Rebuild Together - Bushfire Volunteer Platform

Rebuild Together - A Platform to connect volunteers with people who have been affected by the recent bushfires.

When the fires broke out across Australia, I had an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I wanted to help, but I didn't know how or where to start.

We don't all have a bunch of money to donate but we do have the time and skills that are really needed. Whether it's cleaning up, dropping off supplies, caring for injured animals, trades, or just lending a much needed hand.

Which is why we built Rebuild Together. A platform for people who want to volunteer to help those who need it most.

  1. If you want to volunteer your time and skills - Become a Volunteer and help those who need it.
  2. If you have been affected by the fires - Create a post and connect with local volunteers.

The platform has just launched - if you would like to volunteer, please jump on the site and create an account. If you need help (or know anyone who does), create a listing and get connectd with local legends.


If you have any questions or would like to get involved please email me on: 


Keep on keeping on,


Does Feeling Need a Reason?

What I learned from being unfaithful.


Illustrsations by @kika_canika


If we look at racial segregation, sexuality, and the reasonably flaccid cords around our necks, tying our lives to the prying spheres of our parents — we’ve all had a bit more room to breathe recently. The fingers clasped around self-expression, intimacy and all things good have finally begun to relax.

The ways in which we are now able to present ourselves means that our actions become ever-closer reflections of our inherent selves, our natural characters. These are our fundamental traits (sometimes called constructs) that we must fulfil and express in order to belong; to feel accepted — to have joy.

All going well, in time, all inhibitions restricting the means through which we can explore and enjoy these natural tendencies will be uprooted. Meaning more expression. More joy.

If and when expression is repressed or resisted, however, the symptom is always discord — unease, pain. Directly or indirectly, any emotional or physical conflict results from the denial of someone’s natural character.

A jealous partner, for example, resists the ways in which their spouse’s natural dispositions manifest with other people. Or pigs on factory farms, who chew at each other’s ears because they’re instincts have been cut out of the business model. Or simply feeling miserable, where the misery lies in an inability to accept something — resistance to what is — which casts a shadow of dissatisfaction over your psyche, obstructing your joy.

In summary, the repression of natural tendencies makes us feel bad. Whereas, the freedom of expression brings joy, because our natural way of being is accepted and realised.

Why then, as both people and as individuals, do we still maintain the exhausting notion that something that feels good, isn’t always good?

A perfect example of this is intimacy.

Why, when we all aware of the latent joy stored away in deep physical and emotional connection — love and intimacy — do we reserve so many tiers of human interaction for the bodies and minds of one sole individual: the partner?

When intimacy is honest, pure, it is a perfect expression of our inherent joy. Because, like joy, intimacy knows no prejudice, it holds no expectation, no cost. It is fun and free and natural. To enjoy another’s mind and body is literally to be in joy with them.

Yet the idea of what some might still refer to as free love remains a dangerous and unorthodox concept.

Intimacy is joy expressed within the dance of form. Love is the music of the heart. Yet, these instinctual celebrations are routinely cut short by our fixation with definitions and expectation. It often isn’t long before the ballroom becomes a battleground, and the ballet — a brawl.

I recently slept with someone else whilst in a relationship. I’m sure that many of you upon reading that will be met with the heavy thoughts, maybe even memories that you associate with promiscuity. However, I learned a lot from this experience and it feels right to include what happened, here.

In short, I went to a festival with a friend, a girl. Someone with whom I’d always had a strong affinity with. By the third or fourth day in each other’s company, I decided that the intuited calls to be intimate with her were both honest and loving. I felt, too, that my affections had adopted a new limitlessness: I saw that every moment of connection, physical intimacy or emotional, was nothing but the release of some inexhaustible intuitive energy, like a solar flare reaching out from the sun. I realised that connection is never something that we choose, rather only something we become aware of — a thought, a feeling, a rush — rising to the surface of our consciousness. A voice calling out from somewhere within our being that says hey, there’s joy here.

And so what is the difference, then, really, between resisting the urge to breathe and fighting an opportunity to feel?

Although our relationship could not exist as it had, the love and appreciation for my girlfriend and her ways remained completely. I told the older sister of my girlfriend, who I also went to the festival with, and her boyfriend how I felt. At this point, the girl and I had kissed twice and I told them this too. The boyfriend became angry; I was told I could not come home with them, and the girl, the friend, walked away from the group crying. I took my things and followed her into the crowd. It was the last day of the festival, neither of us had any battery on our phones nor any idea what to do. I said I would get a train with her back to London. We spent the rest of the day together and slept with each other that evening.

I told my girlfriend, who was away at the time, the next day. After that, separated, we met with each other three times following the festival. During these meetings there were many moments where all pain that had flared up, like the burning redness that surrounds a wound, was extinguished. When we held each other or looked into each other's eyes, the inferred reasons for why I had done what I did disappeared. Once the focus on the meaning behind my actions had shifted, only the causeless, indiscriminate joy of being in each other’s presence remained. The same natural inclination to be intimate, to laugh, to be close arose in exactly the same way as it had with the girl from the festival.

During our last meeting, and after speaking for a while together, the topic moved back to the girl who I had slept with. I had stayed with her in London and had plans to see her again. Somehow, through the conversation that preceded, I spoke of the amazing resonance that the girl and I shared. At that, the stitches holding together our relationship, still barely breathing, were pulled out, and the tide of hurt and distrust that we had managed so far to navigate drowned out the joy of our togetherness, and we no longer speak.

A leaf that falls from the tree gains a new perspective from the ground.

Photo from Stephen Ellis

In light of what happened, I now believe that how we interact with each other should not be confined by the arbitrary definitions we place on relationships. And any attempt to do so, to cordon love off, only invites pain to grow between the cracks.

Of course, I can understand how sleeping with a girl whilst committed to another can and will be seen as both a betrayal of trust and a sign of disrespect. But as it is, must it be so? Were my sentiments and intentions responsible for the entirety of the pain — or are the rules by which we play the game setting us up to fail?

When kindness is free, what good does it bring to conserve it for the people we’re close to? Laughter is not reserved for friends, so why must sex be reserved for lovers?

The Choice

Ultimately, I think people either believe that love is an internal element within oneself or something that must be acquired from other people.

Whilst it’s true we cannot experience many aspects of ourselves without others to provide a canvas for those aspects to be exhibited, the root of all joy is nonetheless contained within our being. The ability for us to experience love is a permanent and unconditional trait. We love other people because they encourage us to feel and think in certain ways, but the sensation of love can only ever be present when something or someone resonates with our natural character — our joy. You cannot find a joke funny without a sense of humour, just as you cannot love without love.

Really, we do not receive love, we create it.

If someone is giving, for example, the love you feel for their actions is really derived by the appreciation you have for your own charity. Their actions are like a reminder of the virtues of generosity itself, stored within you. On the other hand, if you are inherently Scrooge-like, other people’s philanthropy may arouse feelings such as resentment and anger within your consciousness because they remind you of parts of yourself that you do not love. If someone is malicious, it is your disdain for cruelty as a whole that causes you to dislike them.

The splendour of love is contained within the moment that love is created. Love resides only within the present moment because it is something that we feel — and feeling only exists in the now. By recollecting fond memories we are able to feel love at that moment, so how could love ever be given from someone else?

I believe that the people who understand love’s eternal yet momentary nature are like those who marvel unreservedly at the fleeting pirouettes and explosions of a firework display. They understand that love does not require a purpose; love is beyond reason, existing only to wonder at its own existence, its own complexity. Where those who try to savour and direct love are the people in the crowd taking photos.

To acknowledge love only when you see it in someone else is like enjoying the harvest without any appreciation for the sun: If looking only at the fruit in our basket, we lose sight of the power and greatness of nature; the turning seasons, the perfection and the beauty. Love is no different — we can watch the waves or we can have the ocean. For the moment you decide that you are the source of your joy, never again will you be poor in love.


The Business of Love

In the current paradigm, many do believe that love comes from other people. They seek to possess and protect it, like the assets of a business.

The business of love points all participants in the direction of loss and pain, and revolves around one key principle:

Love is a bit like money.

Firstly, people believe that, like a business, your emotional wealth is determined by what you posses. And so the extent to which you feel loved depends on your relationships — your assets.

Embodying this primary assumption, people then behave in a certain way in order to attract and acquire love. They create an idea of who they are, their strengths, their attractive qualities, like an investment portfolio.

All going well, they will attract an investment: friend, spouse or other. This person will induce certain sentiments that make the person feel good. The individual feels hightened, wealthier.

People then seek to protect their new relationships because they believe that once achieved, love, like money, can be lost. They enter into contractual agreements — boyfriends, girlfriend’s, spouses, friendship groups — in order to ensure their love. Literally to insure it. Each agreement entailing different expectations and obligations, from wedding vows all the way down to agreeing not to flirt with so-and-so.

Then the enterprise changes: someone in the relationship no longer reflects their original portfolio, or they start failing to honour the terms of the contract. They become interested in different things, wish to become more intimate with other people, offer less time and energy to their partners, and so on. In short, they no longer perform how they’re expected to. “They aren’t the person I married,” is an expression often used at this stage.

Like the shares of a stock exchange, the value of the relationship starts to fluctuate when the worth of the partner is reviewed and questioned. People begin to feel poorer because they have grown to expect the same emotional income from their partners.

Rather than allowing the relationship to mature, expand, change hands — to become enriched — the coupling suffers as it remains bound to the initial ideals and expectations laid out first-off, like a business that refuses to diversify.

If the change in the partnership is deemed as a loss, the investment may proove no longer sound and unworthy of maintaining. If so, like a company declaring bankruptcy, the relationship ends.

Then, akin to the bursting of a financial bubble, the love that has been “lost” creates a great psychological void. The love is quite simply gone because we believe it left along with our partners.

In the end, there is confusion, outrage and heartbreak because people feel less valuable. They invested a huge amount of their belonging into one body, and no longer feel as desired, loved, accepted, appreciated or enjoyed without it. This absense creates pain.

To recap,

  • We all have natural tendencies that when experienced bring us joy.
  • When our natural tendencies are denied we experience the resistance in the form of unease or pain.
  • When we experience our joy with other people we call this love and intimacy.
  • These experiences are the result of our ability to create love.
  • Sadly, many people believe that these feelings come from other people — not the realisation of their own loving essence.
  • This belief leads to the formation of committed relationships, in order that love and intimacy are assured. The ability to explore joy, namely intimacy, is then confined to the terms of the relationship.
  • The relationship becomes a symbol of an individual’s emotional wealth — and pivotal for continued access to their joy.
  • Then, when one of the participants within the relationship does or becomes something beyond the expectations of the relationship, the relationship fails.
  • This creates a psychological “void” (pain) because we believe this love has been “lost”. Or, in order to save the relationship someone’s natural tendencies are resisted and denied.
  • Either way, in an effort to guarantee our joy we give life to the only thing that kills it — confinement.


How can we reconcile the idea that committed relationships lead to the pain with things like raising children or purchasing a house?


Society reflects the way we think and the way we behave. We have all bought into the idea of individualism and small family units, and so the structure of our countries continues to embody those ideals. Still, as we grow ever more estranged from our neighbours, we understandably hope to raise children within the most secure framework available to us: a committed relationship with one individual.

However, to recognise that any attempt to define or secure love does not work is a sign that a shift is taking place within our belief system. We are beginning to realise that current relationship conventions are not conducive to expanding the expression of our inherent joy. For one, polyamory (having many consensual sexual partners) is becoming far more common. And so, as we move ever close to what feels natural, we will also hopefully begin reconnecting with people on a deeper, more intimate level. And so, providing an environment of interconnected but unbound individuals in which we can raise children without the need for static relationships.

But what about now — how do I conduct myself within relationships in such a way that honours love’s illimitable nature?

There is nothing you need to do other than respect your true character. Through the people we meet and the experiences we have we are constantly changing, evolving. As we change so will the people that we resonate and spend time with. So the cycle repeats. We are all in a constant state of flux, so to commit oneself to any expectation only reduces the space in which we can continue our journey of self-exploration.

The trees that produce the most fruit will not be found in pots.

The only promise you should make is to discard all other promises. Whichever relationship you find yourself a part of — raising children, a fling, and everything in between. The only guarantee you should ever make is to honour your own evolution, whichever road that may take you. If it feels right to propose and marry somebody as an expression of your joy, then by all means do it. Go forth and be merry! All the while paying mind to the ungovernable nature of that which brought you together in the first place — Feeling.

Does feeling need a reason?


No one chooses who they are drawn to. Lover, friend — whomever. There is no explanation for the affection that is awakened within. It just happens. So why not permit these notions to proceed as they are alwaysin all ways — to be enjoyed in whichever form they adopt on the surface?

No conditions. No expectations. No resistance.

I am not talking about sex. I am talking about intimacy, laughter, love. The stuff we feel for other people that in one-way-or-another screams: I enjoy you!

Do you ever need more reason than that?



Words On The Road: The Ambivalence of Travelling and Writing

Words On The Road:

The Ambivalence of Travelling and Writing


Few job titles exude such a romantic, dreamlike aura as “travel writer”. A faded passport, piles of eared Moleskine notebooks, reliable credit cards, an everlasting smile on the face, and the phone number of an editor willing to catapult you from a pseudo-paradise to another are some of the associations that bubble up when thinking about this, well, line of work. As someone who has these very two words signed on every email I send, I would argue that the aforementioned require time, back and neck exercises and heaps of muscling in, and will likely remain a dream, a romanticizing, for most of those who choose to take the red pill. Still, although my notebooks are eared but not Moleskine, my credit card (singular) Master but not reliable, my smile erratic, and I haven’t yet met an editor with catapulting powers, I wouldn’t want to sign my emails any other way. As they say, it’s not about the destination.


It all started with fortuity and stochastic processes

I spent the first two years of my legal age working, surfing, and partying at a hostel in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. Among all ilks, I met from all over was Mat – a 20-something teacher cum surf instructor from Cornwall, England. We bonded over our common appreciation of beer, desideratum for surfing, and later, photography. We kept in touch on and off over the powers of Facebook. Until the beginning of 2015.

I had just sailed across the Pacific Ocean with a friend I’d made surfing in Panama and found myself at a small archipelago in the south of French Polynesia, roughly eight days cruise from Tahiti. I had been keeping a journal for the past few years and had written daily entries over the course of our voyage. So when, during one of our “dinghy survey missions”, we found an epic wave pealing off the corner of an islet inhabited by a lone 50-odd year old American, I wrote about it.

With what I would soon find out to be a first draft in my hands, I recalled that Mat had been working as a freelance journalist and was involved with surf publications. A “might as well” thought enticed me to send him the piece and ask whether he knew of anyone who’d be keen to publish it. He got back to me with an edit of my draft, which was published on Surf Simply Magazine weeks later.

Fast-forward a few months, I’m in New Zealand preparing for a road trip with my brother after a season of fruit-picking when Mat forwards me a proposal to do a paid trial run on writing articles for Surf Simply. I agree, write four pieces, they approve, we discuss the brass tacks of potential long-term collaboration, and I begin to produce material on an increasingly regular basis, establishing what would be my first “client”.

Once the door was open and the first step was taken, I began to wonder how to extend that opportunity into a full-time, sustainable practice. In hindsight, it is clear how the dots connected; yet back then, every unfolding event had a hue of happenstance. Nothing felt like it would amount to any thing at all or in particular. It seemed like the only way to go.

A day in the life

One of the most gratifying perks of freelancing is embedded in the word itself – the freedom to move suddenly and quickly, which to me equates to having more control over how to spend my days, to shake the concept of routine altogether. In fact, this ability to dictate, to some extent, when I work, exercise, have a cup of tea, nap, gaze out the window or hit the pub, is one of – if not the – the main reasons why I pursue such a volatile occupation in the first place.

I have spent a silly number of hours reading how-to guides on productivity and other so-called life-hacks that flood our feeds, and from that, I have realised two things. First, this is definitely not the kind of writing I aspire to output. Second, although they seem dynamic – at times even enlightening – on the surface, I probably have a better chance of unearthing something meaningful to me if I adopt an empirical attitude – grab life by the balls, so to speak.

At present, I aim for a balance of discipline and spur-of-the-moment living by splitting my day in quarters and wiggle-waggling my way around it, pliably and joyfully. This home-made system is designed according to my latitude and season, and is espoused by a series of notes/exceptions which allow me to say fuck it and still land on my feet without losing momentum. Or so I hope.

Clock-wise, the first quarter on my Day Diagram is assigned to either SLEEP or WRITE, from 7am until 1pm. That means that if I’m not sleeping at that time, I’m working. And by “working” I mostly mean bread and butter work – the stuff that I get paid for. I love indulging in brainstorming and heartfelt writing just like the next person, but I’m a big believer of Maslow’s pyramid of necessities and, through personal experience, have found that if I don’t have a shelter over my head and food (plus wine) in my belly, I can’t function, let alone disgorge that which I believe to be significant, unavoidable.

The second quarter of my day, due to my struggle to get the gears going after a meal, is mostly dedicated to a mixture of passive-learning and physical exercise. Depending on the day and what events are on in town, from 1pm till 7pm I’ll be napping, taking online courses, trail running, practising yoga, gardening, or simply [trying to] think of nothing without having to call it meditation. I have been on a one-track-mind the entire morning, so this is a way to make both my mind and body pulse, mixing and matching activities that don’t require much energy but nonetheless stimulate me. It is also a time to stretch my back.

As I currently live with other people and far away from the city centre buzz, I chose to set a daily “social time” between 7pm and 11pm. This is when I really let my hair down; I fill up a glass of wine, cook and chat with my housemates and remind myself what the world is like outside my laptop screen.

The fourth and last quarter is once again scribbled with the words WRITE or SLEEP, the difference being that there are two schedule suggestions: 11pm to 7am or 11pm to 3am. I understand that I’m only human and that the bottle of wine I opened at dinnertime can – and often will – refill my glass more than once. But I also know – after experimenting with my sleep patterns, not reading a scientific paper – that my organism needs roughly eight hours of sleep per day. Hence, I worked out a semi-flexible system where, should I feel like finishing that bottle of wine into the night, I let myself write until 3am, then I sleep until midday and start the day with a brunch at 1pm; or I unwillingly refrain from the god-like fermented grape beverage and hit the sack at 11pm, giving me a sound, eight-hour night of sleep until seven o’clock the next morning.

Being an advocate of living on the edge as much as of getting shit done, I take this framework with a grain of salt – a stone of salt, actually. This is a blueprint to what I think could be a balanced, creative day; a means to match my wishes with my needs in a conscious, rather idealistic way. My only strict rule is never to go to the toilet without something to jot notes on.


Choosing my words, carefully

There’s this assumption that every writer writes about what they want to write about, but I soon found that not to be the case necessarily. At least not in the beginning, and not when you try to make a living on writing alone and have neither a pay-check nor savings or rich parents to fall back on. Considering that my curiosities are ever-increasing and inexhaustible, that word-typing is my sole income, and that nowadays there is a solid market for “content writing” (though I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck that actually entails), I could say that I write about whatever I have to write about – first to keep afloat, then to keep alive. If to put it romantically: I don’t choose the stories, the stories choose me.

Currently, I craft two surf-related pieces per month for Surf Simply Magazine, pitch different ideas to various publications (either revolving around the topic of marine environment or travel – or both), and take short-term “content writing” gigs here and there – such as this series of 10 twenty-thousand-words articles on New Zealand’s upcoming electronic travel authorisation system I just finished – rarely having a say on what I cover, but covering rent nonetheless.

When it comes to journalism, I follow a tip I read somewhere from a journalist whose name I don’t remember, and tend to “recycle” my stories. The idea here is that revisiting a subject matter allows one not only to monetise on potential new angles by pitching it to distinct publications but also boost one’s know-how on that particular subject, which, if you are genuinely interested in, works as a double-plus.

Soul-selling and bread-winning aside, my mantra is to “write about what I think I should think about”. Regardless of getting paid or getting published, every thing that I write is some thing that I have thought or would like to think about, some thing that, for better or worse, nags the heck out of me. The ultimate goal is to make this writing about these things my sustenance, to be able to pursue only the topics and stories that tickle my fancy. But while that doesn’t happen, I keep personal ramblings as my daily bite of sanity (or insanity?), my ethereal footmarks on the cosmos.


From page to paycheck

Like anyone freelancing in a creative field without a consistent paycheque, a commission or an assistant, getting something published/sold is probably the toughest, most boring part. (Or maybe it’s the boring trait that makes it tough?). I’m still unaware of how the pieces fall, but what I am sure of is that it takes some bruising of the knuckles (or should I say numbing of the fingertips?) from knocking on a lot of doors before someone welcomes you in. One has to tango with frustration.

When it comes to content writing, my modus operandi is rather dynamic: I use, or used to use, freelancing platforms such as Upwork to find projects and contact clients, keeping an eye out for potential long-term collaborations. As for freelance journalism and selling finished pieces, the road is more winding. Due to a combination of the current metamorphosis in news media and the stupid amount of content floating in the digital stratosphere, few publications are willing to drop money on a .doc file; and the ones that do remunerate either do so sparingly or are tough to get through. But again, I do reckon it comes down to fraying the knuckles until breaching in.

That being said, I only approach a publication if something beyond the prospect of payment draws me to it. And speaking of payment, my experience has shown me that if/when they happen, they do so in schizophrenic fashion. In the case of content writing, some clients ask about a per-word rate, others offer flat rates according to the project, and a few still work on the clock. These depend more on the client’s budget than your personal rate: they will hardly pay more than they can afford, even if you do a neat job.

In the journalistic strata, I have found flat rates to be the most common scenario. The lowest commission I got was U$100 for a 1000-word piece, the highest was €350 for the same number of words. When selling a ready piece, flat rates (sometimes irrespective of word count) are invariably the way to go. Here, I never expect to be paid more than U$100 for a long-form essay, and have found many publications whose budget sits around U$50. I prepare myself for all circumstances. Haggling is not unheard of.

Over time and headbutts, I began to brick up a multidimensional framework that would, hopefully, optimise the chances of writing for my bread and butter without relying on an answer from someone who has an overflowing inbox and only 24 hours in a day. I structured three spreadsheets – List of Essays, List of Publications, and List of Pitches – so as to organise, direct, and keep track of my ideas. With that, everything that is not content writing for clients falls either into “essays” or “pitches”, both cross-referred to “publications” in order to determine who to nudge about the topic/story at hand. Regardless of what I’m going for – selling a finished piece or asking a commission to produce one – I do a thorough online search for the editor’s contact details of the given publication, craft a straightforward, honest email, send it, and move on to the next idea.

Where the “ambivalence” lies

Although I have spent the last decade bouncing around the globe, I don’t recall ever being impelled by wanderlust. It has always been about the mundaneness of it; the fact that I could catch a plane across the world and still see that people smile and cry and hate and love and that the sea breeze sticks to my skin and that ridiculous, enraging, inexplicable, and beautiful things happen everywhere. The place-hopping and sight-seeing never felt like travel per se: it wasn’t a momentary experience with an entrance and an exit but a long road upon which to keep on treading.

If anything, this process of moving from one place to another has been a metaphysical journey. It’s an empirical reflex to my all my scepticisms. It’s a dive into my personal contradictions. I only trust in what punctures my viscera, so it made sense to aim (even if utterly unconsciously at times) for a modus vivendi that would stab me as frequently as possible – and that is where movement/travelling comes in.

Likewise, I never dreamt or even considered the idea of writing for a living. They both (writing and travelling) were and are elements, steps, responses, to what life threw at me at a given time. They were and, to some extent still are, an inevitable piece of my existential puzzle. I believe it’s the constructive trait of these “practices” what represents so much to me and what led me to allow them to be such a ubiquitous part of my life.

My lifestyle is filled with starts and restarts. From a practical perspective, this means looking for new places to live on a regular basis and restructuring my routine and mindset to befit my new home. It means putting down rent deposits, purchasing SIM cards, figuring out time differences. It also requires me to keep track and abide by immigration policies, exchange rates, and steer away from long-term thinking. None of it works if I have too big a backpack.

Internally, I’m in a constant rush. Events and emotions are processed during layovers or bus journeys; I land on the get-go. I often struggle to crack the surface of relationships. I yearn for deeper bonds. I lose my bearings. I wonder when, where, and whether to stop. But despite frustrations and hardship – which I know to be found in any lifestyle, whether you choose it or not – I enjoy the way this framework reminds me of how supple I can be, teaching me to live with what I need, not what I think I need.

And then there’s tomorrow

As I write this, I undergo a process of transition which is both personal and professional – or rather the first mirroring onto the latter. It seems that the fundamental elements I've long cherished about writing are once again springing to the surface, forcing me to reassess what the fuck I'm doing. I feel in my guts that I have reached a fork in the road. As a person, it means that I'm growing, cycling. As someone who writes for a living, it seems like I need to reinvent my words. Both processes go hand in hand: I see more clearly how I want to spend my days and thus am provoking a shift in the way I work.

I have identified a curiosity for interview/profile pieces which I’m keen to dive deeper into. Subject-matter-wise, I’m keen to stray from what I’ve written so far, explore new grounds, trying to write more about what I don’t know than what I know. Ideally, I’d like to find at least one more publication to collaborate with long-term, so as to have a bit more control over my finances and thus be able to construct a more directed body of work whilst developing a stronger tie with a collective initiative.

Also, for a while now, I’ve been keen to expand the scope of my writing and have been toying with the idea of merging the written word with other mediums. Together with an Aussie friend of mine, we’ve been taking the first steps on a feature documentary/narrative film. Last October, I spent a month at an art residency in Finland and now have got a bunch of essays to finalise and organise into something a bit more polished – a book, perhaps?

The act of writing as well as travelling continue to be fundamental elements of my carving an existence in time and space, the only difference is that I am (or at least feel) more aware. I’m more aware of my approach to both, their repercussions in my being and my relationships with people and places. I manipulate them with more dexterity, even though I haven’t a clue what shape I’m moulding.

All this, consequently, brings me closer to realising what makes me tick, which in turn optimizes the chances of living up to my near-full potential, and that is what I believe every human strives for, instinctively. Momentary frustrations, anxieties, doubts, struggles, non-Moleskine notebooks, lamentable lines of credit, and catapult-less editors aside, if both writing and travelling keep shaking me up as they have, I know I’ll have spent my time well.

Fast Fashion No More

By Tyla Els

It’s no lie that many of us are addicted to buying new clothes, even more so if it’s cheap and easy. But too many people are failing to recognise the importance of buying and supporting sustainable and ethically-made clothing from brands that are doing their best to help our environment. 

With a constantly increasing customer demand and more people looking further into the process behind the clothes they wear, many Australian brands, both giants and smaller independent companies are following the trend of sustainability in manufacturing, packaging and creative processes. 

Recent statistics show that on average, each Australian buys more than 27 kilograms of textiles annually with approximately 23 kilos of this landing up in the landfill, some taking up to 50 years to break down due to synthetic fibres and petroleum that is in most ‘fast fashion’ ( This has huge environmental consequences, including increasing amounts of greenhouse gasses, energy, and water.  




The Social Outfit


We spoke to Camilla Schippa CEO of sustainable Sydney brand, The Social Outfit’, about what she calls her “social enterprise celebrating multiculturalism and creativity and a fashion label with a difference”. 

What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

For us, ethical fashion is a vehicle for social change. Our key aim was and continues to be, to support people from new migrant and refugees communities, especially women, by providing them with training and employment. We knew that refugees often come with incredible sewing skills, along with creativity and motivation. As such, we set out to build on their existing skills so not everything has to be new for them. We expose them to Australian workplace standards and practices, ensure they improve on their English skills and build their confidence thereby increasing their future employability. 

How is your brand sustainable? 

At The Social Outfit, we work hard to contribute to sustainability in as many ways as we can. 

Because we manufacture on-site, we can let customer response guide our production, meaning less wasted materials, and very small amounts of excess stock. Our clothes are of high quality, made to be loved and worn for a long time.

We are lucky to have partnered with Australian fashion greats like Romance Was Born, Carla Zampatti, Bianca Spender, Linda Jackson, Easton Pearson, and many more. Our industry supporters donate end of roll fabrics and leftover trims, which we then incorporate into our garment production and sewing school. This enables us to make really special, limited edition pieces while helping the environment. So far, we have been able to save over 4.5 tonnes of textile waste from landfill!

Another large part of our work is creating exclusive print collaborations with the refugee and new migrant community. This involves printing onto new materials, so we work with Ethical Clothing Australia accredited suppliers to do so. Next State Print provides our organic cotton and Think Positive Prints provides our silk crepe de chine (printed just a few suburbs away from us in Sydney!) Of course, our own work is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, too.

We prioritise recyclable and compostable packaging both in store and for our online sales. 

Last but not least, our own store features a floor made of marble and exotic stones off-cuts. They were left over from residential jobs in the industry, which would otherwise have been destined for landfill. And our display pods and sales counter are made out of converted cardboard fabric rolls. 

Are there any concerns or challenges with a sustainable brand?

The demand is growing but the challenge is pricing. Consumers need to learn that by spending more for an item of sustainable clothing they are ultimately saving because we all pay a high price for the low cost of fast fashion. The food industry is slowly leading the way, fashion is next in line.

Organic Crew


Mel Lechte, founder of sustainable brand, Organic Crew, spoke to us about the importance of educating others about ethical clothing and the consequences that fast fashion come with. 

Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams
Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams. Photo: Estliving


What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

I directly saw the impact of fast fashion. I visited factories and saw the impact on the people. The impact on the environment is devastating. We cannot continue to consume the way we are and expect the planet to go on .. something has to give. Education is my biggest motivation in starting this brand, to make a small difference in creating change. 

Is your brand sustainable / environmentally friendly? 

Most of it.. we are 95% organic - besides some linen (which is a sustainable fabric) and certified GOTS. We are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. I can trace the clothing from seed to store.. I have visited the farms in India that grow our cotton, I see the people who sew our garments and we value transparency. Many people don’t realise that organic cotton only uses rain water.. not irrigation. It is very environmentally friendly, chemically free and natural. Zero plastic!

Just how important do you believe it is that the fashion industry thinks about sustainability?

Critical - we cannot continue to dump into landfill in third world countries. We need to be mindful consumers not mindless, wasteful polluters! The fashion industry must lead the way by creating more sustainable, natural products as it’s harmful to us and the environment- we are all consuming plastic in water, in our food and in our clothing!! 


As we hopefully begin to bid farewell to fast fashion it is important to know the difference that can be made by shopping sustainably. Not only is the environment being saved from toxic waste and pesticides. Your carbon footprint will also be reduced,  your clothes will be unique and of only the best quality fabrics. 

Kitchen Nightmares and Dreams

Details of the wonderful and woeful lifestyle of working in the Hospitality Industry from a recently departed cook.

MasterChef’s don’t exist in the real world of commercial cookery but the rage of Gordon Ramsey does, and the stress of shift-work is very real. However, within these factors comes a completely different way of life. One that is truly exciting and unique; if you’re up for it.

It all began when I was elbow deep in a wash-sink, constantly getting my hands and fingers covered in grease and bits of discarded food scraps. The Executive Chef asked me if I could cook.

“Only mash-potato and sausages, Chef,” was my reply.

He told me he’d see what he can do about getting me a position as a First-Year apprentice.  That’s when my 10-year run as a chef started. Before I go any further, allow me to explain the hierarchy within a commercial kitchen in Australia.

From top:

  • Executive or Head Chef (The Boss)
  • Sous Chef (The Boss/Second in charge)
  • Chef de Partie (Chef in charge of a section)
  • Commis chef (Newly qualified Chef)
  • Apprentice (first, second, third- or fourth-year chef)
  • Kitchenhand/Dishwasher

In a commercial kitchen everyone reports to the Executive or Head Chef (most kitchens only have Head Chefs). He or she is the boss and that’s final. Everything gets run by them and they run everything. The restaurant I did my apprenticeship at was run under an Executive Chef and a Sous Chef, and man – what a job they had. Writing and costing menus, liaising with front-of-house staff and restaurant managers, making sure the different sections of the kitchen are topped up and ready, and lastly, making sure that us apprentices are kept in line.

The fun begins at service. Service is the time when customers can order food from an open kitchen. 

This is a time where the kitchen comes alive and everyone puts in a level of effort much like that of a pirate crew whilst they seize the prize of a lifetime. Amongst all the chaos of docket machines scratching out orders, waitstaff asking for times on meals and constant bursts of flames coming up from pans on the stove, the Chef in charge barks orders as all of the underlings. We always answer in the affirmative, “Yes, Chef!” Here, is where the true test of your ability to work in a fast-paced kitchen is on display. Abilities and skills of which are to be held in the highest of regards.

Working as a chef is not an easy job. It’s anywhere between 9 -15 hours a day - every day. The pay’s not that good, the treatment is mostly terrible, and your social and love life is nearly non-existent. But for the right people, with the right heads on their shoulders and the right minds inside those heads – the life of a “Hospo-worker” is nothing short of exciting.

It does have its perks. First and foremost is the people you meet working.. You’ll end up sharing every aspect of your life with each other. From the great moments in the kitchen where you’re lightly burning each other with hot pans or playing jokes on the Head Chef. 

GREAT TIP: Whilst wearing a rubber glove, use red food colouring in the place of blood and pretend you’ve cut yourself. Add in the proper acting techniques. For example: “Ohh, fuck!” and “Ahhh shit, I just cut myself really bad.”

This will cause Chef to react and freak out. In which he will frantically run to the medical kit to get supplies, then run back over to you with the intention of helping you – assessing if you’ll need an ambulance or not. By this time, it will become all too funny, and you – along with the rest of the apprentices who were all in on this sinister joke begin to crack up. Causing chef to say something along the lines of “You fuckin’ douchebags,” and with a smile on his face, telling you all to get back to work. These are the sorts of jokes and pranks that get played all the time. But where there is good, there is always bad. And it’s within these bad times that you’ll use one another to complain too.

Expressing your feelings is a must when the stress of the job is getting too much. No matter what you do, you likely get yelled at by the Sous Chef 2 minutes after you get to work (True story). Or when you find out that the waitress you hooked up with the other week turns out to actually have a boyfriend – just when you were beginning to really like her. Constantly – after a while, anyway – tell each other that you’re quitting at the end of the month. Every month. Even though you never do. When working in a kitchen, it’s the people that keep you working for the longest amount of time.

No matter what, when it comes closer and closer to service – the vibe in the kitchen heightens. Even if you’re pissed off, depressed or happy – when it’s time to throw down, there’s no stopping it.

Another important normality of working in hospitality that a new-comer has to be aware of; the daily occurrence of substance abuse. Which, unfortunately, should not come as a surprise to anyone. Within my 10-year span, I only ever knew of 3 chefs and a hand full of front-of-house staff who did not use substances on a daily basis to deal with the high-stress, low pay and quite frankly, shitty conditions that the hospitality industry provides. According to a 2017 assessment from The Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration of Australia,

“The hospitality industry contains the highest number of alcohol and illegal substance users in Australia. And for those in Food Services, such as Chefs, cooks, kitchen-hands, prep chefs and so on, are the highest group of users within the industry as a whole.”

It's all a part of the lifestyle. Getting a job in the industry may have come easily and it may be convenient to just stick with it for an income. The lifestyle, the substance intake and off-centre way of life is a choice. It doesn’t take long for an individual to figure out if it’s for them or not.

But there are positives. You won’t need to hassle with crowds on the weekends or late-night shopping. You’ll have the run of the grocery store on your days off, which likely falls on a Monday or Thursday. Even though the pay isn’t great, you may find it easier to save if you choose not to spend your money on booze and drugs. You’ll be too damn tired to go out and spend it on miscellaneous items during the day. And, if you’re like me – a creature of the night – the working hours will be something you can really work with and embrace. There’s nothing quite like having your last drink as the sunrises.

A short glimpse into the life of a Hospitality worker from someone who has since left it all behind. I left because I got over it and wanting to oil the gears of Capitalism (I wanted a Monday-Friday job). I felt like my current job wasn’t fulfilling anymore. I didn’t want to picture myself in the same job in 10 years times. I never really had the motivation to climb the ranks in a kitchen and in the end, I felt like I wasn’t giving my all to an industry that requires it. Once I made that decision, a number of people commented on how brave it was for me to do it. People tend to just stick with what they know – even if they hate it. But that’s not me. Ambition dies when you're too comfortable. 

Lastly, let it be known that to all the people I left behind and to anyone who has worked in the industry their whole lives; I take my hat off to you all. I always felt as though the Hospitality industry in Brisbane City, and more accurately the Food Services industry, the Chefs, Cooks, Kitchen Staff and Waitstaff, never get the full respect due. The pressure, personal sacrifice and preparation to deliver to a customer they have never met. Every person who still continues to work in the industry has the highest calibre of my respect.

My tornado of cookery has ended. The shift-work hours cease to exist and a different sort of pressure has entered my life. But it's ended with great memories, meeting exceptional people, making extremely poor decisions along the way and learning many life lessons. When I walk past a kitchen and peer in, I still feel like a little part of me is still on that line. Waiting for the next rush and enjoying that fight to get ahead of the next docket.

So, ladies and gentlemen, tip the Waitstaff, thank them wholeheartedly … and if you manage to walk past the kitchen, tell the chefs and cooks, “Thanks!” as you leave.

It’ll be appreciated more than you know.


Military Dolphins

Military Dolphins

I stop running and stop laughing before staring into the sky. Yes, I run and laugh at the same time. I often wonder what people think of me, am I insane? Or is Karl Pilkington just too funny to contain a hysterical cackle?

It's a Thursday and I’m listening to The Ricky Gervais Show podcast on my brief afternoon run. If you haven't heard of it, I pity you but I won’t judge, there is still time. Karl Pilkington is reading an email that a listener had sent in. He mentions dolphins with guns strapped to their flippers. Ricky, as always, dismisses the ridiculous idea by laughing wildly at him. I laugh too - that is ridiculous ... or is it? We’ve put people on the moon. Training dolphins to kill seems easier than that.  Karl talks a lot of shit but sometimes he shares some insightful tales, and maybe, just maybe, this is one of those times.

I start walking while I violently punch ‘Dolphins with guns’ into Google on my phone. BAM - Wikipedia to the rescue. I click on the first link, ‘Military Dolphins’. I’m half expecting a fan fiction historical recount of the time Snorky convinces all of his friends to take over Springfield. It wasn’t. It was true. Karl was right.

I turn around and run back home with a grin from ear to ear. Now I definitely look like I have lost my mind.  I sit down and sweat lubricates my fingertips as I vigorously research as much as I can about Military Dolphins.

Both the USA Military and the Soviet Military have trained and employed dolphins to locate underwater mines, aid rescue missions and assaults. The Soviet Military operated a research facility on the Crimean Peninsula up until the 1990’s before selling the dolphins to Iran in 2000. The Chief dolphin trainer, Boris Zhurid, was a kind man and wanted the dolphins to go to a good home, according to an interview with a Russian Newspaper. 

A retired Russian colonel told the Guardian that dolphins were trained to plant explosive devices on enemy ships. They were also fitted with harpoons to stab enemy swimmers and carried out kamikaze attacks with explosives.

However, Training animals to perform in the military isn’t limited to just dolphins. According to the US Navy, over 19 species have been tested for their potential military use and they have confirmed that dolphins along with sea lions have been used since the 1960’s.

But surely those days are over … right?


On the US Navy website, under the Marine Mammal Program, their press release states that they are still using marine animals for Military purposes;

“Unlike human divers, dolphins are capable of making repeated deep dives without experiencing “the bends.”  They also found that dolphins and sea lions are highly reliable, adaptable, and trainable marine animals that could be trained to search for, detect, report, and mark the location of objects in the water.”

So there you go, military dolphins are a thing. And maybe I shouldn’t dismiss everything Karl Pilkington says - sometimes he shares wisdom beyond his (sweaty) ears.



#fightforthebight - Burleigh Paddle Out.

An estimated 3000 ocean lovers showed their support for #fightforthebight by paddling out at Burleigh point. There has been an incredible push to stop big oil in the bight but there is still time to have your say.

3 days left to have your say! 

"Equinor’s environment plan is before industry regulator NOPSEMA and is open to public comment until March 20. This will be the last public consultation before NOPSEMA makes their decision, and it’s important you have your say via the link below. If you’re unsure about how to word your submission here’s some tips. It’s a crucial time to take a stand. The Bight is one of the last great tracts of marine wilderness in the world, and it needs to remain wild. This is your chance to tell them that Big Oil does not belong in the Great Australian Bight." [Patagonia]


Click this link:

NOPSEMA Public Comment


The Stories Behind Some of our Favourite NASA Patches

Born in 1958 as a result of serious beef with the Soviet Union, NASA have achieved some pretty rad shit, including, the Apollo Moon Landings, Skylab and undoubtedly their most impressive contribution to humanity - the super soaker water pistol. What I like most about NASA is they spent time and energy on the important things, like, space travel stuff, rather than hiring fancy graphic designers to create their patches.

I like to think of the design process consisting of a young intern, scrabbling over their desk, beads of brow sweat drip onto the paper as they attempt to illustrate a patch concept while a bunch of engineers and astronauts spitball ideas.

“It needs to have the american flag in it.”

“With a rocket”

“And a horse”

“or an eagle!”

“add more flames!!”

“Make it pop.”

I digress. The patches are epic and according to the excerpts from NASA’s website, the designs actually had a lot of thought put into them, or at least, they put a lot of thought into analysing it after the intense brainstorm sessions.  

We have picked a handful of patches out of the 150+ designed over the past 50 years. There are so many epic patches and even more insane stories behind them. Here are a few. 


WORF Patch

I like to imagine this was designed by a massive Wayne's World fan and thought to create a fanfiction style space Wayne's world sequel design. Unlikely, yet the fanfiction part isn’t far from the truth.

“At the top of the patch Klingon script spells out the acronym WORF making reference to the famed Star Trek character of the same name.”

“The "flying eyeball" represents the ability of the ISS to allow scientists and astronauts to make and record continuous observations of natural and manmade processes on the surface of the Earth.”

But my favourite part of this patch is the dude flying upside down without a helmet on. 

“...depicted as Star Trek's Mr. Spock in his flight suit with his STS-44 mission patch operating an imaging instrument, emphasizing the importance of astronaut participation to achieve the maximum scientific return from orbital research.”


STS-63 crew patch

This patch was again designed by it’s crew members but this time it was a little different.

THis was the 20th mission for Discovery and was the first time a space shuttle had a female pilot on board, Eileen Collins and a US astronaut of African heritage, Bernard A. Harris, Jr.

And if that wasn’t enough, Coca-Cola got involved. In cooperation with the University of Colorado, Boulder, Coca-Cola helped develop the Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus-1. It dispensed pre-mixed soda for astronauts' consumption which was used to study the changed taste perceptions of coke in space. The astronauts rated control samples before and after flight.

“Developing technology to accomplish these objectives in microgravity may likely evolve into terrestrial applications that could further the long-range research and development objectives of The Coca- Cola Company.”

Nothing quenches the thirst of interplanetary travel like a coke.

(That should be their new slogan. Coca-cola, HMU for copywriting work.)


STS-62 crew patch

This is more of a glorified plane than a rocket ship. Wait, do they even call them rocket ships? Or is that a Hollywood term? Well, this rocketship/spaceship/space shuttle had one hell of a trip. You can read the whole experience on Wikipedia and the discovery channel filmed the landing for its 1994 special about the Space Shuttle Program. You can even watch it on Youtube here: The Space Shuttle (1994).

Astronaut Marsha Ivins with thermal imaging project on flight deck

The STS-62 insignia was designed by fine art painter, Mark Pestana .

S.A.F.E.R. Flight Test
During the STS-64 mission, an astronaut performed an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) to test a new maneuvering unit called the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER). This unit is mounted on the backpack to be used if an astronaut becomes detached from the International Space Station. Original Painting (24 x 36) $850. Check out his work here:

Oh and I forgot to mention,  you can buy some of the NASA patches from the NASA website here.



Live Long and Prosper.


Ayahuasca Paranoia: That Time I Nearly Died in the Amazon

Ayahuasca Paranoia: That Time I Nearly Died in the Amazon

Ayahuasca Paranoia: That Time I Nearly Died in the Amazon

Words by Alisha Smith  & Illustrations by Aidan May


People say that ayahuasca is a truth serum, but I think it’s a fear venom. It drives its viney tendrils deep into the sludge of your soul. It has an arsenal of machinery ready to excavate the shittiest beliefs you hold about yourself. It can make you live your worst nightmares, often in the most creative of ways. And if you’re lucky, it may even kill you.

It was my fifth time working with ayahuasca on a 23-day immersion somewhere in the emerald belly of the Peruvian Amazon, and I was getting pretty used to the drill:

5 pm — Flower Bath

Be doused with a bowl of sweet cinnamon smelling liquid. Air-dry, so the tiny orange flowers stick to your skin and help to integrate the coming lessons.

5:45 pm — Prep

Grab ceremony essentials: headlamp, blanket, water bottle, pillow, crystals, lighter.

5.55 pm — Set-up

Head to the large jungle hut called the Maloca, and arrange belongings. Remember the protocols:

  • Lie water bottle flat to prevent knocking it over and scaring everyone mid-ceremony
  • Practice putting headlamp on the red-light setting to not blind everyone mid-ceremony.
  • Tie headlamp around wrist so that you’re not trying to look for it on the ceiling mid-ceremony (I learned that one the hard way).
  • Carefully position plastic vomit bucket
  • Pray to baby Jesus that ayahuasca will be gentle

6:00 pm — Yoga

Set intentions and do an hour and a half of candlelit yin yoga. I try to keep a clear mind but my brain insists on thinking about pesto pasta, Thai beaches, and my long history of questionable life choices.

The Shipibo healers arrive, a husband and wife team with plant medicine in their bones. Maestro Americo whistles a song into an old soft drink bottle filled with ayahuasca, while Maestra Olga rips perfect squares of paper to place the rolled tobacco mapachos on. I’m called up, and they pour a shot glass half full of the lumpy swamp sludge. I say a prayer (again), down the medicine, and gracefully holdback an insta-purge.

Apart from the facilitator, Allen, and the door guys, everyone drinks — even the healers. Then the lanterns are taken away, and we are left in the dark limbo lands.



Nothing’s happen-Whooooooooomph

My mind was strapped to SpaceX and launched to a land where enthusiastic elves competed to show me their geometric mega-devices, yet my body remained in the inky black madhouse of a maloca. Whimpers echoed from the bathroom, red lights flashed like police sirens, and every ten seconds a very loud thud booms through the space.

Reality dissolves into a webbed sea of menacing energy. My eyes itch and puff up, my throat closes….smaller, smaller until it’s difficult to breathe.

I saw a movie screen flashback of the assistant who makes the medicine smirking while stirring a killer plant into a pot of bubbling ayahuasca. A plant that would cause a very long, slow and painful death.

I’d been poisoned! It was his plan all along. He’d charmed the retreat guests with his friendly smile, earned our trust, then sneaked a deadly plant into the ayahuasca so he could watch everyone die in the middle of the jungle.

There was no point in getting Allen’s attention now — he knew what was going on, and it was too late. He was busy shining a light into the eyes of the thumping culprit, who was now limp and silent. He must have passed away, I thought. Me next.

I crawled towards the door to escape, with the thought that I’d rather die within the quiet walls of a lantern-lit bathroom than an asylum.

My eyes blink closed and a trillion visions strobe: barbie pink butterflies dance in a kaleidoscopic pop-art painting that fractals into infinity. My eyes blink open and the floor starts breathing again.
Ayahuasca Paranoia: That Time I Nearly Died in the Amazon
I’d royally fucked up this time, hadn’t I? Newspaper headlines projected onto the bathroom walls “12 Found Dead in Amazon Poisoning”. I’d forever be known as the girl who died drinking ayahuasca in the jungle.

After teleporting back to the maloca, the medicine kept me in its claws for hours. I was dragged, drugged, stalked, poked, prodded, X-rayed, dissected, and disinfected. I told my family I loved them. I accepted my own death.

Then, silence.

The shamans stopped singing.

Allen’s comforting voice lit up the room.

‘Alright beautiful people, the ceremony is now closed, gracias para La Medicina’.

And in that moment I was back. I was a shattered shell, unable to move, but holy moly, I was Alisha and praise the starry skies, I was alive!

I lay sprawled on my mattress, eyes wide open until the roosters called and early morning rays shone through the mosquito-netted walls.

As I stumbled back to my hut, silent tears rolled at seeing this world for the first time. I had to hold myself back from shouting: OH MY GOD look how green the grass is! I was mesmerized by the trail of ants, and even the cat was a mystical and magical being.

Ayahuasca helps us to remember.

Remember that we spend our lives trapped in a backwards bitch of a society, so hell-bent on becoming that we miss the beauty of being. The joy of a sweet smile, the rustling of leaves, a gap in thoughts, a petal, a deep inhale and full exhale. Oh, what a gift it is to simply breathe.

Ayahuasca helps us to remember.

That one day we won’t breathe anymore.

With Maestro Americo, Maestra Olga, Tanya and Haroldo (the poor subject of my imaginary poisoning) at the Temple of the Way of Light in Peru.

Off-the-Grid: 6 Months Without a Phone

Off-the-Grid: 6 Months Without a Phone

Lessons learned from a hitchhiking trip as a phone-less millennial

Half a year ago I was hit by a transport truck. It flipped my whole world upside down — literally. In nothing short of a miracle, I walked away from the accident in one piece but was later diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome. This set-back wasn’t exactly what I had planned for my last few weeks of undergrad, but hey — that’s life for you.

I was a 22 year old male, told by my team of doctors to limit all exercise, screen-time, and alcohol consumption. In other words, “stop being 22.”

Not long after, I called up my carrier and suspended my phone plan. Surviving a high-speed crash has a way of putting life into perspective. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my youth with eyes glazed over a screen, or maybe that was my impulsive, post-concussive brain talking. Regardless, if I wanted to truly limit my screen time for the sake of my own recovery, I needed to do something radical.

There was only one problem with the R&R recovery plan; I don’t know how to sit around and just do nothing. So I hitchhiked across the country instead.


The mile zero sign at the eastern terminus of the trans Canada trail in St.John’s, Newfoundland

What would you do if you were 22, and just saw your life flash before your eyes? No work, exercise, screen-time, or alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, that means I wouldn’t be biking across Canada again this time around, but hitchhiking — that was fair game.

What’s better for the soul (& the brain) than a good ole fashioned road trip anyways?

Reesor’s s(c)h(ool) bus named Daisy. We met via a mutual friend 3 days earlier then drove to Nova Scotia together before parting ways. Along the way, we stopped in to visit some east coast friends, like Keegan in PEI.

Here are a few lessons that I learned on the road:

Justine is a medical journalist I met in NF. She was my ride through Gross Morne. Also, boil saltwater straight from the ocean for the best tasting lobster.

It’s good practice having faith in kindness.

Take the story of these lobsters for example. After picking up two lobsters at the wharf, we asked a neighbour if we could borrow their pot to boil water for our meal. They happily lent it to us and we brought it down to the beach for our fire. Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to ask for help — people are kind (especially in Newfoundland).

Perfect strangers want to help you more than they want to hurt you.

There are still good people in this world. You need to believe that other people believe you are one too. While skepticism will do you well in life, don’t be too quick to assume the intentions of others. Just because someone asks for a ride or offers to give you one, doesn’t mean they are going to kill or kidnap you. Choose to believe in the goodness of people instead.


Hypothetical situation: Let’s say that I had a phone on me.

I probably would have:

  • Ordered an uber or taxi instead of uncomfortably standing on the side of the road with my thumb out.
  • Searched on google maps for a store that sold kettle pots instead of approaching a stranger with a request to use theirs.

In both instances, I would have retreated to my comfort zone and relied on my device to solve my problems. I doing so, I would have wasted more time in the long run, spent more money, and would have never shared an experience or interacted with the two individuals mentioned above — how lonely & boring.

Now I know what you are probably thinking. There are times when having a phone could have been quite useful, like getting directions, or making an emergency call. Although my time ‘off-the-grid,’ is no doubt an extreme example, I also had the rare privilege of experiencing some of the most raw and authentic human interactions. When someone offers you a drive, you have an obligation as a hitchhiker to entertain them. They want to hear your stories or share their own stories with someone who will listen — not someone staring at a screen. How does anyone benefit from that?

Am I saying that phones are evil and need to be abandoned?


Not at all. Fast forward 6-months and last week I finally decided to re-activate my own plan — but with some new ground rules in place. The key takeaway that I gained from this experience is that we need to make technology use a positive addition, rather than a harmful distraction, in our lives.

Here are some tips to make your device work for you:

  • Take the earbuds out — music is great, but don’t be that guy on the bus. Instead, try saying hello to someone new and starting up a conversation.
  • Turn off your notifications — or at least the ones that don’t matter.
  • Schedule in-person meetings — use your device to coordinate a time and place instead of acting as an alternative to meeting in-person.
  • Make things a little less convenient — if you have trouble with aimless scrolling, or constantly updating your feed, keep your phone out of reach.
  • Explore the apps Screen Time & Digital Wellbeing — if you have no idea what I’m talking about, search for them on your device right now!

And if you think you are up for the challenge, consider going phone-less for a few days, or — dare I say — a few weeks. You might just develop a new found appreciation for the little things that make us human.

Go for a hike (or even a hitchhike).


Originally posted on Medium