless to pick them back up.

I’m really, really stressed out at the moment. I have no desire to continue my work at Curtin Library. Under the new management, it’s a slightly tighter ship with less laughs and more punctuality. It’s not totalitarian by any standards, but I’m sensing more and more pressure from my new boss to be more reliable, and rightly so. I feel guilty turning down and giving away so many shifts, but I just started a new job at PICYS and I haven’t exactly been reliable there either. In my first two weeks, I’ve cancelled like three shifts due to illness and camp, which is all very reasonable. But the work is still going on without me, and the longer I’m not a part of it the more I’ll need to catch up on when I get back. Due to working 2.5 days a week, there’s a lot less free time to work at the library and the conflict of occupations is driving me crazy. I can’t fully attend to either, and by chasing two rabbits they’re both tripping me up. But the thing is, working at PICYS, as good as it is, has a pretty significant emotional toll, and every day I feel exhausted. There are things I can do to re-energise myself, but it’s draining. Furthermore, I don’t want to be the president of SWSA anymore. I was kind of pushed into it, but I barely wanted a committee role in the first place, and now to be expected to be president? To seek out opportunities for SWSA to further itself and to fight for the rights of students while organising and hosting events for them? I just don’t want to pick up the extra slack.

What I really, genuinely want right now is some me time. I realised that I’ve been stressed about how much crap I fill my days with. I thought studying part-time would give me more freedom to do the things I love. What it’s created instead is a large vacuum in my schedule which is sucking in everything mildly interesting. I’m not so much doing the things I want to as the things I kind of should, like keeping some friendships going, working more and volunteering for stuff. It’s not bad, it’s just they’re not what I really want to be doing. I want to train. I want to train so badly, just all day and night going hard at it and honing by body, mind and spirit. I want to read, those dozens of books I have. I want to play those hundreds of hours worth of games I’ve collected but barely tapped into. I want to study Sexology and Psychology and Human Biology. But with all this shit that’s been stealing my time, I’m having a lot of trouble focussing on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.

I want to cut back on work. I want out of D&D for a while. I don’t want to go to any conventions of social events unless I choose to go, rather than being obliged to. I want enough space to develop who I am. Maybe I just have to learn to say “No” more. I think I should really investigate this, because I don’t have any time to waste not being happy.

The Queensland Floods

There’s been a lot of reports in the news lately about the events happening in Queensland. I do not watch the news, or read newspapers, or listen to radio, or read internet articles. The reason I know about it is because people everywhere are talking about it. Their hearts are breaking. They are breaking. 15 people killed, 61 missing… Near-total destruction to homes, cars, and livelihood…


I’m having a little trouble empathising. To me, the floods in Queensland are a terrible but natural disaster. There is little that could have been done to stop it, and the people, like the water, must go with the flow. To yield so that they do not break, like grass in a storm. It is part of life, and I am suspicious that it is an indirect cause of human action through things like global warming, chemical pollutants or some other environmentally destructive lifestyle. I do not know for certain, and I am certainly not trying to blame the victims: it is indeed a most tragic and devastating event to effect 30 000 people directly, and many more indirectly. But 15 dead? Really? Is that the death count after the first few days? Let’s assume 100 people die by the end of this… Is that really any kind of dent on the human population? Can it even begin to compare to the 40 000 children that die every day from starvation? (At least, I think it was 40 000. I remember working it out to be one every three seconds. By the time you’ve read this sentence someone else has died of hunger around the world.) Or the person who gets maimed by a landmine every fifteen minutes? The countless deaths caused by preventable disease?


I do not wish to sound heartless, but once again I do not understand what Australia is mourning for. Natural disasters happen across the globe. Human disasters happen everywhere, every moment of the day. Why do we only care when it’s us?


I think that I am a unique person to take so little interest in the world outside my life. News, even news directly affecting me, matters little. I just accept what I hear and I carry on living as  if I hadn’t heard it, or making minor adjustments to my way of life to avoid breaking the new law or to keep slightly healthier. Why doesn’t it make a bigger impact on me??


At any rate, good on anyone who has gone out of their way to contribute to the cause of coming together to heal through love and support. It should be done much more frequently, but it’s a start.

And, at the very least, I think it’s a beautiful way to wash out the house and give everything a fresh start. I doubt the reality is as poetic, but it seems deeply cleansing to me.


I’ve been feeling very unfit the past few weeks over Christmas and in Malaysia. I’ve done barely any exercise or martial training, and as usual, the state of my body when I’m out of training is starting to sadden and frustrate me. I’ve been pushing myself to exercise like crazy the past two days, conditioning the crap out of my shins and forearms (read: bruising them with a glass bottle) and doing both an obstacle course and swimming on the same morning, and I’m still raring to keep training at iaido this afternoon. I have to get moving and whip my body into shape!

Coupled with these feelings are thoughts on what sort of martial art is “best”. This is a question I’ve often thought about, and something I make active choices about each time I start learning a new style. For instance, Taekwondo taught me a lot, but I felt that I could learn more from Karate. Karate has its strengths, but Muay Thai is stronger in certain areas. But then again, the speed and fluidity of Wing Chun can be used to trump even an experienced kickboxer. Yet when taken to the ground by a grappling style like Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, a Wing Chun artist is doomed. Following this chain of thought over and over, one must then ask “Which martial art is worth learning the most?”

But I realised today that a more fundamental question underlies that. That question is “Why do I want to learn martial arts?” There are many reasons, and I feel it is important to identify them.

  • Purely for self-defence.
  • Discipline and strength of body.
  • Art and expression.
  • Showing off and cool party tricks.
  • For domination in sport and exercise.

Different martial arts contribute to each of the reasons. For example, tournament-based TKD is great exercise, and its impressive high kicks can be cool to show off. It tones and stretches the legs and can look beautiful. But in terms of self-defence, my learning was extremely limited. The first time I fought a karateka and they blocked my turning kick to the head, I realised I would not be able to beat him while his guard was up. So maybe I could learn all the arts that interest me, study them for the pleasure of learning. But ultimately what I wish to learn most is an undefeatable art for self-defence. Part of it is the drive to never be beaten when it counts. Tournaments and friendly spars are only indicators of skill- I can lose a thousand of them without shame. But if someone tries to hurt me seriously one day, that is the fight I must train to win. And I guess it frustrates me that I continually find new martial artists whose foreign styles and/or superior skill defeat my own training. What must I learn to be good enough to defend myself from any attack?

Perhaps the most important question is, “Why does it bother me so much?”

At any rate, my late unhealthiness has motivated me to start training more regularly (or at all, for that matter). I’m not sure what sort of exercises I can do, but I need to put my butt in gear and get back on the path of strengthening my body in general. The specifics of what I need (be it horse-riding stance for two hours or enough mass to shatter bricks) can come later, but I have to do something or else I’ll go stir-crazy.

I know the martial arts aren’t for winning. They are, at heart, a way to learn about the world and ourselves. So why am I so restless to be the best? Gahhh I hate these moods but I don’t know how else to get out of them. Maybe some Mugai will help.

Things I’m saving up for

UPDATED 25/11/2014. Good to see that I’ve crossed off some of these items. Also interesting to see that I more-or-less have the same financial goals nearly four years later.

  • Trip to Japan after uni – $5000? (very highly ambitious. I think it came to around $3.5k or so for three weeks. I really can’t remember.)
  • A Japanese tutor
  • A house or apartment for Beth and I
  • Paying off my HECS debt – $10 000+
  • A potential holiday to England and Europe with Eugene for my 21st – $2000-4000
  • A potential holiday to Melbourne with Beth – $2000?
  • A hopeful holiday to Italy
  • A very sincerely planned holiday to Singapore with Beth – $2000?
  • An iaito (~$500) (it was $700)
  • A shinken