It’s Complicated. Actually, It’s Not.

not complicated
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Layered and textured.

A million moving parts, all intricately put together.

Depths that unfold the greater the exposure you have to me.

I thought I would find the fullest, richest, most rewarding version of myself when I understood how complicated I was.

I believed, or at least hoped for dear life, that I was, in fact, complicated.

As Ezra Furman says in his song, Lousy Connection, I wanna see myself from the outside.

My surface is just for show – an easy smile; an accepting look; unruffled and unshaken by an unexpected turn of events.

Then there’s what’s going on underneath – an instinctive understanding of your motives; perception and foresight; a knowledge of the ages that will neuter the immediacy of your needs.

In high school, specifically Year 11 and 12, I would walk around the halls with my headphones on, pretending, yes pretending, to listen to music. Pretending to be lost in my own world.

Why?

Well, AA batteries were expensive and my Walkman chewed through them with never-sated appetite.

Also, I wanted people to notice me and wonder what I was listening to, this kid who defied No Walkman at School rule.

Even in free study periods. I’d be sitting next to my friends in a classroom while everyone else revised through practice test sheets or read and reread their notes for an upcoming exam, questions and answers flying around the room in a randomly conducted cacophony. I’d have my headphones on and be staring off into space, acting like I was in my own world, making it seem like I considered that what was going on here was inconsequential to me.

I was tending to more serious issues, contemplating life and the universe and my place within it all.

But not really.

Really, I was wondering who was paying attention to me; what were others thinking about my affect?

In Year 8 through 10 I got into the bad habit of wagging school. I wouldn’t take whole days off. I didn’t have the balls for that. What I would do is go to roll-call, sign in, attend classed up to recess or maybe even lunch and then soon after, along with a friend or two, we’d sneak out the back of the school into the labyrinthine streets of St Clair and off home. Mostly my motivations were too spark the curiosity of my classmates. To have them whisper to one another, Where’s Ken? He was definitely in 4th Period English.

What a badass. What a rogue operator.

I didn’t fully get this at the time – what I mean is that I didn’t have a name for this type of behaviour.

I do now – passivity.

I hoped what I couldn’t do while physically present, my absence would make up for. I imagined myself the centre of attention without being there.

This says a lot for how I valued myself at the time, that I assessed my worth by the impact my absence had. It was all I had, absence.

My point of difference.

My unique selling-point.

I needed a strong enough reason to stay and during those days, struggled to find anything to hold on to.

I eventually did find a reason to stay but even then I still enacted certain behaviours that served to put up barriers between myself and others and create separation.

I wanted to be there, but it was hard to be there in my skin.

The clearest example to can link this to is when I was twelve. There was this girl I had a crush on, Phillippa. Funny thing was, she had a crush on me too and she was open about it. She was the pursuer. She’d come up to me in the school yard and tell me she liked me and ask if I liked her?

I’d play coy.

She’d write me a note and pass it to me in class. Will you be my boyfriend?

I’d nearly pee myself.

But I liked her, so of course I wanted to be her boyfriend. And more than that I didn’t want her to be anyone’s girlfriend.

The thing was, I loved being pursued. I got a kick out of the attention.

And it was the same in Year 8 when I wagged off class.

It was equally as true in Year 12 when I sat in the Year 12 Common Room surrounded by my friends with a pair of headphones over my ears.

I wanted to be pursued.

I wanted to do things that made people gravitate towards me.

I just had no idea how to do this.

In the end when any attention came, I resented it.

You’re not the person I wanted to talk to me.

You’re not asking me the right questions.

You’ve distracted me.

You’re attracting unwanted attention in this direction.

No, no, no, no, no, no.

This attention made me feel awkward and exposed.

Nothing I did seemed to fit. Nothing seemed to work for me.

It was as if I was walking through life wearing the wrong size pair of shoes – some days they were too tight, other days too loose and slipping off.

I went ‘round in circles getting closer to no-one. Getting further away from myself. Becoming the person I thought I needed to be – someone else.  Not following my gut instinct. Second guessing myself. Trying to become but spiralling in unfocused directions.

I thought my truth was in being complicated, mysterious, enigmatic, aloof.

But I’ve come to understand that my truth is very far from this place.

These past years have been about uncomplicating myself.

Taking apart any fixed notion I’ve held of who I am.

I thought because I aspired to be a writer, depth of character meant being in possession of an intellect that set me apart, placed me above others.

Only by turning myself into a human Rubix Cube would I then be able to put something of worth on the page.

The reality is I’m not complicated at all.

I don’t always understand myself completely. Sometimes I betray my feelings or my intention by taking an unjustified contrary and stubborn position. There are times I make things harder for myself (and as a result those around me) than they need to be.

I’m quite simple when it comes down to it.

I need love. I need attention. I need to feel like I’m making a difference in the world around me. Seeing progress being made is essential. I have to believe I’m consistently contributing to making myself better and better and better.

I’ve spent so many years tying myself up in knots only to spend these days unravelling the tangled ball of wool I’ve wrapped around me.

Life doesn’t have a Ctrl-Z to undo previous actions, erase past behaviours and unhelpful patterns from my journey. All I can do is make sure each sentence I write is as clear, clean and true as I can make it.

And what ends up on the page is as close to whom I am as I can write it.

Seek Forgiveness, Not Permission

forgiveness permission
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It’s a theme.

It reoccurs.

Somewhere in my programming is this line of code that activates when I have an idea. The idea generates and little mind minions pop it in my brain’s suggestions box. Then at some point in the non-specified future, I’ll receive a reply, that sounds something like this:

‘Ken, Idea #45Gj0AA is a go, repeat, is a GO.’

That’s me made up.

Off on an approved path, with all the requisite validation and official stamps I need to get me through the necessary security checkpoints, past the permission police.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

There are flaws. I’ve got two issues here:

  1. I’m not a natural asker; and
  2. The world isn’t often a Yes, and… place

It a self-worth thing. I’m forever waiting to be told I’m a good boy, to be told my idea is a good one and applauded before I’ve even done anything about it.

There’s a cycle that goes like this:

 

An idea is had -> Excitement is felt -> Some brainstorming is done -> Notes are taken ->

A connection to the great EVERYTHING in the universe is momentarily experienced ->

An ambitious next-step is devised -> Then the notion that I should seek permission arises -> Momentum slowly drains from the venture like a body dehydrating during a long bushwalk on an extremely hot and humid day.

And I’m back at the beginning again.

Here’s an example:

Towards the end of 1996 I wrote my first short story, To The End. Soon after, in early 1997 I wrote another, Sunday, Sunday. Later that year I began a novel, (!) Bang which would take me about a year to write. By the end of 1998 I had started in earnest on For Tomorrow, as well as having sketched out ideas for another novel, Chemical World.

Have you picked up the link between all the story titles yet?

Yes? No? No matter.

They are all Blur song titles. That was my thing you see. I’d decided all my fiction would be named after different Blur song titles. Maybe at some point I would incorporate a Radiohead song or two because they’re influence was growing on me. But Blur, mostly Blur was where my head was at.

I can see now it was about who I was trying to align myself with to give my work, and myself, a clear and definable identity.

Listen to Blur’s songs.

Read my stories.

See? See? You get it right?

So as a permission seeker, what did I do around the middle of 1997?

I found Blur’s official website, went to the contact page and completed the ‘Contact Us’ form.

 

Dear Blur (these are not the exact words – they are in fact a rather sharp and self-critical retrospective rehash)

I am a writer. I am the same as you. I use your song titles as the names of all my stories. I would be more than happy to send you a sample of these if you like. How about To The End or Sunday, Sunday?

Are you okay with this? For me to use your song titles to name my stories, not to send you in a copy of one of them, or both – I could do that. I’m not worried about the cost of postage – I have part-time job you see.

I plan to have a long and successful career as a novelist who writes sharply about the heart of humanity whilst existing on the fringes of it, and it’s important at the outset that I get your approval so that down the road when I am as well read as you are listened to there is no conflict between us. You mean too much to me for there to be anything but mutual respect, understanding and acceptance between us.

Please let me know at your earliest convenience. I will wait for your response before proceeding too far down this path.

I look forward to a long and meaningful connection with you and your body of work. Who knows, in time maybe we will collaborate and one of your songs may come from one of my stories and the symbiosis between us strengthening until it’s considered I’m like the faceless fifth member of the band. Did I mention you’ve inspired me to learn guitar because you published the chords to each song in your CD liner notes?

Thank you Blur. I love you Blur.

Ken

Wake the fuck up dude.

Okay.

Deep breath.

It only takes six consecutive deep breaths to change your state – I do this quite a lot.

The good news is I don’t hate, and am no longer bitterly angry at, my much younger self. It wasn’t his fault. He was just naïve and didn’t have the savviness to know he needn’t give a fuck and simply plough ahead regardless.

The difference between then and now is I tell myself just to proceed anyway. No-one is waiting for whatever it is I write other than one person – me. So just get on with it, whatever it is.

If I ever produce anything that might actually make it into the world, let those issues be dealt with then. Don’t let them hold me up at the beginning because they are just EXCUSES. My Worry Bug is looking for reasons not to try and, therefore, to prevent me from the embarrassment and shame of failure.

Fuck succeeding, just don’t expose yourself. Great life lesson.

If I’d told that girl who approached me in the basketball stadium back in 1991, ‘No, I don’t want to meet your friend,’ the whole Hi, my name’s Ken… incident would never have happened. (that’s to come – don’t worry)

But that’s not how I want to live. I’ve always wanted unexpected things to pop up that lead to great adventures.

Saying yes is, sure, daunting, nut it’s much more fun. And fun should be had, as often as possible.

Now I know permission begins with me. So, I tell myself to just get on with it and be what may if anything happens down the line. I’m not letting the fear of anticipation rule me anymore.

Keeping It Correct

keeping it correct
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So, I fold my t-shirts and underwear in a very particular way, every week. They all get folded in the same manner each time there’s a clean load ready to be put away. And once folded they go into their particular drawer, placed in nice, tidy clean rows, the underwear rotated so the oldest unworn pair is at the top and the just-washed pairs at down the bottom. My t-shirts are folded down to the size and dimensions of an A4 business envelope and placed on top of one-of-three stacks in the drawer second form the top.

 

This is order.

This is method.

This is containment.

 

What am I containing?

My inner turmoil.

The sense that shit might get of control.

Only by consistently following this practice of how my socks, boxers, t-shirts, shorts, business shirts, trousers and shoes are all stored away, keeps me on the right side of sane. Otherwise, it’s all just fucking meaningless, random chaos, right?

This seemingly benign system is in fact a complete infrastructure designed to protect me, giving me the feeling that control something I wield.

Within the system, everything is kept together. Repetition. Expectancy. Certainty.

Leaving as little to chance as I can in areas within my circle of control.

I’m buffering my choices, safe-guarding against decision fatigue.

What’s wrong with a little mindless autopilot?

It’s so taxing to be present all the time. Presence is a gift and therefore it’s also a weight and weights can only be carried for too long before they begin to grind and crush.

So, tread lightly and find respite when and where you can.

Order, sanity, control, they are held close, but loosely in the little rituals and habits I have formed. Limit the unexpected when I can. Reduce the uncertainty. Reinforce that there are things I can know and I know them because I created the conditions for knowing, and if I created any conditions that exist beyond the moment they were created, then I am, in fact a god, because to be a god is to be a creator.

And if I am a god, well then, I have sway and power in my realm. It’s like the reveal of a magic trick each time I avail of the system. At the opening of each drawer you can almost hear the low whisper of the Universe saying, hocus pocus, and when I pull out the drawer, Ta-da!

The mysteries of the universe revealed.

No slippages. No breaks. No nasty little surprises.

Just order and everything in the place it is meant to be.

The system delivers. The system protects. The system contains.

So, I continue to fold and put away my clothes in this way, all the time, no matter how tired I’m feeling or how many other things I think I need to do. Nothing gets put away until it’s been folded just right. That way, there’s always some corner of the world that is in obeyance with the universal laws that emanate from me. These drawers and hanging system are an external manifestation of the order and containment I seek in my life and the world around me as I pass through it.

At times I feel blind – emotionally, scared by the unknown, unwritten future. What else are these safety rails for, if not to help guide me through dark episodes?

In the places I am still unformed and as I moved through spaces that are undefined to me any familiarity, any indicator of certainty is a most welcome respite. Each instance, a little flare of light, popping and exploding in a bright burst of light around me, showing me I am not in fact blind, but that the world around me is dark and there are things I can do to help light the way.

Containment, order, habit are just some of the ways I do this.

My underwear. My socks. My t-shirts. My shoes. My shorts. My business shirts and trousers.

May they continue to be beacons in the night, their very presence an unspoken nod and wink to all the work it takes to create light, to extend a guiding hand when all around seems to be swirling into madness and deformity.

Keeping it tight. Keeping it together.

Keeping it very together.

Keeping it within.

Keeping it locked down.

David Ryan – Documentary Phtographer

david #2

David Ryan is a storyteller. He tells other people’s stories with his camera.
As a documentary wedding photographer he’s a particular man who share’s other’s special moments in a very particular and unique way. Only David can tell a story through pictures the way he does. His is a special and distinctive talent.
David has a special place in my heart along this journey that’s led me to starting a podcast. A couple of years ago I was attending a good friend’s wedding in Ballina, Co. Mayo. David was their wedding photographer. Now, at this wedding I knew my wife and the bride and groom, and really, no-one else.
Following a beautiful ceremony at the Ice House Hotel I was wandering along the banks for the River Moy while family & friends took pictures of the bridal party. The one person who didn’t seemed to be in this melee was the wedding photographer. He was skirting around the edges, sometimes taking a picture of what was going on with the bride and groom, other times taking pictures of the young children as they played games of chasing while trying not to drop their ice-creams. David wasn’t doing the thing I’d come to know wedding photographers to do – controlling and directing the action. He was behaving like the proverbial fly on the wall.
I was fascinated.
So after while, having watched his modus operandi, I worked up the nerve to approach him and ask a question. Now, as you’ll hear David talk about in our conversation, the questions he gets asked as a photographer can, for him, seem quite trivial and superficial. And David hates the superficial.
Not knowing this, I went up to David and asked my question.
“What are you looking to capture?”
David’s reaction startled me, as I later learned the question startled him.
He turned to face me, took a step back and said, “Wow, what a great question.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Having the courage to ask someone a question that was really burning a hole in my brain, from a place of genuine curiousity, and the amazing conversations David and I had throughout the rest of the day, awoke something within me that I’d long ignored.
That I wanted to spend more time with creative people learning about what makes them tick.
And most importantly, that it is OKAY to feel like this. So if I were to act from this place the results would more than not be really enjoyable.
And year and a half later, I finally worked up the nerve to start this podcast, which had some of its origins in that moment, outside a hotel along side a river on a gloriously sunny Saturday on the west-coast of Ireland.
So returning home to Ireland for a holiday in April, it was important for me to bring this full circle by sitting down to catch up with David.
I hope you enjoy – it’s a deep conversation and at one point we get much heavier than I ever expected. Thank you to David for his honesty, his openness and for not being afraid to let who he really his show through.
You can see more of David’s work here:
Thanks to:
Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/

Dr Enda Murray – Festival Director

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https://player.whooshkaa.com/player/playlist/show/5799?sharing=true&visual=true

Dr Enda Murray is the Festival Director of the Irish Film Festival which is currently on in Sydney until Sunday, 5-May before moving to Melbourne from 9-12 May.

He has a penchant for seeking out and bringing to the screen stories from marginalised communities, not just in Australia, but all over the world.

In today’s conversation we discuss the through line from being one of fourteen children to Enda’s passion for storytelling as a way of drawing attention to really important issues.

You can learn more about what’s going on at the Irish Film Festival and get your tickets here:
This year’s program celebrates the diversity of Irish life in the 21st century with 10 feature films and a selection of short film and an LGBTQI series. Enda is premiering his own film, “A Lifetime of Stories”, the amazing lives of Sydney’s Irish seniors told in their own words.

 

I’m honoured to bring this conversation to you.
Enjoy 🙂
Thanks to:
Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/

Ep14 – Caoirne Ward

Caorine Ward

Ep14.

Caoirne Ward in an emerging musician who knows what he wants.

When it comes to his music, he knows how he wants it to sound and he doesn’t compromise when it comes to his compostions. He’s not apologetic for who he is, his opinions and the success he’s working hard to achieve.

He started off wearing his influences very obviously on his sleeves in YouTube videos, yet now, after writing more than 100 songs, releasing 2 albums and a number of singles his own voice and style is coming through.

Now his music has over tens of thousands of plays on Spotify and his latest song Trying has made it all the way to Triple J.

In our conversation today we get beyond surface impressions. The longer the conversation goes the more of Caoirne comes to the fore. He’s learning his music is genuinely connecting with people and it’s firing him up to do more.

Before we begin today’s chat Caoirne’s kindly allowed me to drop one of his latest tracks, Honest. It’s a perfect post-summer tune filled with chilled out positive vibes. Great minimal composition. Heart on sleave stuff!

Enjoy the track. Hang around for the conversation.

You can check out Caorine’s music and stay up to date with him here:

Thanks to:

Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/

Ep13 – Nigel Featherstone Pt2

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Ep13…Pt2

Nigel Featherstone is an Australian writer whose, powerful new novel, Bodies of Men is to be published by Hachette Australia on the 23rd April – it’s the story of two Australian soldiers who find love on the fringes the Egyptian desert while World War 2 rages around them.

This book is significant. This story is important. It’s beautifully written. Nigel is the right person to be telling this story at this time.

Great literature and art can sometimes be ahead of its time, yet it acts as the beacon so we can all fix on a common point in the direction we need to go. This book may well be that beacon of how we can further understand each other and learn to live along side others no matter the differences.

When I set out to do this podcast I put sitting down with Nigel to record as one of the big goals for myself. Nigel has been very important to my own creative development since we met in 2014 @ the ACT Writer’s Centre Hardcopy manuscript development program where Nigel was the facilitator and coordinator.

For a couple of years following the program Nigel was a mentor to me, helping me to find ways to create no matter what. Without his involvement, I may not have had the courage to embark on something as crazy as doing this podcast.

In this part of the conversation get spend time on the journey leading up to the writing of Bodies of Men. In Part 2, which is coming out on the 23rd April to coincide with the release of Nigel’s novel, we get deep into the story behind of the story and so much more.

Nigel is a rare character and has a generous artistic soul.

I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

You can stay up to date with all that’s happening in Nigel’s world here:

BODIES OF MEN, a novel to be published by Hachette Australia on 23 April 2019
– launching in Canberra at 6pm on Thursday 16 May at The Street Theatre

Thanks to:

Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/

Ep13 – Nigel Featherstone Pt1

Nigel Featherstone
Photo: Andrew Sikorski

Ep13…Pt1

That’s right, folks, this is Part 1, of 2.

Nigel Featherstone is an Australian writer whose, powerful new novel, Bodies of Men is to be published by Hachette Australia on the 23rd April – it’s the story of two Australian soldiers who find love on the fringes of the Egyptian desert while World War 2 rages around them.

This book is significant. This story is important. It’s beautifully written. Nigel is the right person to be telling this story at this time.

Great literature and art can sometimes be ahead of its time, yet it acts as the beacon so we can all fix on a common point in the direction we need to go. This book may well be that beacon of how we can further understand each other and learn to live along side others no matter the differences.

When I set out to do this podcast I put sitting down with Nigel to record as one of the big goals for myself. Nigel has been very important to my own creative development since we met in 2014 @ the ACT Writer’s Centre Hardcopy manuscript development program where Nigel was the facilitator and coordinator.

For a couple of years following the program Nigel was a mentor to me, helping me to find ways to create no matter what. Without his involvement, I may not have had the courage to embark on something as crazy as doing this podcast.

In this part of the conversation get spend time on the journey leading up to the writing of Bodies of Men. In Part 2, which is coming out on the 23rd April to coincide with the release of Nigel’s novel, we get deep into the story behind of the story and so much more.

Nigel is a rare character and has a generous artistic soul.

I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

You can stay up to date with all that’s happening in Nigel’s world here:

BODIES OF MEN, a novel to be published by Hachette Australia on 23 April 2019
– launching in Canberra at 6pm on Thursday 16 May at The Street Theatre

Thanks to:

Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/

Going, Going…Not Gone

going going

How do we notice that change has begun?

Is it a feeling?

A sign?

An announcement?

And once we’re attuned to change occurring what happens to us when we realise there’s no going back?

That your future has now unutterably been altered.

When you’ve arrived at such a moment in your life, how have you responded?

Was there immediate fall out or did the impact bit you like delayed aftershocks?

For me, there was this one time in my life it happened, I knew right away everything would be different about my life, about me, from this moment forward.

My knees wobbled.

I got that punched-in-the-stomach feeling so intense I thought I might vomit.

At the very least I felt like I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry and never stop.

This tectonic shift occurred when I was eighteen.

It was a Friday evening – I know this like I know my name.

It was late April or very early May 1995

I was in the bathroom staring at my reflection in the mirror whilst getting ready to go out.

I had a dance lesson to attend.

My good friend from school, Christine, was having, as the centre piece to her 18th birthday party in June at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Sydney, a choreographed dance sequence that about twelve of her friends, six guys, six gals, would be involved in.

In pairs, we’d tackle the waltz across the parquetted floor like we were part of the Viennese aristocracy from the 18th century. This meant each Friday for a couple of months leading up to The Event we had to practice – sometimes at St Clair Rec Centre, other times at Christine’s house. Our instructor was the wonderfully young-at-heart Miss Shirley, who, at a grand old age, was still footloose, fancy free and loved nothing more than to kick up her heels and have a good time. Don’t get sloppy or loose though – Miss Shirley got frustrated quickly when weren’t taking it seriously enough.

So, there I am, in the bathroom, getting ready ahead of the very first lesson.

Getting ready for me back then was a tightly controlled routine especially when I came to doing my hair.

I would spend endless minutes trying to align each hair in exactly the right place. I was seeking a perfection with my hair, a control of the process I couldn’t find or master anywhere else in my life.

If I tell you that my favourite story from The Bible is Samson and Delilah that might put you in the picture to understand how important my hair and my hairstyle was to me. I believed that Samson, got his extraordinary strength from his hair, but not literally from his hair – from the confidence his thick and full head of hair gave him.

His hair was his identity and in his identity lay his power.

I get now that this is a classically employed screenwriters device whereby a character, losing something of immense importance to them, must struggling desperately to get it back, only to learn along the way the thing means something different to them when they get it back. And thus, the dawning of a new revelation.

Samson learned his strength came from within him, not his hair.

Back to 1995 I hadn’t come to this deeper understanding of Samson’s story yet – I was still caught up with the importance of identity and image.

My hair process was repetitive, and I NEVER went so much as a step outside the door to my house without going through this:

  • Wetting my hair (I’ve often varied between cold tap water, sticking my head under the shower or hot tap water, splashed over my hands)
  • Running my hands through my hair to smooth it out
  • I would then, with a brush, slick my hair back and being so wet, it was practically stuck to my crown.
  • Then dry my hair – in my teenage years I was a devotee of the hairdryer, my hair style resembling an Aldi version of Hugh-Grantish foppish mop.
  • I’d get a nice side part going – a clearly defined line, left-aligned and then I’d try and tease out a fringe that would overhang my forehead.

And god, the amount of hairspray I would use only to see, within minutes, all my efforts collapse in vain as from the right edge of my forehead, the fringe wilt and sag and the holding powers of hairspray give up the ghost of strong hold.

I knew it then, yet would never allow the thought to fully form:

I am vain.

I get the whole Narcissus thing, amazed at himself as he stared into the lake at his own reflection. What is more fascinating that the self?

Except, I don’t think I was in love with myself. I was angry at myself. Angry because I didn’t look the way I wanted to look.

And, for better or worse, I was obsessed with my hair.

This particular Friday, as I was doing the routine, getting my hair as good as I could get it, something struck me as odd. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Just this queasy sense that something was off.

Then, as I was using the hairbrush to flick up my fringe, I noticed what appeared to be a weird angularity around my right temple.

Where once there’d been a clean and correct ninety-degree angle of hairline, there was now maybe a seventy-five or eighty-degree recession towards my ear.

My body knew before my mind did and it tightened, my breathing shallowing.

This lump of dread formed at the base of my throat and I couldn’t swallow, which was momentarily fine because my mouth had gone bone dry.

Surely not? I was thinking. No. Way.

And then something became known to me that could not become unknown – my hairline was receding.

I was going bald. I was going to be bald.

Why me, huh, why me? I thought to myself as my face drooped in the mirror, my skin turning a weaker shade of grey as the blood drained from my head to my toes.

I went to my bedroom and sat on the edge of my bed going through my personal checklist of why I was such a loser, which included all of my greatest hits. My life did flash before my eyes, and it didn’t feel like it amounted to much.

And now this.

Really? I get to go bald?

I felt like crying. I really did.

There it was – at either side of my temples, where there was once hair, there was now a recession, like British forces retreating from Dunkirk, leaving more forehead, skin that hadn’t seen daylight since I was an infant.

FUCK

ME

I will NEVER get laid now, was the next thought that began banging around in there.

I was doomed.

Sometime soon, I guessed, my hair would start falling out in clumps, just like the guys in those Ashley Martin commercials who seem who find great tufts of hair in their sink plughole.

Devastated wasn’t strong enough a word.

I felt my life had ended. Any hope, any sense of potential future happiness and success, just vanished.

What a thing to realise. What a thing to know about one’s self.

I had apocalyptic visions of what I would look like without hair and how my image would dictate the quality of life I would live.

To this day, I don’t know how I pulled myself away from that mirror and actually left the house. I can only assume it was a Herculean effort. I must’ve found a resilience deep down from somewhere.

Since that moment this realisation has lived with me in my head – I would one day be bald. There would be NO HAIR on my head.

Going into University in 1996, I didn’t think I’d make it through.

When I moved to Ireland, I imagined myself soon after the Millenium looking like Mr Sheen.

I couldn’t imagine myself older than thirty with more than a couple of patches of hair over my ears and to the back of my head.

And here I am, twenty-four years later, still with a thick crop of hair on my head.

Sure, there’s obvious receding on both sides but I still get to brush my hair every day and take more than an obsessive sense of pride in it.

What A LOT of worry I experienced because of this realisation. It near-crippled me emotionally for years. A real anchor keeping me at the bottom of the ocean.

A lot of worry for nothing. What a thing worrying is.

We can never truly know how the future will play out and yet, at least for my part, I can get submerged in catastrophising things that may never come to pass.

This is one case where I am happy to report my worry has been mostly, for naught.

Going, going, not quite gone yet.