The Blog.

How Many Seasons You’re Not Around

My favourite band released a song called “All This Time” yesterday about the singer losing his Dad and it hit me hard. Some tears and words poured out.

My brothers, me and our Dad, Phil, at Bronte Beach. Much of the story of my novel Bronte Bloom is based there, hence the title. Dad is Peter in the book.

Come the end of the year his mind will likely be gone and he won’t remember us anymore. 

I was able to finish and publish the book right as his Alzheimer’s was worsening. He read it three times whilst still possible which I’m deeply glad about.

Maybe because I finally started promoting the book hard, this past month, it’s made me think of him more as well.

As well as being reminded of the core message of the book. Of turning suffering into something meaningful or inspirational. Or at least to make you think about your life and how you want to live it. Been doing a lot of that lately.

Dad’s condition and the accompanying “long goodbye” haven’t been the only tough experiences of the past few years.

Living in Medellin, Colombia all last year or so, I was surrounded by a lot of death, suffering, and cold chaos.

That city is the darkest place you’ll ever live if you’re fluent in Spanish and not deluded. That’s without part taking in any drugs or hookers. Just simply immersing yourself in the city. A place I once adored but no longer do.

Living there, was the closest to death I’ve probably ever come. It was scary. The traumatic events piled up, to the point I had enough and left the country.

Colombia didn’t traumatise me permanently or leave any serious lasting negative effects, however. The opposite. It only further strengthened my resilience. “Traumatic Growth” Psychologists call it I believe.

But not only that. Most of the fear in me was released. There’s not much I am afraid of now. I don’t say that to sound tough. The feeling is just one of peace and liberation.* Something many of us can get.

In Medellin, the seductive “city of eternal spring”, perfect year-round weather, tall luscious green mountains elevating up the stunning valley city, juxtaposed with the dark social activity below the charming surface. Pablo Escobar fucked that place inside and out forever*    

When the eeriness of fellow foreign Westerners getting drugged and killed every week. Or lured by a seductive beauty to a dangerous neighbourhood, kidnapped and stabbed to death, and dumped in a ravine.

That same neighbourhood a seductive beauty invited you up to not long before. But instead, a great night had. In the spare room of her Auntie’s house, door half ajar, you smoke and kiss by the window. Hands spill all over. She pulls her body suit aside. Her adult family drink, party and dance to blaring salsa music in the living room beside, none the wiser.

The same one that got involved with an unhinged narco at the end. Forced to go on the run when he threatened to murder her. Going through and threatening every male Facebook friend of hers.

Knowing that she was also “talking to somebody, but he’s not Colombian”. You can’t trust that she didn’t tell him your name. Only hope. Lucky you’re not on that list.

He calls the gangs who control her neighbourhood, eyes everywhere. You hope you weren’t seen that night at her Auntie’s place. Especially by the window. 

You hope she wasn’t spotted when sneaking to your neighborhood when she came to tell all. A paranoid chill runs down your spine when her taxi pulls up, sensing something is off after saying she needed to explain her two week disappearance.

One more savage fuck of course, in typical fashion. The goodbye you both didn’t know but did.

“Forgive me for everything”, she says for the first and only time those past 24 terrifying, rollercoaster hours, just as she’s leaving, after spilling all her stupidity.

You hate the crazy bitch for risking your life like that. Yet still have love in your heart for the past year shared.

After that kind of shit, something starts to happen to you.

From your apartment, you hear 12 loud, rapid gunshots from a shootout in the mall behind that you walk through every day. In the aftermath, you see bullet hole spider webs in the shop windows, and a large pool of blood on that familiar ground wondering whether that thief or hitman died or not. There’s a lot of blood.

Or your mate’s apartment in your building catching fire from a faulty refrigerator.

Or the dime-piece web cam girl you’re infatuated with has gone cold. The sex and chemistry meant nothing to her. One sided. You know it’s her job to coldly extract thousands of dollars from men online, but you thought because she fucked you, she *

She’s under your skin like you are under that of the other that you don’t want, simultaneously. It’s a sick game.

You watch the apartment burn from the ground below. Including the relationships with both flames. You never see either of them again.

All that same week. Layer upon layer.

After that, something starts to happen to you, through you, and you’re rocked. 

The fear and pain get deep in your bones and you want to run. It’s confronting. But I found that if you sit with the terror, pain, anxiety and fear, before long, it melts away. And does so quicker each time something similar happens, as you observe what you are truly made of. 

Something incredibly durable.

And when you finally arrive back in a safe environment, there’s nothing that can scare you anymore. There’s nothing that can break you.

After trying to settle your confused and frantic father, who’s panicking, crying and wanting to leave the unknown room he’s just been placed in alone, and begging to be taken home, after hanging up the phone, you’re bawling your eyes out alone in the dark living room.

After enough times, something starts to happen.

If you let them, those hardships make you stronger. Or at the least, when you deal with tough things, everything else feels lighter.

There might be extra layers of sadness or grief, but the weights that are preventing your growth, lessen. 

The greater the hardship, the lighter I feel.

Forged by the fire in the Balkans all those years ago, dealing with the suicide of my old friend Dylan, as well as Bourdain, an idol. Sensitive scars.

Alone for most of that year. In vague run-down ex-Yugoslavian cities. In vague run-down apartments. Dealing with a harsh pain like no other. Just me, my laptop and a Word document. 

Bronte Bloom was written during that time. From all that pain. All those tears. All that grief. Deep sentimental words.

All the while learning to cold approach. Getting rejected and destroyed by some of the most attractive women in the world. Losing. In humiliating and spectacular fashion. The vehicle that carried me through it all. That was the win.

That period set the foundation for my pain tolerance. And with that the more the fear drained out, the freer I felt and the more honest I could start living.

That’s the feeling of peace and liberation I mentioned. And I feel good.

At almost 34, I have been thinking about the dullness of life in general too lately. The monotonous day-to-day grind, much of it just to appear to others as though you’re not a “loser”. 

Every day for the past month or so, as I blast snippets of my work on social media, it reminds me more and more of the feeling that writing and literature give me.

Many people my age are aiming at other things like work, making money, career, marriage, kids, houses. I don’t think it’s for me.

“I don’t get it.” – someone close to me recently said about such things. I do get what he meant. Doesn’t do much for my soul.

All of the above combined have made me ponder deeply a lot of late.* I’m realising that I want to do things in life that I can “do forever”.

Charles Bukowski once put it: “Find what you love and let it kill you.”. For him, it was writing. For me, I think it’s the same.

And after all of the brutal experiences of the past few years, I don’t feel afraid anymore. Of failing. Of being a “loser”. Of not having money. Of no more hot birds*. Of not having kids. Of not having my writing succeed. Of dying.

Most of the fear is gone. And I think I’m gonna go for it. Just write. Novels. Poems. Film. I’ll do it. The way that I truly want. Utterly raw and unfiltered. Whatever the consequences.

If you are feeling the same, and there is something you want to do I think you should go for it. I think you should find what you love and let it kill you.

We owe that to ourselves and those we love. Your mind might only be online for a few more decades or years until you’re logged off.

So do what your soul is calling for and what your gut is telling you to. They’re never wrong.

And don’t take your parents for granted either. Even if they infuriate you, one day you will miss them and for that too.

I’m doing good Dad. Going to start my next novel very soon. Think you would have liked it.

Love you.

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