From time to time I’m eating dinner when the thought occurs to me that somewhere in the world another person is dying of hunger. Soon I’m overcome with guilt.

Most often I try to push these thoughts from my mind. Those people dying of hunger are so far away that we’re disconnected. The fact I’m eating dinner has nothing to do with the fact they don’t have any. It’s not my fault and there’s nothing I can do.

As soon as the thought has arrived, my brain gets distracted and it’s all forgotten about.

But still, something gnaws at me. I wondering whether I’m just choosing to forget the problem. After all that’s the easiest thing to do. To forget means to do nothing. Nothing is easy. Knowing this just increases the guilt. Do I want to be the type of person that chooses to forget the suffering of others?


A few weeks ago, I was riding a train home after work. Every seat was filled and a small crowd of people were milling around near the doors. As the train pulled away from the station, a drunk man sitting alone near the door starting to sing at the top of his lungs. Bon Jovi. “OH! WE’RE HALFWAY THERE! WOAH-OH! LIVING ON A PRAYER!”

As he sang I looked around. A few people were smiling, enjoying the singing. He was a good singer. Most people were looking away, ignoring him, sitting in silence, pretending he didn’t exist. He started to shout to the audience as though he were on stage. “ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?!” Silence. “I SAID, ARE YOU READY TO ROCK!” A train filled with people, still silence. He went back to singing.

I started wondering how I should react. Just ignore him like everybody else? Instead, I looked over to him and we made eye contact. I smiled. The smile was meant to say “Hey, you’re a good singer, you’re entertaining me.” But his singing started to falter as we looked at each other and it’s like his confidence had broken. In a train with everybody ignoring him it was easy, but now I was staring at him and now he knew somebody was actually paying attention.

He didn’t smile back, he stopped singing. Instead he started mumbling. “Nobody, not God, Islam, nobody can tell us why we’re here. Why we go through life. Nobody can tell us why we live. What the point of it all is.” I was overcome with sadness. I could understand his pain because I’ve had these thoughts before when depressed. The man sounded lonely, upset. Still he was ignored. I wanted to sit down and talk to him but I couldn’t. I admit, I was afraid. What would I say? What would people think?

The train pulled up at the next station where I needed to get off. As I sat waiting for the next train I couldn’t shake the man from my mind. He was drunk, unhappy, ignored. I could have easily imagined him jumping in front of a train or going home, drinking some more. Continue to drink every night.

I wondered how much of a responsibility I had to this man. I could have done something, but I did nothing. Doing nothing was easy. Nothing kept me comfortable, as it kept most people on that train comfortable. But I couldn’t shake this thought, what if this ignored man went straight home in his state and killed himself. I could have done something.

For a few days I felt guilty about this, until life took over and I had other things to worry about. I wonder how everybody else on the train felt. Did they even care? Were they also afraid to do something?

Food Guilt

Whenever I turn on the TV here in Australia, I can always find a channel with some cooking or food show on it. There was a time, maybe a century or so ago when food was considered a thing of sustenance. Food is one of the few basic things that we humans need for survival. For much of our history our lives have been focused on simply finding enough food to eat.

For many of us now that’s not a problem. We can be unemployed and homeless but there’s still little chance that we’ll die of hunger. Food is easy to come by.

In a world where survival is no longer a real concern, what do we do with our hearts and minds? We make a world of status and value. Having sustenance is still what we need, but we are sold an idea that we now must have the best sustenance available. Food is no longer something we simply eat, it is a lifestyle and an entertainment. We share photos of our food with friends to prove we live a life of excess. We watch programs on TV about how to make the tastiest cakes.

We live such comfortable lives that food is the equivalent of reading a book or watching a movie. Something to fill time and bring us comfort. We have such an abundance of food that we can waste it on making ourselves feel good. Yet in parallel with this other people don’t have any food. Which means two things really. First, that they’re going hungry. But second that they don’t get to feel good.

Perhaps I’m falling into a trap here. I’m not sure how good food does make us feel. Like most things there’s the possibility that we simply believe it makes us feel good because that’s what we’re told. If we believe Coca Cola is refreshing on a cold day, people will buy Coca Cola. But does Coca Cola make us happy?

Now the kicker for me is, I know deep down there really is a connection between our (my) overindulgence and poverty and suffering in other places of the world. Some people must go hungry so that we can overeat. Some must be poor so I can be rich. The usual retort I make to feel better about this is that there’s nothing I can personally do about it. I am trapped in the system and can’t make a change.

Yet we could all make a change, but we don’t. Partly because of greed, but also because to help out everybody we would have to give up some slice of our own comfort. Something we’d never be able to do. We don’t know how to make sacrifices.

Each generation believes they are the most civilized. They look at their parents and their old values and wonder how they could be so naive while believing all along that they can do no wrong. One day I will grow old and a young person will look at me and wonder how I could have been so stupid. Why didn’t I do anything? About poverty, hunger, global warming, all the problems I knew about. I’ll reply back that it’s hard to understand, it was a different time, many understood change was needed but few were willing to do so.

All our problems are like that depressed alcoholic on the train. There in plain sight, but completely ignored. And nobody has the courage to stand up and do anything about it. Not even me.

From time to time, I’m confronted with the absurdity of life – the complete ridiculousness of everything.

There was a time long ago when these realisations would make me laugh. I’d be sitting at work one day, thinking about shoes. Like, how crazy are shoes when you truly think about them? Ok, they protect our feet, so they’re somewhat useful, but isn’t it amazing just how seriously people take shoes. How much we judge others based on their shoes. How much thought we put into selecting them, designing them, making them. All this time and energy spent on shoes when they’re just….SHOES!

So there I am at work, thinking about how we’re all taking shoes so seriously despite them being completely meaningless and I laugh. The person beside me asks “What’re you laughing at?” And it’s impossible to explain without looking stupid myself. The only thing more absurd than shoes is the idea that somebody, somewhere, is sitting pondering the absurity of said shoes. Which leads to even more amusement for me.

I’m not here to talk about shoes though, I’m here to talk about absurdity. The absurdity of everything. What’s lead me to this discussion (after months of blogging neglect) is London’s new cereal cafe.

Let me get you up to speed if you don’t know what I’m talking about. A new cafe has just opened in London which offers hundreds of different cereals (the breakfast food) which you can enjoy with a variety of flavoured milks. The cafe seems to have caused some minor controversy due to the fact it’s charging £3 ($5) for a bowl of cereal when it’s situated in an impoverished area of London.

Now I don’t care too much about the controversy. Or the fact that £3 is an obscene price for a bowl of cereal. I’m only a tiny bit bothered by the fact that the people running the cafe are a bunch of bearded hipsters.

No, the thing that itches at the back of my neck here is the absurdity of it all. It’s like the whole thing is a joke. I’m just waiting for somebody to pop up and scream “Hahaha! April Fools!” But the sad fact is that the world seems to become more ridiculous as time goes on and nobody seems to realise it.

Through the years I’ve started to wonder if lack something. Empathy? Sympathy? Some type of pathy. (Telepathy?) Because as hard as I try I just can’t understand people. What motivates a person to open a cereal cafe? What motivates a reporter to go to a cereal cafe and create a news story out of it? What motivates a person to buy cereal at such a cafe. But no these aren’t the questions.

The question is, what stops these people from killing themselves? Now that sounds like something a depressed person may say or even an emotionless psychopath. But I seriously can’t understand how a person can look in the mirror at night and think “Yeah, I sold some cereal today, my life is meaningful.” Or “I made a news report about a cereal cafe today, this is all worthwhile?” Or even “Hey, I’m so glad I spent all that time working so I could afford to buy this bowl of cereal.” Isn’t this all pathetic?

Now the problem with these thoughts is that they all lead back to the same place. Meaning. I’m of the opinion that life is meaningless – yes, I’m lots of fun at parties. But life is a little more bearable when you at least pretend your life has meaning.

Like “Ok, maybe there’s no God, maybe I’ll die and then I’ll be forgotten about because really I’m just a piece of dust in the wide scheme of the universe. But still…I’d better get up tomorrow and go to work as I’m a little cog in the big machine and if nobody turns up then nothing will get done!”

How on Earth does a person pretend their life has meaning when all they do is sell cereal to others. How do you tell yourself its all worthwhile when you’re only alive to do things like eat in cereal cafes?

The whole thing is so ridiculously utterly amazingly stupidly pointless that I should feel suicidal on their behalf. Instead I just feel suicidal on my own behalf because there are clearly people in the world that don’t think the whole thing is stupid – when they should!

I hope this cereal cafe is a turning point in history. That one day we’ll look back and think, “That was it, that was the peak of our indulgent society.”

Only then would this cereal cafe gain any significance. Maybe there is meaning in its uselessness. Just another straw to add to the camels back. Maybe one day we’ll do so much useless shit that we’ll finally be confronted with how stupid our lives are.

In that way the cereal cafe may be helping. Pushing us closer to rock bottom and the sudden realisation that many of us are simply alive to eat in cereal cafes and watch news stories about said cafes.

Maybe one day when I laugh at work about shoes, people will share my joke. “Hah, yeah, shoes are pretty weird aren’t they. Remember that horrible time 20 years ago when cereal cafes existed and people felt sad if they didn’t have the latest iPhone?” “Haha. Yeah! Classic man, classssic!”

Am I the only person in the world that perhaps hopes there’s more important things to do with our lives?

But then there isn’t anything more important. Everything is just as senseless as everything else. That’s what comes from a nihilistic attitude. Nothing has meaning. Which is the reason cereal cafes exist in the first place. To keep our mind off the fact that there is nothing else.

Now hurry up and give me some Honey Nut Cheerios before I kill myself.


One day, many years ago, I came up with an ingenious thought experiment which is the true test of how much I’m enjoying a job.

It’s simple. I pose myself this question:

If I somehow had a magical button that would allow me to black out every day at the start of work, waking me up hours later once I’m finished, would I use it? Read More

It all started when I got my first job.

I’d just finished my exams at school and was free to spend my summer however I pleased. I was 16 and still a child, but my mother got me a part-time job working in a government office during the evenings.

For a first job it was amazing: good pay, looked great on a resume and I was good at it too. Everything seemed perfect until the bullying started. Read More

With each year that goes by, my knuckles get a little hairier and my brow gets a little thinner. I change so gradually that I never truly notice it. Each day I look in the mirror and see the exact same person I saw the day before. Only when I look back on old photographs does it dawn on me that I have aged. Read More

Whenever I check my emails I am overcome with a brief sense of hope.

This is it, I think, today I’ll get the email of my dreams.

Sitting in my inbox will be a message from the CEO of some fantastic company saying “Daniel, I’ve read your blog and I’m so amazed by your talent that I’m going to pay you a million dollars for you to lazily write one blog post a month for my company. Don’t worry about the topic, just do what you like. That’s how much we value you.”

A fantasy. I check my inbox and it’s empty. Obviously. People rarely email strangers about anything. Who would want to contact another human being?! Isn’t it strange that we live in an age where we’re more connected than ever but nobody can be bothered to communicate. That would take far too much effort. Why is writing an email such hard work?

Instead, we wait. Checking our emails every 5 minutes in the hope we’ll receive something to validate ourselves. Nothing ever comes. Nothing at all these days.

There used to be a time when I’d get spam. That would keep me somewhat happy. For a few seconds I would be one step closer to that fantasy email. My computer would ding, I’d know there was something in my inbox. An email, an email! This is it. Then I’d check and it would be an advert for Amazon or a cry for help from a Nigerian prince.

Tick. Delete. Tick. Delete.

The process gave my email purpose. It became a form of game. I had to check my emails because if I didn’t the spam would build up. My email existed solely for this process of ticking and deleting.

Then something horrible happened. Google started blocking spam. In one fell swoop I no longer had to tick or delete.

Nevermind though, I still had all that legitimate spam to give me meaning. Newsletters, social network notifications and promotions. They all kept me coming back to my email. Gave me some reason to continue.

Then more recently something even worse happened. Google started automatically filtering these emails into folders for me. I never read them to begin with, I just deleted them, but now I don’t even have to do that. Out of sight, out of mind. My email has become twenty times as easy to check, but also it’s now twenty times as pointless for me to bother with it.

I’m left with nothing. My inbox is now a barren desert. Its only purpose is to mock me. “Nobody wants to email you! NOBODY!”

I’ve literally gone for weeks while travelling where I haven’t been able to check my email, then when I finally manage to do it there’s nothing there. Google has sorted and separated it so efficiently that I no longer need to exist. It’s only a matter of time before they start to reply automatically to my emails for me. Then I might as well kill myself because my life will be so automated that it will no longer matter that I’m there.

The only thing I live for now is to check my spam folder. Maybe my dream email was sent there by mistake? But no, it hasn’t been. Just emails for penis enlargement and sexy ladies.

I guess the only way to receive is to give. Send out emails and you’ll get replies. But there’s no fun in the expected. Knowing you’ll get a reply takes away half the fun. There’s no surprise in that.

Once in a blue moon somebody sends me an email after reading my blog. I get a feeling of warmth inside. For a few moments I’m important! I’m loved. My email is validated along with my life.

Yet when it comes to hit reply, I waver. Am I really going to have to spend 10 minutes of my valuable time writing an email? Who can be bothered with that? I’ve got more important things to do.

Like checking my Facebook.


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