The world has paid the price of isolation; but as we return to our sprawling shopping centres and bustling restaurants, we are going to realise a fatigue we haven’t had to deal with for some time.

Engaging with people, even positively, can be exhausting; beware the impact of isolation on our social tolerances.

Be kind to our service workers, Take care of our administrators and our organisers, and tread gently into the social spaces we were so used to occupying only a small time ago.

‘Normal’ is returning, but things have changed; let’s not allow it to be a change for the worse.

It’s easy, in times of great distraction, to lose sight of the things most important to our own personal senses of worth and value; but there are fewer practices more essential than those which make us who we are.

We are what we do. We should do what we want to be.

Somewhere along the line, explicit cancel culture got cancelled. Calling cancelling ‘cancelling’ isn’t cool anymore, but the cancelling still occurs; once a public figure wades deep enough into problematic waters, there exists a tangible progressive pressure to disavow them.

At the end of the day, cancelling lacks nuance – which is likely why it’s become . We have to keep context and intention in perspective and accept that there are some standards we cannot hold other to, because we could not hold ourselves to them.

The full wrath of public outrage should be reserved for those who commit the most vile of discretions. Everyone else deserves the right to learn and grow.

As we return to our gyms and our pursuits, there are a larger proportion of us groaning up stairs; but a similar proportion who are happier and healthier than we have been locked up.

Pain isn’t bad; involuntry pain is.

Those pains we choose are gifts, not detterents; from them, we grow. We must listen to our bodies, as to not overwork and break ourselves. But when the little aches and pains of progress linger, the answer isn’t neccessarily to rest. Sometimes, the answer is to push harder.

The pressure, intent and passion for honing and creating pulsates through the veins of every creative mind. Jane Hirshfield painted a picture of what practice look and feels like when she said:

“Violinists practicing scales and dancers repeating the same movements over decades are not simply warming up or mechanically training their muscles. They are learning how to attend unswervingly, moment by moment, to themselves and their art; learning to come into steady presence, free from the distractions of interest or boredom.”

– Jane Hirshfield

The artists life is that of unswerving attendance. Only through genuine prescence can one articluate what it is to be alive. Repetition is not the practice, it is a symptom of dedication and focus; of the resistance of interest or boredom.

Meetings are the bane of productivity; they allow participants to feel like they’re getting things done, even when they’re not.

Meetings belong to the person who called the meeting. Usually, the person who calls a big meeting feels great afterwards becuase they got to say everything they felt they needed to say.

The question is: did everyone else in the room really need to hear it?

Too often, that answer is no.

The stories we tell ourselves aren’t always accurate – especially those in which we play either a hero or a villian. The truth is always more complex (and more painful) than ‘I was right’ or ‘I was wrong’.

By externalising the dominant narratives we tell ourselves we can get a glimpse into how the story might read from the perspective of others. This is hard, because our own biases are always the loudest, but it is possible.

Externalising and identifying these narratives opens up the opportunity for us to deconstruct them; to challenge the dominant tale from all angles in an effort to adapt or solidify our own.

An editor’s page can look like a flurry of red hacks and slashes, the margins stacked with firm suggestions and agressive questions. Or, it can look like a gentle number of subtle suggestions, egging the writer in the right direction. The ideal mark-up probably looks like something in between.

The power a red pen can have when pointed at something sacred, something which a writer has poured their sweat and blood into, is immense.

It must be weilded with kindness and a firm respect for everything the work could possibly become.

It kills me to watch this unfold, but I can only try to understand. This is the consequence of ignored, systematic oppression; this is the cost of the demagogue experiment. Hate breeds hate. It’s going to require a whole lot of compassion to counterbalance that hate once the embers settle and the smoke fades.

Just remember that Australia has oppression in it’s own back yard, too. Hundreds of uneccessary deaths in custody without prosecution.

Bridging these divides takes more than scholarships and handouts. It’s not just about ‘sorry’, and it’s certainly not about ‘get over it’. America’s hate is a cancer with which we are also plagued. What we do about it is up to us.

If you’re pained enough to post to your timeline, show up at your next election.

There are an unfortunane number of people prone to thinking that they are in on something that everyone else is blind to. You’ve met these people; they’re usually quick to tell you what they know and, more importantly, what you don’t. They will immediately trust the word of anyone aligned with their beliefs, but refute every qualification held by anyone with a differing view. The problem with people who are suceptible to this is that, aided by a little fear, they can be convinced of nearly anything—and some falsehoods, once believed too deeply, can be perpetual.

A vulnerable person desperate for status and meaning will clutch onto the closest belief which makes them feel intelligent and in control. For some, that results in turning to faith. Religion offers the vulnerable a socially acceptable way to become ‘enlighened’: believe, and you get to join the we know something you don’t club. In this way, religion is a kind of conspiracy; it binds tightly those who believe and arms them with infallible premises to dispute with those who don’t. Religions, like all organised conspiracies, generate a cognitive bias which cannot be challenged by the logical standards of truth.

“Science adjusts it views based on what’s observed. Belief is the denial of observation, so that faith can be preserved.”

Tim Minchin

Conspiracy is attractive to vulnerable people because it arms them with an illusionary safety net: they are the ones who see and understand, and those who don’t are wrong by default. They never have to risk the embarrasment of being found out or losing an argument; your disbelief of their premise makes you wrong by default. The visciousness of this thinking is that it self perpetuates; feeling like you’re ‘right’ all the time feels good. So good, that just talking about the conspiracy can become its own form of self-gratification.

The sad result is that these people become insufferable to those who don’t share their delusions. The deeper one falls into conspiratorial thinking (which was meant to increase their status and likability by making them feel wise and in control), the further they isolate themselves from anyone outside of their conspiratorial bubble. For some, this works just fine. There are plenty of people who live entire, happy lives within two degrees of separation from someone who attends their church or mosque. But, in times of doubt, it may prove more difficult for those tricked into believing that malevolant reptillian humanoids walk among us to find meaningful engagement and community.

To return to reality, a conspiratorial thinker would have to accept the observations of the experts they have learned to distrust and denounce. If they wished to reclaim their place in the logical world, they would first have to admit to themselves that the ‘special knowledge’ at the root of their illusion of superiority was a lie; that they have been tricked, deceived and likely exploited by people and sources they have grown to love and trust; that the world might not be out to get them in the ways they feel it is; and that much of the fear they have been publicly projecting might actually reside within.

The problem with illusionary knowledge is that it leads to illusionary superiority. The problem with illusionary superiority is that it isolates you from those not under the spell of your brand of conspiracy; and the problem with that isolation is that, in order to give it up, you have to revoke the comfortable, infallible power you’ve grown dependant on weilding.

Tragically, this is often too painful. Its easier to believe that you’re a misunderstood genius than a delusional fool. Instead, they stay stuck in their unpopable bubbles of delusion, frustrated at the world for not understanding.

Never waste your time arguing with someone who has learned to believe in the things which make them feel good, instead of the things which they can prove. Facts won’t persuade someone to give up superiority which is grounded in illusion. Their knowledge and, in fact, their entire conception truth is not governed by logic or reason—their knowledge is governed by their insecurities.

Intelligent people love being wrong; every time it happens, they get wiser. It’s the foolish who can’t bear it; their fragile egos deny their ability to grow.