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.
At the beginning of this year, I started following Formula 1 motor racing.
This came as a big surprise to my dear wife Jennifer, to my family, and to those that I confided in – because I have largely kept it my dirty little secret, until now that is!
Why was it a surprise? Because I’m no way a rev-head. I’ve shown zero interest in motor sports until I began watching a documentary series on Netflix called Drive to Survive, which was a series following the F1 circuit for an entire season.
After watching this doco I got hooked. And I mean obsessively hooked.
For the whole year I’ve watched every practice session, every qualifying session, every race. I listen to F1 podcasts. I keep up to date with all the latest news on the F1 app. I am a fan.
Why? Me, who drives a sedate station wagon that’s done 250,000kms and is 12 years old. Me, who doesn’t know how to top up the windscreen wiper fluid. Me, who would have to call the NRMA if I got a flat tyre.
Pathetic, isn’t it?
But I’ve become fascinated with Formula 1 because it is heightened drama. The stakes each race are huge. The egos each race are huge. The margins between winning and losing are wafer thin. The technology is mind-bogglingly sophisticated.
And then there’s Lewis Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton is seven times World Champion and this year he’s going for his eighth title. If he gets it, he will be the greatest driver in Formula 1 motor racing history.
His nemesis is a young up-and-coming Dutch driver named Max Verstappen. Hamilton drives for Mercedes and Verstappen drives for Red Bull. One makes cars and the other makes putrid energy drinks.
You can tell who I’m rooting for.
Lewis Hamilton is humble, a sweet guy, and could well become one of the world’s greatest ever elite sportsmen. It all comes down to the final few races of the season. At the moment Max Verstappen is leading him by six points.
I watched this morning a replay of last night’s Turkish Grand Prix. I won’t go into the details, but there was a crucial moment in the race when Lewis Hamilton was instructed by his race director over the team radio to pit-stop and get a new set of tyres fitted.
Hamilton didn’t want to. He wanted to keep going and finish the race on his original set of tyres. Initially, he refused to follow his race director’s instructions. He had the chance of finishing close to Verstappen.
But a few laps later when his race director insisted, Hamilton acquiesced and went into the pits, had his tyres changed, and when he came back out onto the track again his new tyres weren’t working for him and he ended up coming fifth in the race, when he could have come third.
Hamilton, unusually for him, was furious. He said over the team radio that he should have followed his gut. Read about it here…
What’s ME Time? (notice I capitalise me? That’s to emphasis to myself that I’m important!)
ME Time is time for me. For my nourishment, replenishment, for my growth. Because I can’t give out to others if I’m a stunted withered soul.
It’s like what they tell you as you’re about to take off on a flight – (remember those times?) Grab the oxygen mask and use it yourself before you look to share it with others.
Same deal with ME Time.
We have this perfect opportunity right now during this pandemic. Many of us here in Australia are in lockdown, or we’re working from home, or for whatever reason we find that we have more disposable time on our hands than we’ve ever had before.
It’s a perfect opportunity to grab some ME Time.
So what is ME Time?
For me I’ve decided to institute a daily routine of yoga and meditation, every day without fail. 20 minutes of yoga minimum, 20 minutes of meditation minimum. That’s not too onerous, right? I can find 40 mins at the beginning of each day. And that then sets me up for the rest of the day.
What I’m finding though is that the 20 minutes yoga often becomes 30-40 minutes because I get into it. Same with the meditation. I end up doing 30 minutes or more. And that’s great. But bare minimum, 20/20.
That’s me – my thing. Your thing might be gardening. Or sewing. Or getting out on a bike. Or cooking. Whatever it is that gives you pleasure, and nourishes your soul. Simply getting out into nature is good ME Time.
This whole pandemic has made me reassess what’s important. And yes family is important. Of course. And those that I love.
But I’m also important. My health. My well being. My mental state.
This is not selfishness, this is not narcissism. This is survival.
And like I say, I can’t hope to give out to others if I’m depleted. Physically, mentally, emotionally.
I’ve been watching this show on telly called Alone. In Australia it’s on SBS on Demand. It’s a reality tv show where ten people are dropped off into remote wilderness and they have to survive for as long as possible. And the last man, or woman, standing wins $500,000. The unique twist to this is that there’s no crew. They film themselves. So they are totally alone.
I’ve never watched a reality tv show before. I’m serious. Never. They’ve always seemed too contrived and manipulative for my tastes. But there’s something very real and authentic about this show. And what’s interesting about it is that as the days click by and as it gets tougher and tougher, these people become more inward looking, and dare I say it, spiritual.
And invariably, what causes them to tap out and ask to be picked up and taken back to civilisation is often not because they’re starving, or they’re scared of bears or cougars or whatever, but because they miss their loved ones, or because they break mentally.
Interestingly. so far with the seasons I’ve watched, none of them meditate.
But I mention this in relation to ME Time because we can so easily forget that we need to look after ourselves. In the past we have so often defined ourselves by our work, by what we do, that’s who we are. But this pandemic has forced many of us to redefine ourselves outside of our work, because we’ve either lost our jobs or our jobs have changed or we’ve realised that perhaps there are other more significant ways to consider ourselves, other than through work.
For many of us, the work ethos that we thought was crucial we’ve discovered isn’t that crucial anymore.
I get asked this question quite a lot – often when I launch a new film or book. Where do your ideas come from? And I always give the same answer –
And I don’t. I don’t have a bloody clue. I’m just thankful the ideas do come. But I’m often disappointed that the ideas aren’t better.
I often seem to be given those shop-soiled heavily-discounted last-season ideas that must have been dragged from the bottom of the remainders bin near to the express check-out in the Cheap Ideas SupaStore, you know, the one in that part of town where you risk getting mugged.
Why can’t I get better ideas? Why can’t I get ideas from the Oscar-winning, Palm d’Or-winning, Booker-winning stores that the people I admire shop at?
These elite stores are inaccessible to me, it seems. When they see me coming they flip the sign on their front door from OPEN to CLOSED. They close the shutters and put out the garbage. If I pound on the door and insist they open up they call security.
Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to be happy with my last season heavily discounted shop soiled ideas.
I’ll put lipstick on them.
Anyway, back to Where do Your Ideas come from?
I was listening to a podcast the other day and this woman was talking about a book she’d just written, and she proudly announced that she had channelled it.
Like that made it special. Like that made her special.
Give me a bloody break. Get over yourself sweetheart, as Caroline Myss would say. Get off your pretentious self-serving high horse.
EVERYTHING is channelled. ALL ideas are channelled. Except most of us don’t know it, or recognise it, or acknowledge it.
We all get ideas all the time, we just don’t value them. Or we don’t trust them. Or we don’t know what to do with them. We haven’t developed the skills to do something with them, or we don’t wish to develop those skills.
An idea can change your life. It can change the lives of others. It can change the world.
There’s a lot of conspiracy theories flying around at the moment.
Poor much maligned Bill Gates. Poor much maligned 5G Poor much maligned microchips.
Here’s one for you:
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are using nanotechnology and cryptocurrency to create a world-wide pedophile ring of nubile young aliens brought back to earth by Jeff Bezos on his last space flight. The VIP client list for this ring include Bill and Hilary Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein, who is not dead but has been hiding out on a luxury yacht in international waters working with Donald Trump on his new presidential bid. Donald Trump by the way died of COVID that time he went to hospital and the CIA along with George Lucas have secretly created a robotic clone of him that’s indistinguishable from his original self. George Lucas has locked in his personal vault the original footage that Stanely Kubrick shot for NASA of the moon landing which never happened but was faked by Kubrick after the great work he did on 2001 – A Space Odyssey. Oh and by the way, Mark Zuckerberg was seen in Wuhan in November 2019 carrying a locked metal briefcase, then a week later he bought a shitload of stock in Pfizer. I kid you not.
What, you don’t believe that? Well prove I’m wrong! Go on, prove it! You can’t, hey? See – I’m right!
I watch the news. I not only watch the news, I listen to the news. And I read news from a variety of sources.
I live in a small country town outside of Sydney yet each day I read the Washington Post, the New York Times, the BBC World service (off their app), the Sydney Morning Herald, and Wired magazine. I get emailed newsletters from them all too.
In the morning while I have my shower I listen to the breakfast show on Radio National on the ABC, or the ABC’s radio current affairs show AM. Of an evening I watch the first half of SBS news. It gives me a global perspective.
I don’t watch Fox news, commercial television news, I don’t read any Murdoch newspapers. And I don’t get my news from social media, or from Google.
Now, you might say that I live in a left wing echo chamber and you might be right. So what? I believe I’m capable of discerning between what’s news and what’s commentary.
I was trained as a journalist.
I studied journalism at university before getting a cadetship at the ABC. I completed my three year cadetship and then joined the ABC’s flagship current affairs show This Day Tonight. For a brief period I worked on Four Corners before moving from current affairs to documentaries. After twelve years working as a journalist and documentarian I moved into independent filmmaking.
Why am I telling you this?
Because the world is going through a time of unparalleled change, and I believe it’s critically important that I keep up with things, to know what’s going on and why, so that I can make informed decisions that affect not only me but my loved ones, my country and the world.
Also, how can I ever hope to contribute creatively if I don’t have any social or political context?
I don’t understand people who say they don’t watch the news.
There’s a lot of so-called new-age people who say that. They think this somehow protects them from all the negative energy that they perceive to be out there.
What a load of crap.
It’s like saying you’re going to cross the road with your eyes shut because you don’t want to get hit by a car.
Burying your head in the sand isn’t going to change things. What’s going to change things is action based on informed choice.
There’s many who say they don’t believe the mainstream media. They talk about fake news. I’ve worked as a journalist and what I know is this – good journalists are driven by a strong desire to expose contradiction and hypocrisy. That’s what gets them out of bed each day.
The media conglomerates might have their agendas, such as the Murdoch empire, but if you are selective in what news you ingest, you can remain factually informed.
History is happening around us every day, and it’s being chronicled by the news. I saw floods in subways in New York the other night. It looked straight out of a disaster movie. This is climate change in action.
Like all the bushfires. Like the destruction of the magnificent Barrier Reef.
I saw the storming of the Capital in Washington, live on TV as it was happening. Who would ever have thought that was possible?
America got out of the Vietnam war because of the TV coverage. The visual news reporting, and the reporting of the My Lai massacre were instrumental in creating a groundswell movement stateside that forced political change.
I read somewhere recently that democracy is under threat because it requires diligence and effort to maintain democratic ideals, and a lot of people aren’t prepared to put in the effort.
I had a birthday the other day, and as most of you know, I’m no spring chicken. But I started to wonder – has my life been a success?
Now, I must admit I don’t feel entirely comfortable using the past tense here because I’ve still got some gas left in the tank – I hope!
But it made me think – what constitutes success in a life?
If someone has an expensive car and a luxurious house by the harbour, would you say that person is a success?
You probably would, right?
What if they have a massive stock or property portfolio, or a beautiful holiday home by the sea, or a swanky mountain retreat – would you say that person is a success?
Again, you probably would.
Supposing that same person has several failed marriages. And a brood of children that hate his or her guts. And supposing that person got their wealth through greed and deceit. Would you still regard that person a success?
I wouldn’t. Material wealth and possessions aren’t, in my view, an indicator of success.
In the work I do, as a filmmaker and author, success can be marked by awards. But I know plenty of people who have done great work that’s had a major impact on culture and they’ve never won an award.
Good critical reviews for a creative work could be seen to be a marker of success – but again history shows us that what we regard as masterpieces now were often dismissed or even vilified at the time when these works were first released and critiqued.
In the creative industries, if you make a lot of money you’re regarded as being a success.
But what you make, or do, could be ugly and hurtful.
If someone for instance became wealthy by making pornography, would you regard that person a success? Or if they created works that were exploitative or incited hatred or violence – is that a successful life?
For me, morals and ethics hold way more sway than material displays of success.
Did Gandhi achieve success in life? You bet he did. Did Mother Teresa achieve success in life? Damn right she did. They both had bugger all in terms of possessions. But the impact they made on humanity was immeasurable.
We all can’t be Gandhis or Mother Teresas, but in some small way we can put a dent in the Universe, As Steve Jobs put it. We were born to create. That’s what our purpose is, I believe. And every day we create, all of us, in one way or another. What we create, and how we do it, is what defines us.
I was on a podcast recently hosted by an entrepreneur, and he asked me: What would you say has been your greatest success?
My family, I told this podcaster.
That flummoxed him. He didn’t expected me to say that. But I believe it absolutely. Everything else is secondary to that.
For me, success in life is waking up each morning, being able to do what I love doing.