all my heroes are weirdos

We're All Mad Here

2018: Year of the Shark

Right about now I’ll be giving a silent but emotional nod to 2018.

Exactly 365 days ago, I could feel it in my stomach and I couldn’t stop telling everybody; this year was going to be about change, colossal change.

There was a tidal wave of transformation headed my way and I knew it. I could tell that whatever it was, it was about to obliterate the life that I knew and I would be born again.

At the time, my brain was interpreting my stomach’s signals as the move to Hong Kong with work as this gateway for change. It was going to be a move to the East, a promotion and a city full of like-minded souls.

But oh how wrong I was.


Looking back on it now that it’s drawing to a close, I can quite honestly say that 2018 has been one of, if not the most transformative year of my life so far.

It started off on a slow but continued climb with several minor fall backs but never a dramatic drop. I’d veered so far off track in previous years that I was translucent, but with every day that passed I became more and more visible.

I was on an upward trajectory of goodness and I knew that I was about to get back to that person who is at the core of me, the one who wanted to see the world, have an exciting career and make every day an adventure.

The move to Hong Kong gave me something to aim for, a purpose, a raison
d’être  and played a big role in how and why I kept going with the climb, no matter how steep it was at times.

When that opportunity was pulled away from me with a few nonchalant words, it wasn’t actually disappointment or despair that I felt. It was a burning fire in my stomach that made me run seventeen kilometres without stopping before coming home to write my letter of resignation.

That was the burning fire of liberation.

I was free from the puppet masters’ strings, and I then had a blank canvas on which I could scribble out my next chapter.


There have been so many drastic reforms in my life this year that I feel like Myanmar when the military rule was abolished and the new government came in with policy reforms covering every aspect of life.

I’ve made huge strides forward in my cognitive rewiring, mental wellbeing and self-development. I’ve overdosed on Google tabs to the point of cranial explosion. I’ve written about nine hundred million words at the speed of light. I’ve made new friends and old friends and witnessed a mind-blowing amount of kindness from strangers and I’ve wanderlusted my way through places I never really knew existed before.

I’ve done my very best, at least most of the time, to be doing good stuff to be a better me.

All of these changes came from one simple action – I pressed the factory setting reset button on life. I re-evaluated everything and from that point on, every big decision I’ve made has been a conscious one.


So it’s on New Year’s Eve this year that I want to leave you with an impactful speech from a really mediocre film starring George Clooney called Up In The Air, which perfectly and poignantly questions the Things and People that make up our existence.

It’s basically a long and wordy but thought-provoking reset button which could help you march forth into 2019 carrying a lighter load.

How much does your life weigh?

Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ’em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life.

You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers, the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens, your TV.

The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger.

Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack.

Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it?

This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living.

Now, I’m gonna set that backpack on fire. What do you want to take out of it? Photos? Photos are for people who can’t remember. Drink some ginkgo and let the photos burn. In fact, let everything burn and imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing.

It’s kind of exhilarating, isn’t it?

Now, this is gonna be a little difficult, so stay with me. You have a new backpack. Only this time, I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office, and then you move into the people that you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your cousins, your aunts, your uncles, your brothers, your sisters, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend or your girlfriend.

You get them into that backpack. And don’t worry. I’m not gonna ask you to light it on fire. Feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake – your relationships are the heaviest components in your life.

Do you feel the straps cutting into your shoulders?

All those negotiations and arguments, and secrets and compromises. You don’t need to carry all that weight. Why don’t you set that bag down?

Some animals were meant to carry each other, to live symbiotically for a lifetime – star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals. The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not  swans. We’re sharks.

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1 Comment

  1. Alan Aspey 31 December 2018

    This is how Oliver and I welcomed the Year of the Shark.
    Happy New Year
    Uncle Alan

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