Firstly, I can’t discuss the Oscars without referencing the hideous assault by Will Smith on the host, Chris Rock.
I’ve said all I need to say in various Facebook posts – but just to say that I found the incident shocking and appalling – but I found the audience’s response even more appalling. To applaud Will Smith and give him a standing ovation later when he won the Best Actor Oscar was shameful. Do these people lack all common decency and integrity?
Will Smith today has come out, some 24hrs later, and apologised to Chris Rock, but only after the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy resoundly condemned his actions and said that they would mount an investigation.
He had an opportunity to apologise to Chris Rock during his acceptance speech, but chose not to do so.
Bad joke or no, there’s simply no excuse to assault someone, and especially in front of a worldwide audience. What signal does that send out? With Hollywood standing and applauding, it sends out the signal that it’s okay to assault someone if you’re offended by what they’ve said.
And please, they call it a “slap,” as if that somehow diminishes the act of violence. It was an assault.
Enough of that. How did I go with my predictions? I did okay – I picked sixteen right and got four wrong.
Best Picture Coda WINNER: CODA
Best Director Jane Campion / The Power of the Dog WINNER: JANE CAMPION
Best Actor Will Smith / King Richard WINNER: WILL SMITH
Best Actress Nicole Kidman / Being the Ricardos WINNER: JESSICA CHASTAIN WRONG!
Best Supporting Actor Troy Kotsur / CODA WINNER: TROY KOTSUR
Best Supporting Actress Ariana DeBose / West Side Story WINNER: ARIANA De BOSE
Best Original Screenplay Kenneth Branagh / Belfast WINNER: KENNETH BRANAGH / BELFAST
Best Adapted Screenplay Jane Campion / The Power of the Dog WINNER: SIAN HEDER / CODA WRONG!
Best International Film Drive My Car WINNER: DRIVE MY CAR
Best Cinematography Greig Fraser / Dune WINNER: GREIG FRASER
Best Film Editing Dune WINNER: DUNE
Best Sound Mixing: Dune WINNER: DUNE
Best Production Design Dune WINNER: DUNE
Visual Effects Dune WINNER: DUNE
Original Score Dune / Hans Zimmer WINNER: DUNE
Original Song No Time to Die / No Time to Die WINNER: NO TIME TO DIE
Best Costume Design Dune WINNER: CRUELLA WRONG!
Best Makeup & Hair Dune WINNER: THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE WRONG!
Best Documentary Summer of Soul WINNER: SUMMER OF SOUL
Best Animated Feature Encanto WINNER: ENCANTO
So of the 20 predictions I made, I got four wrong. That’s an 80% success rate. That’s okay!
Each year, as many of you who follow this blog might know, I make my Oscar predictions.
I’m normally pretty good, with a strike rate usually in the mid 90% range.
This year it’s going to be difficult, because whilst The Power of the Dog seemed to have early momentum and be the front runner, CODA has recently taken the baton and now looks like the film to beat for Best Picture. But there’s also Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast to be considered, and Denis Villeneuve’s spectacular space epic, Dune. Not to mention Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.
It will be interesting to see whether Jane Campion’s faux pas involving the Williams sisters has an impact. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go onto Twitter and search #janecampion) Given that this occurred just before final voting for the Academy members commenced, and given the Academy’s strong stance on diversity etc, I suspect that it might have taken the shine off her film in certain circles. How much, is to be seen.
I haven’t seen all the movies this year. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza is the one film I’m dying to see. PTA is a director who, for me, has never made a bad movie, and in my eyes has made two masterpieces – Magnolia and There will be Blood.
Adam McKay’s subversive Don’t Look Up was an outrageous piece of work, and highly entertaining whilst also being a none-too-subtle call to action. The film was worth watching just to see Meryl Streep strut her stuff with utter joyous bravado.
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, featuring Olivia Coleman and Ed Harris, is a very human look at the cost of motherhood. It’s a beautifully made film with exquisite performances – but probably won’t make the cut as Best Picture.
For me, The Power of the Dog is a film I admire but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it a second time. It has some standout performances, and for me the highlight was Jonny Greenwood’s amazing score. Bing a longtime Radiohead fan, I really hope he gets the Oscar for it, although Hans Zimmer probably will for Dune.
Dune will probably take out the major craft awards.
Being the Ricardos was a tour de force for Nicole Kidman and also Javier Bardem – and I really hope Nicole gets the gong. Although the momentum seems to be going for Jessica Chastain, for The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
The best film of the year for me though was undoubtedly Drive My Car – a 3hr Japanese film based on a Murakami short story. It’s slow and it centres around the staging of a Chekhov play, so you can’t really say that it’s an immediately accessible film, but if you sit back and let it wrap itself around you, you will be amply rewarded.
Okay, so here are my predictions. As I say, this year is wide open with so many outstanding movies and performances – but here goes:
Oh, and as with last year, I’m making my prediction of who I think will win but adding my personal preference as to who I think should win!
Best Picture Coda BB: Drive My Car
Best Director Jane Campion / The Power of the Dog BB: Denis Villeneuve / Dune
Best Actor Will Smith / King Richard BB:Benedict Cumberbatch / The Power of the Dog
Best Actress Nicole Kidman / Being the Ricardos BB: Nicole Kidman / Being the Ricardos
Best Supporting Actor Troy Kotsur / CODA BB: Troy Kotsur / CODA
Best Supporting Actress Ariana DeBose / West Side Story BB: Kirsten Dunst / The Power of the Dog
Best Original Screenplay Kenneth Branagh / Belfast BB: Adam McKay / Don’t Look Up
Best Adapted Screenplay Jane Campion / The Power of the Dog BB: Ryusuke Hamaguchi / Drive My Car
Best International Film Drive My Car BB: Drive My Car
Original Score Dune / Hans Zimmer BB: Power of the Dog / Jonny Greenwood
Original Song No Time to Die / No Time to Die BB: No Time to Die / No Time to Die
Best Costume Design Dune BB: Dune
Best Makeup & Hair Dune BB: Dune
Best Documentary Summer of Soul BB: The Rescue I (Not nominated)
Best Animated Feature Encanto BB: Encanto
So on Sunday night US time, Monday Australian time, we’ll know the results. We’ll find out whether Netflix has finally got a Best Picture film in its library (The Power of the Dog), or whether Apple TV+ has done it with CODA. Or maybe some other film…
Whatever the result, I finish off by saying that it’s an absolute insult to the industry and to the brilliant crafts-people working in film that the Academy has chosen not to screen the award presentations to the categories such as music composition, editing, sound, production design, wardrobe etc… These aren’t deemed “sexy” enough to make prime time hey? Well try making a film without an editor, without a sound designer, without a production designer.
At the moment I’m editing in Sydney (my new Facing Fear film) – and coming back to Mudgee on the weekends.
Last week, as I was about to leave home, I looked over at my spare reading glasses and I got a strong intuitive PGS hit that I should take these glasses with me.
Just to explain: I need glasses to read. I can’t read without my glasses now. I simply can’t.
But I went nah. I don’t need to take a spare pair of glasses. I have my main pair, which I love, and that’s enough. So I left home without taking my spare pair of glasses.
I lost my glasses. I could not find them anywhere. I’d been watching telly with my son at his place, I’d settled down to read before I went to sleep, and I could not find my glasses anywhere.
I turned the place upside down. I searched everywhere. It was crazy. I’d brought them into the house. They had to be somewhere. But do you think I could find them?
I found them, finally. They’d slipped under a sofa. It took me over an hour to find them.
While searching I kept thinking I should have brought my back-up pair.
Next day, I’m in the editing suite with Rishi, my editor. I needed to read a script I’d written. I needed my glasses. I couldn’t find them. Again.
To put this into context. I never lose my glasses. Like, never. And I’d now lost them twice in two days. (yeah yeah, I know, I found them the previous night)
Again, I searched everywhere. Rishi searched everywhere. I called my son, who was working from home, and asked him to look for them.
He searched everywhere. My bedroom, the kitchen, even where I’d parked. No sign of the glasses.
I searched the car. Maybe they’d slipped down the side of the seat. Rishi came out and helped me. Judith, a friend who’d stopped by, searched too. None of us could find the glasses.
I was facing the prospect of five days where I couldn’t read – or indeed write because I needed my glasses for writing too.
If only I’d brought my spare back-up glasses.
Several hours later, Rishi came into the editing room proudly brandishing my glasses. Evidently they’d slipped out of my pocket while I was walking along a laneway from the carpark to the entrance to the editing facility.
A tradesman had picked them up and very kindly dropped them at the reception desk of the editing facility – Rishi had seen them there and had figured they were mine.
So I got my glasses back. And fortunately no one had driven up that laneway and driven over my glasses – and indeed they were completely undamaged.
SO WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
The way I see it, my intuition (my PGS – Personal Guidance System) – had told me I should take my spare reading glasses to Sydney.
I ignored that advice.
So then my PGS manoevered circumstances so that I would wish that I’d listened to the advice and acted upon it. For me, it was a reminder that I should not ignore my intuition.
It was a lesson.
You might not agree. You might think I’m a loon.
Watch my movie – PGS Intuition is your Personal Guidance System. It’s now on iTunes and Google Play worldwide. Watch that and you might see things a little differently.
I read a lot. Probably about 2hrs a day. Or more. And by “read” I mean books, not social media or news. Add another few hours for that!
I mostly read fiction – between the hours of 2:30am and 4:30-5:30am.
I’m a slow reader. I like to savour each word, and often I will re-read passages to fully understand how the writer has done it – made me feel or think a particular way.
I read on a Kindle. Much as I miss the tactile sensation of reading a book-book, I like to be able to adjust the font size on an e-book. And I can read at odd hours and not need the light on, which would wake Jennifer.
Plus I like the percentage-read function on my Kindle. From a technical viewpoint it enables me to understand the way the writer has structured the material.
Reading for me is both a joy, but also tutelage.
This year I discovered two great writers – Ursula K Le Guin, and Hanuki Murakami.
The two best books I read were Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Murakami’s 1Q84, a series of three books in fact.
In the spiritual realm, Paul Selig’s continuing series of channeled work, Alchemy and The Kingdom from the Beyond the Known trilogy once again deeply affected the way I see the world, and my place and function in it.
As you will see from the list below, my taste in material varies widely. I am a big fan of Stephen King, and yet I gobbled down Ursula K Le Guin’s Tales from EarthSea series of six books – not exactly light reading.
So here’s my list, roughly in chronological order from the beginning of the year:
Books I’ve Read / 2021
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens 👍👍👍👍
Die Trying – Lee Child 👍👍👍
The Suspect – Michael Robotham 👍👍👍
The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield 👍👍👍
The Alchemist (re-read)- Paulo Coehelo 👍👍👍👍
The Kingdom – Jo Nesbo 👍👍
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (re-read) – 👍👍👍👍
The Cosmic Fire – Alice Bailey 👍👍👍
The LightWorkers Companion (re-read) – Amanda Guggenheimer 👍👍👍👍
AWE The Automatic Writing Experience – Michael Sandler 👍👍👍👍
The Six Books from EarthSea – Ursula K le Guin 👍👍👍👍
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K le Guin 👍👍👍👍
Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson 👍👍👍
The Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson 👍👍👍
The Hero of Ages – Brandon Sanderson 👍👍👍
Billy Summers – Stephen King 👍👍
The Consciousness of the Atom (re-read) – Alice Bailey 👍👍👍
Saint Germain on Alchemy (re-read) – Mark L Prophet & Elizabeth Clare Prophet 👍👍👍
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway – 👍👍👍👍
The Old Man and the Sea (re-read) – Ernest Hemingway 👍👍👍👍
To a God Unknown (re-read)- John Steinbeck 👍👍👍👍
The Pearl (re-read) – John Steinbeck 👍👍👍👍
The Convoluted Universe Bk1 (re-read)- Dolores Cannon 👍👍👍👍
Later – Stephen King 👍👍
The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn 👍
The Flight Attendant- Chris Bojhalian 👍👍👍
Intimate Conversations with the Divine – Caroline Myss 👍👍👍👍
The Paris Crime Files – Pierre Lamaitre 👍👍👍
In the Woods -Tana French 👍👍
The Searcher – Tana French👍👍
Beyond the Known: Realization – Paul Selig 👍👍👍👍
Beyond the Known: Alchemy – Paul Selig 👍👍👍👍
The Interior Castle – St Teresa of Avila 👍👍👍
Between Death and Life -Dolores Cannon 👍👍👍👍
Divine Healing of Mind and Body – Murdo MacDonald-Bayne 👍👍
Dowsing – The Ultimate Guide for the 21st Century – Elizabeth Brown 👍👍👍
Given the stay-at-home nature of this year, Jennifer and I watched a lot of telly. Some of it was exceptional, some execrable .
Apart from the shows listed below, I watched a lot of sport:
Swannies. Watched every game of my beloved Australian Rules team. They didn’t make the Grand Final but they played hard honest footy.
Cricket. Watched pretty much every game Australia played, including all the games in our amazing T20 World Cup win. (not a big fan of the Big Bash). The Ashes have been required watching.
Formula1 Grand Prix. Watched every Practice session, every Qualifying session, and every race of this year’s F1 season. Hamilton was robbed by the Race Director in the final race. He should be 8 times World champ.
Liverpool. Watched pretty much every match of Jurgen Klopp’s team of stars. My son Clancy is a die-hard fan and we share this. Salah is poetry in motion. A joy to watch. Still can’t wrap my head around the off-side rule though!
So that’s the sport I watched.
Jennifer is a cricket tragic, even more so than me – so she watched all the cricket with me. She also watched all the Swannies games, more out of loyalty to me than the team.
She doesn’t get F1 at all and is still confused/shocked/in-denial that I have taken such an obsessive hold on the sport. She thinks it’s boring and stupid, and tells me so regularly.
So that leaves the shows!
Standout shows for me were: Succession, Squid Game, The Expanse, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, (a late discovery, I know!) and the reality show, Alone.
I haven’t yet seen the 2nd season of The Great, but if it’s anything like the first season then it’ll be up there too.
So here is my list, with my rankings. I’m sure you’ll disagree, but let’s all agree that we’re living through an age of magnificent storytelling on telly!
Fauda – Netflix 👍👍👍👍
Tehran – Apple+ 👎
The Flight Attendant. – Binge 👍👍
Surviving Death – Netflix 👍 👎
Trust – Binge 👍👍
Your Honor- Stan 👎
Vast of Night (m) – Amazon Prime 👍👍
The Magicians – Amazon 👍👍
Servant – Apple+ 👍👍
The Sinner S3 Prime 👍
Baptiste – iView 👍👍
The Missing -iView 👍👍👍
Lovecraft Country – Binge 👎
Call my Agent S1 S2 S3 – Netflix 👍👍👍
The Stand – Amazon👎👎👎
Liar – Stan 👍
One of Us – Stan 👎
Behind Her Eyes – Netflix 👍
News of the World (m) – Netflix 👍👍
Losing Alice – Apple+ 👍👍👍
I Care a Lot (m) – Amazon 👎
WandaVision – Disney+ 👍👎
Allen vs Farrow – Binge 👍👍
The Crown S4 – Netflix 👍👍👍
Emily in Paris – Netflix 👎👎
Undercover – Netflix 👍
The Lady and the Dale – Binge 👍👍👍
Formula 1 / Drive to Survive – Netflix 👍👍👍👍
The Cecil Hotel – Netflix 👍👍
My Octopus Teacher (m)- Netflix 👍👍👍👍
Time (m) – Amazon 👍👍👍
The Serpent – Netflix – 👎👎
Worn Stories – Netflix 👎👎
Capitani- Netflix- 👍
Them – Amazon Prime – 👍👍
Shadow & Bone – Netflix 👍👍
The Woods – Netflix 👍
Riviera – SBS 👎
Marcella – Netflix 👎
His Dark Materials (S2) – Binge 👍👍👍
Mythic Quest S1 – Apple TV+ 👍👍👍
Deepwater Fell – SBS Demand 👍👎
Halston – Netflix 👍👍
SkyRojo – Netflix 👎👎
Woman in the Window (m) – Netflix 👎
Nomadland m – Disney+ 👍👍👍👍
Mr Mercedes S1 – SBS 👍👍
Le Innocente – Netflix 👍👎
Mare of Easttown – Binge 👍👍
1971 – Apple+ 👍
Ragarnok – Netflix 👍👍👍
Sweet Tooth- Netflix 👍👍👍
Trying – S1S2 Apple+ 👍👍
Katla – Netflix 👍👍👍
Physical – Apple+ 👍👍
Barry – Binge 👍👍👍
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 – iTunes 👍👍👍👍
Lisey’s Story – Apple 👎👎
Mr Mercedes S2 – SBS 👍👍👍
The Witcher S1 – Netflix 👍👍
Love Robots + Sex – Netflix 👍👍👍
Mythic Quest S2 – Apple+👍👍👍
Sophie Murder West Cork – Netflix👍👍
Trying S2 – Apple+ 👍👍
Hacks – Stan 👍👍👍👍
White Lotus – Binge 👍👍👍
The Gift – Netflix 👍👍👍
Clickbait -Netflix 👍
The Chair – Netflix 👍
Alone S1 S2 S3 S4 – SBS on Demand 👍👍👍👍
Always Sunny in Philadelphia S8 S9 S10 S11 S12 – iTunes 👍👍👍👍
As readers of this blog know, each year around this time I do an an “audit” of what I achieved this year pegged against what I hoped to achieve this time last year.
Before I go into that though – this year has been another year of staying at home, hunkering down, focusing on staying safe and keeping productive.
I have to say, Jennifer and I have really enjoyed not traveling. Prior to the pandemic, we averaged three to four trips a year overseas. Since late January 2019 we haven’t stepped onto a plane – and it’s been glorious. I don’t miss traveling one jot – I do though miss seeing our friends in various countries around the world. That I miss.
For me, this year has been spent writing and reading and watching telly. Oh, and exercising.
In separate blogs I’m going to post what I watched, and my ratings for each show or movie (on telly) – and what books I read. Just to say though that this year I discovered the work of two truly great authors – Ursula K Le Guin, and Haruki Murakami. Yes, I know, they’ve been around yonks – in fact Ursula Le Guin is dead – but I’ve been bowled over by their writing.
So, here we go… the audit of what I set out to achieve, and what I actually achieved:
Complete Facing Fear – The Movie.(This will depend on Covid related restrictions, and I don’t know if it will be possible.) No, I didn’t complete the film because of COVID, but I have started editing and I hope to have the film finished by midway through next year, for release in September.
Set up KISS OR KILL as a limited TV series. No, it isn’t yet set up but I wrote the screenplay for the first episode and detailed treatments for the remaining seven episodes. Several major tv production companies are considering it at the moment. Separate to that though, I have been approached by two producers to do a US remake of the film, and those discussions are now in progress.
Set up The Way, My Way as a limited TV series. No, this hasn’t happened either. I decided to keep it as a feature film and wrote several drafts of the screenplay which my Australian distributor and US based sales agent feel is good enough to send out to cast. We’ll be shooting this movie in Spain in April/May 2023.
Write the screenplay for an alien-based comedy. Yes, I did that. I did about ten drafts of the screenplay. It’s called Small Town Alien and it’s on the runway too!
Write another novel. Yes, I did that too and it’s called The Golden Bridge. It’s 70K words and it will be published next year. It’s about a man who leaves home on the day of his wife’s funeral and heads off into the desert. He’s a structural engineer and he comes to believe that he can be reunited with his wife if he builds a golden bridge of light.
So – that’s what I said I’d do a year ago, and that’s my scorecard for the year.
Apart from that I wrote the screenplay and treatment for the TV adaptation of my YA trilogy Palace of Fires, and that’s currently being considered by one of the major streamers OS.
On a personal level, I rediscovered my love of classical music. I used to listen to classical music avidly when I was younger, and have now returned to it. Seiji Ozawa’s rendition of Swan Lake with the Boston Symphony Orchestra is transcendent. As is Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto by Van Cliburn.
I also discovered Formula One motor racing, thanks to the Netflix series Drive to Survive and have become an obsessive fan. I’ve watched every practice session, every qualifying session and every race this year. I’m jumping out of my skin with excitement about tonight’s final race between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. It should be a cracker. I really hope Hamilton wins, and becomes eight times world champ.
What do I hope to achieve in 2022?
Complete Facing Fear – The Movie.
Secure the financing for The Way, My Way.
Set up Kiss or Kill as a feature film remake in the US.
Set up Palace of Fires as a limited TV series in the US.
Write another novel – a thriller this time.
2022 will also be Jennifer and my 40th wedding anniversary. That’ll be spesh.
I drove into the Woolies carpark – Saturday 11:15am. Peak time.
The carpark was chockers. Not a space anywhere. Plus I had five cars ahead of me cruising to pounce on a spot.
I was anxious. Because at midday I was to be interviewed on a major US podcast show. Mentors & Moguls, by Heather Stone. I wasn’t sure which category I fitted into – whether I was a mentor or a mogul. But whatever – it was an important podcast, I didn’t want to be late and I had to do the week’s shopping.
But first, I had to find a park, and there was nothing free.
So I went into my PGS mode – I put out the intention that I would find the perfect parking spot, and I would find it quickly.
So I drove slowly behind the line of five cars, and as I passed each row of cars I saw that there were no free spaces to be had in any of these rows, and no one was walking to a car from Woolies about to hop in and drive off. There was no movement at all.
So here’s what I did – I turned into the row that was closest to the entrance to Woolies. The row that would provide me the ideal parking spot. But the row was completely full, and there was no one in their vehicle about to pull out.
The cars in front of me kept going – they saw too that the row was full. They kept cruising. But I drove into this completely full row. I drove towards the entrance – to the end of the row. The closer I got to the end of the row, and to the entrance to the shopping centre, the more perfect the parking spot would be – but it was full.
And then I saw taillights turn red. Someone was in a car in the most perfect spot possible. And then their reverse lights came on. And then they slowly backed out, providing me the parking spot that I wanted – the ideal parking spot right by the front entrance.
I waited for the elderly lady to back out and then I drove in – and as I was parking I saw the line of five cruising cars drive slowly past – each driver glaring at me with undisguised hostility.
Or it could have been envy.
Anyway, what happened? I set my intention, I trusted and I held my belief even when it seemed impossible.
Coincidence, you might say. I’ll say in response that yes, it might be coincidence if this happens randomly, but this now happens to me all the time. I’m serious. Anyone who has driven with me will verify this.
You know what the trick to it is? ASK. You have to ask. Most people don’t ask – so they don’t get.
And then you have to TRUST.
Watch my movie PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System. It’s out now on iTunes and Google Play. Or you can read my book: PGS the Book on Amazon.
We’re coming up to Christmas. We’re going to be shopping – parking. Try it. It works!
I’ve been writing a new book. A novel, called The Golden Bridge.
I’m almost finished.
It’s about a man who leaves home the day of his wife’s funeral, and instead of going to the funeral he decides to take a long walk. He ditches his phone, his wallet with all his credit cards and ID, his GPS watch – he rids himself of his identity.
During the walk into the heart of the country he meets various people and undergoes a fundamental change. We learn during the walk that he’s killed his wife.
The book will be published early next year.
Here’s an excerpt:
He felt like he was in a box, a smoke-filled box, and he’d lived his entire life in this box, and he knew nothing other than what existed in the box. That was his world. That’s what he knew and that’s all he knew. But tonight someone had punched a hole in the top of the box and let a shaft of light in, and for the first time in his life he was aware that there was more than just the box. There was a world outside the box. A bigger larger world where there was light, and mystery, and beauty in the mystery. He wanted to step into that shaft of light. More than anything, he wanted to step into that light. But where did that light come from? And who punched the hole in the top of the box? The punch had come from outside the box. Outside the world he knew. Who or what did that? And why? And why now? Here, tonight?
Here’s how judgment works on the Camino. It works with a simple innocent question:
Where did you start from?
With that one question, you put judgment into train. Oh, you started from Sarria did you? (Meaning, you did the minimum walking required to get your Compostela)
Immediately you find yourself judging that person. You’re not a truepilgrim, you say to yourself. I started at St Jean Pied de Port. I’ve walked further than you. I’m better than you.
Bloody hell, you started in St. Petersburg? Are you serious? That’s gotta be like, five thousand ks or something, no? You’re a shitload better pilgrim than me!
The Camino is a great place to shed judgment. For starters, most pilgrims are stripped of those material things that might prompt judgment.
You meet a pilgrim on the track and you are denied information about where they live – castle/mansion/free-standing house/semi-detached house/townhouse/unit/rented/owned/back seat of their car.
Or the kind of car they might drive – Bentley/Mercedes/Tesla/Kia/Kombi-van/junkheap aka shitbox.
And you can’t judge pilgrims by their accessories.
Women don’t often wear jewellery as a rule, and men tend to leave their Rolexes or their Philippe Pateks at home. Most pilgrims wear the same kind of clobber. Some might go upmarket and wear Jack Wolfskin or Arc’teryx, some might have bought all their gear from Decathlon, the big European discount store. But by and large you’ve got very little to judge people on.
It’s hard to judge pilgrims based on the usual criteria we use to judge. But given that we just love to judge, we’re then left to use other more nuanced means, such as the above innocent question.
One of my favourites was: How much does your backpack weigh? I could make very serious judgements about a person based on their response.
If their backpack was way in excess of 10% of their body weight I would classify them as a novice pilgrim. If their backpack was way less than 10% of their body weight I would classify them as an idiot. If they told me to fuck off I’d respectfully nod and fuck off.
At the heart of judgment is separation. And a belief that you are inherently better than the person you’re judging.
You know more, you have more, you have better style and taste, you have superior skills, in one way or another you are better than the person you’re judging.
And in determining this, you feel better about yourself.
I try not to judge anymore. It’s difficult, but I’ve learned the difference between judgment and discernment.
Judgment is a hierarchical mechanism. With the person judging being higher up the hierarchical scale than the person being judged.
Discernment is a preferential mechanism. What do you prefer? What’s appropriate and what’s not? There’s no separation in discernment.
We can’t take judgment out of our system. We need judgment to make cogent choices. But instead of using judgment to separate, we can use discernment to determine what’s a better fit, without the need to condemn or vilify or ridicule.
I can go to a movie and I can come out and say I like that movie or I don’t like that movie and I can choose to say what I say using either judgment or discernment.
These days I try and use discernment. Except when it comes to Marvel movies…
Since the pandemic began, in February 2020, my wife Jennifer and I have been hunkering down in our home in Mudgee, a beautiful wine-growing town 4hrs drive NW of Sydney.
We’ve been very fortunate. We have a large house in large grounds and up until quite recently, the virus didn’t come to our town. But even so, we sat tight and battened down and followed all the health orders.
Our lifestyle changed dramatically. Prior to the pandemic, we’d been travelling quite extensively overseas for work, filming then marketing PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System, then shooting the next film in the trilogy, Facing Fear.
Suddenly, all that changed. We were stuck at home. No more travelling. No more getting on and off planes. No more going through security. No more rental cars driving on the wrong side of the road. No more hotels and crappy restaurants. No more figuring out how much tip to leave.
At first it felt weird. Being at home. Only going out to do grocery shopping. That now has been our life for the past twenty months. Twenty months. My God, that’s almost two years!
Two years stuck at home.
And you know what? It’s been glorious! I seriously hope I never have to get on another plane in my life. I’m serious!
Mudgee has been in lockdown the past nine weeks, but this past week that’s been lifted, and because our state of New South Wales yesterday reached 80% full vaccinations (Jennifer and I are double-jabbed), restrictions are starting to lift.
But I don’t know it will mean much to Jennifer and me, because we’ve got into a routine which we really like.
I used to hate the notion of being in a routine. I railed against the notion of a routine. Every fibre in my body resisted routinely doing anything. I liked surprises. I liked doing things differently each day. I relished the thought of not knowing what a new day would bring.
All that’s changed. I’m now in a routine and I love it!
So here’s my routine. And believe me, it doesn’t change.
2:30am – 5am I wake up and read. That’s how I start my day. Usually I’ve gone to sleep the night before at about 10:30pm, so what with a few bouts of sleeplessness I usually wake up having had about three and a half hours sleep.
At the moment I’m reading Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and I’m loving it. I usually read for two hours or so, then I put myself back to sleep with a meditation mantra – Paul Selig’s:
I know who I am in truth I know what I am in truth I know how I serve in truth I am free, I am free, I am free.
Paul, through his Guides, says this shouldn’t be used as a mantra but I’ve found it helps me disengage and get back to sleep.
7am – 8:30am (or thereabouts) I then usually wake at somewhere between 6:30am and 7am. I get up and go downstairs and have a coffee – a double espresso- then I do what I call my 20/20. Twenty minutes of yoga and twenty minutes of meditation. I do this every day. Usually the yoga blows out to 30mins or more, and quite often I do more than twenty minutes meditation too. I use an app – Insight Timer – and often use binaural beats to get me deep.
8:30am – 1pm This is my writing time. I interrupt it only to make Jennifer coffee and sometimes toast with Vegemite. I take this up to her when I hear she’s awake. We have a chat then I go back downstairs and continue with my writing.
This is when I have breakfast – a small bowl of home-made muesli with almond milk.
Sometimes when I’m in full-on writing mode I shift to a different routine. I wake up at 4am or thereabouts and go downstairs immediately and write till about 11am or so. I then do my 20/20 in the afternoon. I’m in full-on writing mode when I’m in the creative phase of conceiving something new, and my thoughts come through dreams, and I know I have to get it down straight away. I write in a semi somnambulistic state.
I try to leave this morning period entirely free for writing. Sometimes I have to do zoom meetings with the US, and because of the time difference the only time that can be done is in my morning – and sometimes I have to do interviews for podcasters or YouTubers – but I try and keep this morning time free of interruptions so that I can write unimpeded.
1pm – 2:30pm This is the time when I have some lunch and chat with Jennifer. Usually a salad, but sometimes an omelette or eggs and bacon. I only have coffee before 10am. After that I switch to Darjeerling tea. Black, no sugar.
2:30pm – 4pm During this time I do admin work – answer emails, follow up on the various projects I have in development or financing. Do personal stuff too.
4pm – 5:30pm Around 4pm, sometimes earlier, I go upstairs and I read for an hour or so, then I have a nap. If for whatever reason I haven’t already done my 20/20 I do it after my nap.
5:30pm – 6:30pm I then go downstairs and chat with Jen and then I do my exercise. My exercise is 40-50 minutes on my exercise bike, while watching telly. I usually watch a show or sport that Jennifer wouldn’t want to watch – either Formula One or English Premier League, or a show that might be a bit violent or not to her taste. My exercise is usually HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. It tuckers me out! On Sundays I do 60 minutes.
6:30pm – 7pm This is dinner time. This is the time we talk – usually about story. Shows we’ve watched, books we’ve read. Sometimes we talk about politics. Jennifer cooks. She’s an amazing cook. After dinner we clean up and make tea ready for the evening’s telly.
7pm – 10pm This time is sacrosanct. We watch TV. For us, it’s both enjoyment and work. We are ferocious in our analysis of what we watch. Production, performance, casting, the writing. We need to keep up with what’s being produced, and often we are in awe of what’s being produced. We have subscriptions to Netflix (of course!), Binge (incl HBO), Stan, Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Kayo, and we watch SBS on Demand too. This is a very important time of the day for us.
10pm – 10:30pm Bed time and reading. The reading makes me sleepy. I’m usually out to it by 10:30pm – 10:45pm. I have a FitBit and it tracks my sleep. I usually average about 6hrs sleep a night, including my afternoon kip. My resting heart rate usually sits around 62-63 bpm.
Then the next day starts around 2:30am again which is when I pick up my Kindle and begin to read.
So that’s my routine. And I gotta say, I love it. I’m productive, I stay healthy, and I have time to spend with the most important person in my life, which is Jennifer.