Last time I wrote about the stresses of having no apartment in Melbourne. It turns out I didn’t need to panic – two days later I signed an apartment lease for the first time ever. Four days after that I picked up the keys. Two days more and I had moved into my new place. And it’s kind of amazing.

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What I expected to be one of the best weeks of my life turned out to be one of the most stressful. It’s strange how your highest and lowest points can occur at the same time. Like how hate and love, happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin – as if they balance each other out.

Strangely enough, the majority of the past few weeks stress has nothing to do with my new place. Sure I had no power at first, still have no fridge or furniture (besides my bed and coffee table), had to do three trips to IKEA and two to the Salvation Army, had an Uber driver that got lost getting to me IKEA one night (seriously who gets lost in tiny Melbourne?) and the big one – I don’t have broadband yet (hence why this post is late and why I’m penning it from a McDonalds down the road), but these stresses have been relatively minor.

My apartment is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, other areas of my life though, are nowhere near where I want them to be. I won’t go into the details of why I have been so stressed, but I will say, that the weeks that have passed have given me a lot to think about. I’ve thought a lot about what I want out of life and whether I’m going to keep doing the same things while expecting a different result.

I’ve thought a lot about what kind of life I want to have. It occurred to me how easy it is to get wrapped up in faux worlds built by corporations and forget what’s really important in life. In your obituary they probably won’t mention that you managed to get a web project delivered on-time and in-budget, or that you stayed late at work so that your colleagues wouldn’t be mad at you. If the celebration of David Bowie’s life is anything to go by – I don’t imagine people will talk about how you followed the crowd, or did what you were supposed to do, or led a boring but sensible life either. After your death people will talk about your creativity, the moments that made you stand out – not what you did, but how you made them feel.

One night last week I was walking home from work and I caught a glance of myself in a shop reflection. I was carrying my dinner in a plastic bag. It was 9pm and getting dark. When I caught that glance of myself I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the person who was looking back at me. She made me feel sad. I pitied her. What I saw playing out was that moment in a movie where the corporate executive leaves work late, grabs him or herself dinner and goes to an apartment with an amazing view, but no, or little furniture, that she or he never actually enjoys time in. I saw a sad existence where the executive expels every ounce of energy onto things she doesn’t want to do only to come home, gorge on Singapore noodles, lie of the floor of her apartment and think why do I do all of this? 

That movie moment always occurs near the beginning of the story though, doesn’t it? It always occurs right before the protagonist is called to complete their personal quest.  One might say, that the darkest moments occur before the light.

Literally speaking light has come from darkness. Last Sunday night I had no power, the result of pressure I couldn’t manage – hence all personal obligations were forgotten. I spent all day Saturday building my IKEA bed, which was much more challenging than it looked and required me to search Melbourne for a hammer and screwdrivers (according to the instructions I was supposed to call a friend too, but I’m a New Zealander for God Sake and all I could hear ringing in my head was “nah, mate, do it yourself”) and I’d spent most of Sunday moving my remaining possessions and building an IKEA coffee table.

I was exhausted and with no couch to crash on, I lay on the floor for a while, watching the sunset until the only light was from the stars and the city.

It was only then that I noticed a lantern sitting on my coffee table. In a moment of clairvoyance I’d bought the lantern and some candles from IKEA. It was in no way a contingency plan (I never actually dreamed I would be too stressed to organise power in time), but simply a little gift to myself that I planned to use on my balcony once I had outdoor furniture. I lit the lantern and spent a romantic evening sitting Japanese style at my coffee table reading by candle light. What I’d expected to be a night of darkness turned out to be one of my favourite nights in Melbourne yet.

The next night, so pleased with my romantic experience, I lit my lantern again and brought it into my bedroom to read for awhile. I was so exhausted and stressed that I ended up falling asleep (I never, ever fall asleep easily) and woke hours later still fully dressed, on top of my blankets with the lantern still burning away… on my carpet. Needless to say, the lantern sticks to the table now and I use the lights like a normal person.

Metaphorically have I seen the light yet? Have the stresses turned into something valuable and rewarding? Not exactly, the power is still switched off, so to speak, but there is a little lantern of hope burning away and I’m determined to get what light I can from it.

Until next time,

Safe travels xx