Summer Essay

The stars are getting higher and harder, the air more acrid at the back of my throat and the flame tree fringes are starting to flash amber: Autumn is finally coming after the longest, most glorious Summer I have ever spent in Melbourne.

After the intensity of my thesis, and subsequent writing and conferencing, this Summer has been all about getting out of my mind and immersing in the physical and social world. I started working as a postie delivering mail everyday, lived in a beautiful mansion with 7 of the coolest people I know, started Open Table with my friends, hosted couch surfers, gone to yoga so much my teacher calls me rubber back and have not read a single academic book or paper.

During this time I have been writing short bursts in my diary, and in the tradition of Mary Schminch, I’m eschewing fears of being a self-indulgent twat and sharing them… Starting from… now:

• Enjoy life as a series of beautiful moments.

• Tell your friends that you love them as often as you can.

• Tell bad jokes frequently. Try and remember the punch-line before launching in. If you can’t remember the punch line laugh anyway.

• Remember that you are going to die one day. Live like that day is tomorrow.

• Don’t be cavalier with traffic. Bike vs Car scuffles have predictable casualties.

• Wear brightly coloured socks. It will make your colleagues smile.

• Look at people in the eyes. Ask questions. Listen. Really understanding someone is a deeply satisfying human experience.

• Caring about status is a colossal waste of time: people who you think you are too cool for may be the ones who open your mind the most; people who you think are too cool for you may actually really want to spend time with you.

• Don’t waste time curating photos of yourself on facebook. The popular girls from high school are too busy constructing heir own digital farces to care about yours.

• Sleep with your phone on flight-mode.

• Call in sick and go to the beach when the weather is good.

• Make jam. Label the burnt batches ‘caramelised’. Give the good batches to your neighbours.

• Write your neighbours letters. Try not to get issued with restraining orders.

• People get sick. People die. People will tell you they have cancer via facebook. This will be horrible, but at least you are now pre-warned.

• Cook for your housemates when they least expect it. Clean up at least 10% more mess than you made.

• Read poetry.

• Sing out loud while riding your bike. By the time people realise what you are doing, you will be too far away to see their reactions.

• Kiss like you are in love. Fall in love. Enjoy every beautiful moment. Always say good-bye, like it is the last time that you will ever see your lover.

• Things never turn out how you imagine, but what ever happens somehow manages to be exactly right for you, right now. Don’t waste time cursing serendipity.

• Don’t waste time dismissing everything that ever came from religion. Intelligent people worked for centuries on religious texts, they can be a useful short cut to living a good life.

• Think about what living a good life means for you. Experiment with the contribution you can make to the world.

• Watching Beyoncé videos is a valid contribution. So is ‘dancing’ along.

• Email people that you admire. Tell them why. Beyoncé writes back to fan mail.

• Keep your possessions to a minimum. Things only slow you down.

• Practice non-violence. Be vegetarian.

• Throw wild vegetarian dinner parties on Tuesday nights.

• Drink wine on the veranda.

• Text your parents at 3am to tell them that you love them. They probably already think you have a few screws loose.

• Have a chat with the homeless lady outside Aldi. Do not give her beer in a glass bottle.

• Shave your head at least once in your lifetime. Know that you probably won’t look as good as Natalie Portman. But at least you tried.

• Remember that you are not morally superior to anyone. Even if you are vegetarian and look like Natalie Portman with a shaved head. Humility is so hot right now. And always.

• See things from as many perspectives as you can. Make friends with people who have different backgrounds to you. They see the world in interesting and different ways.

• Host couch surfers.

• ‘Them’ is an illusion. There is only ‘Us’. The more strangers you meet, the more you know this to be true.

• Know that helping others is the only way to be happy.

• Never pretend to have the answers. Even if you do, life is much more fun lived in experimentation.


Thank you for indulging these brain blurts, I loved every minute of writing. Like Mary Schminch I absolutely encourage everyone to try writing a personal essay. It is a brilliant way to spend a Sunday morning.

Predictably I’m off to India to practice Ashtanga Yoga. I am still unsure about what my future holds after that. I know that my PhD is lurking there somewhere and I am nearly ready to embrace it with my newly flexible arms.

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