An illustration of a caramel sweet in its wrapper.

Bits Of Caramel

[A YOUNG MAN WALKS DOWN THE AISLE OF A LARGE COMMERCIAL SUPERMARKET. REACHING THE END OF IT, HE STOPS TO LOOK AT THE YOGHURTS IN THE REFRIGERATED SECTION. THERE ARE SO MANY BRANDS TO CHOOSE FROM. HE SCRATCHES HIS CHIN.]

WOMAN: Hello, would you like a caramel?

[THE MAN TURNS AROUND TO SEE YOU A YOUNG WOMAN STANDING AT A SMALL MAKESHIFT COUNTER, SELLING SAMPLES OF CARAMELS IN CELLOPHANE WRAPPERS ON A LARGE PLASTIC PLATTER. SHE IS GORGEOUS AND BEAMS A PERFECT SMILE. IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE ANYONE WOULD EVER REJECT HER.]

MAN [POLITELY]: No thanks.

[THE MAN TURNS BACK TO THE YOGHURT. HE STILL CAN’T MAKE A DECISION.]

WOMAN: They’re free.

MAN: No thanks.

WOMAN: Completely free.

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Do you not feel like a caramel?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Why?

MAN: I don’t want a caramel.

WOMAN: Do you not like caramel?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Go on. Have one. [WHISPERING] You know what, I’ll let you have two. They’re free.

MAN: No.

WOMAN: I promise I won’t tell.

MAN: No, thank you.

WOMAN: Come on, just one little caramel? One itsy-bitsy caramel? They’re really good. Everyone’s been saying how good they are. Really, this is the best caramel ever. I was skeptical at first but then I had one and I was like, this is the best caramel EV-UH! Just try it.

MAN [STILL POLITE]: No. Really. No.

[HE CONCENTRATES HARD ON THE YOGHURTS YET AGAIN.]

WOMAN: Just one though?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Look, I’ve unwrapped one. Looks a bit like fudge doesn’t it? [DOING A SILLY VOICE TO PORTRAY THE CARAMEL] But I’m not fudge. I’m a caramel. I’m the best caramel you’ll ever have. Go on.

MAN [STILL POLITE]: Please, no.

WOMAN: Free samples.

MAN: [FINALLY HE SNAPS, STERN] NO. THANK. YOU.

FADE OUT.

 

FADE IN.

[A POLICEMAN AS WELL AS A RATHER TUBBY OLD MAN WEARING A WHITE SHIRT WITH A NAME TAG SAYING “MANAGER”, STAND NEXT TO THE YOUNG MAN WHO IS NOW SITTING ON THE EDGE OF THE DAIRY SECTION WITH HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS. A FEW CURIOUS SHOPPERS STOP AND STARE.]

POLICEMAN: The young lady is quite upset.

MAN: All I said was I don’t want a caramel.

[THE POLICEMAN TAKES HIS HAT OFF AND SCRATCHES HIS HEAD. HE LOOKS AT THE MANAGER WHO LOOKS BACK AT HIM AND SHAKES HIS HEAD AS IF TO SAY, “SOME PEOPLE”.]

POLICEMAN: Are you aware that the caramel is free?

MAN: I don’t want a caramel.

POLICEMAN: Why?

MAN: I just don’t want a caramel.

POLICEMAN: You don’t like caramel?

MAN: I don’t want one.

POLICEMAN: I’m not following your drift here, mate. Sounds to me like you like caramel. Listen, how about you just take one of the caramels? Be done with it. Obviously the young lady is quite upset. She wants you to take a caramel.

MAN: Am I under arrest?

POLICEMAN: No.

MAN: Then I’m free to go?

[THE POLICEMAN PUTS HIS HANDS ON HIS HIPS. IT SEEMS HE HAS NO INTENTION OF LETTING THE YOUNG MAN GO.

POLICEMAN: What is it about caramel that you don’t like?

MAN: I like caramel.

POLICEMAN: Aha, you’re on a diet.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: Then take a caramel.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: It’s free.

WOMAN: [WAVING HER ARMS EMPATHICALLY] He just refuses to take a caramel! [SHE KNOCKS OVER HER PLATTER OF SAMPLES AND STARTS TO PICK THEM UP, CRYING] I tried. I’m no good at anything. Mother told me I was no good. She was right. All these years she was right! I’m hopeless! I’ll never amount to anything! [PEOPLE STOP TO HELP OUT. A CROWD IS GATHERING.]

POLICEMAN: I have half a mind to call this a public disturbance.

MAN: Please don’t.

POLICEMAN: Take a caramel.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: [SIGHING] Then tell us WHY.

[A BIGGER CROWD HAS NOW GATHERED.]

CROWD MEMBER #1: Go on son, take a caramel.

CROWD MEMBER #2: Come on lad, don’t be difficult.

CROWD MEMBER #3: Take a caramel will ye!

CROWD MEMBER #4: Look what you’ve done to this pretty young girl!

CROWD MEMBER #5: Some people.

CROWD MEMBER #6: The nerve!

POLICEMAN: Look, just take a caramel. Take it home. You don’t have to eat it here. Just take one. You’re causing a scene.

[THE CRYING WOMAN AGAIN LOOKS AT THE MAN HELPLESSLY, WITH THE PLATTER OF CARAMELS BACK IN HER HANDS, AS IF PLEADING FOR HIM TO FINALLY TAKE ONE.]

MAN [FLIPPING OUT]: NO. I WON’T TAKE A SINGLE BLASTED CARAMEL! SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR. IF IT’S NOT CANDY, IT’S THE CONFECTIONARY OF THE MIND, IT’S TELEVISON SOAPS, AND GOSSIP MAGAZINES. I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF IT! YES, I LIKE CARAMEL! I LOVE CARAMEL! I BLOODY LOVE IT! I LOVE IT I DO! I LOVE IT SO MUCH I’D EAT IT ALL DAY. I’D POUR IT ALL OVER MY BITS IF I COULD AND MAKE SWEET LOVE TO IT. BUT I DON’T WANT CARAMEL! I DON’T WANT YOUR STUFF ANYMORE! I DON’T WANT YOUR THINGS CLOGGING UP MY BRAIN AND CLOGGING UP MY LIFE! I’M A MAN! I’M A MAN WITH FEELINGS, WITH AN IDENTITY, WITH A PURPOSE. I’M A MAN WHO REFUSES TO BE DISTRACTED BY YOUR STUFF, STUFF, STUFF! I’M A MAN WHO REFUSES TO BE BOUGHT BY YOUR BRANDS AND YOUR COMMERCE AND YOUR ADVERTISING GIMMICKS, YOUR CUTE LITTLE PICTURES OF COWS ON CHEESES, AND TWO-FOR-ONES, AND OLYMPIC MASCOTS ON CEREAL PACKETS. I WANT TO LIVE FREE OF CORPORATE MANIPULATION! I MEAN, HAVEN’T WE LOST THE WAY? [HE GETS UP ON THE EDGE MILK SECTION TO STAND TALL ABOVE THE NOW MASSIVE CROWD] WHAT HAS THE WORLD REALLY COME TO, WHERE A MAN CANNOT WALK INTO A SUPERMARKET WITHOUT BEING BADGERED ABOUT WHY HE DOESN’T WANT SOMETHING? A CARAMEL! WHEN WILL YOU REALISE THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU LIKE SOMETHING DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO WANT IT. I DON’T NEED CARAMEL AND I DON’T WANT CARAMEL! I WANT TRUTH. I WANT PEACE AND TRANQUILITY AND PEACE OF MIND. I WANT A LOVE OF LIFE AND NOT A MINUTE SPENT FEARING DEATH. I WANT MOMENTS. I WANT BEAUTY. I WANT FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIP AND COMMUNITY. I WANT HEART. I WANT LOVE. I WANT ESSENCE. I WANT SPIRIT. WHAT IS IT ABOUT A MAN’S INTEGRITY THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND? WHY, WHEN A PERSON CREATES SOME SPACE IN HIS LIFE, SOME BREATHING SPACE FOR JUST ONE MOMENT, SOME SPACE TO ACTUALLY BE FREE, DO YOU SEEK TO FILL IT WITH STUFF? NO, LIFE IS MORE THAN SOME TETRIS GAME AND I AM MORE THAN THE SUM OF MY BITS. TASTY CARAMEL OR NOT. I DON’T WANT YOUR CARAMELS. I REJECT YOUR CARAMELS! I WILL LIVE A LIFE WITHOUT YOUR CARAMELS. FREE FROM THE TYRANNY OF CONFECTIONARY AND MASS CONSUMPTION. HERE AND NOW I MAKE A STAND! WHO’S WITH ME?! BREAK FREE! BREAK FREE ALL YOU WHO SEE SOME SENSE IN MY WORDS! LEAVE THIS CULT OF STUFF WHILE YOU CAN! AND WE WILL START A NEW WORLD WHERE WE WILL LOVE AND RESPECT ONE ANOTHER! A NEW WORLD WHERE WE WILL FINALLY BE WHOLE AGAIN! ELSE LET ME BE. AND I SHALL WALK THIS LONELY PATH ALONE.

POLICEMAN: Alright, alright, no need to get emotional.

[THE CROWD SLOWLY DISPERSES.]

CROWD MEMBER #3: You’d pour caramel over your bits mate?

CROWD MEMBER #4: What a wanker.

[DEJECTED, THE MAN JUMPS OFF THE DAIRY SECTION AND PICKS UP A STRAY CARAMEL THAT WAS NOT PICKED UP FROM BEFORE. IT’S THE ONE THE YOUNG WOMAN UNWRAPPED. HE PUTS IT IN HIS MOUTH. HE RAISES AN EYEBROW. IT SEEMS IT’S PRETTY GOOD AFTER ALL.

WOMAN [DISDAIN]: Gross.

THE END.

An illustration of a typewriter.

Writer’s frenzy – meet the evil cousin of writer’s block

If I’m not a Bohemian I don’t know who is. Not only am I a playwright, but I spent several years living in the capital of Bohemia, Prague. I live and breathe my art, and anyone who knows me well will attest to me being a little socially unconventional at times. I don’t drive a car, I put my faith in philosophy not religion (unheard of right?), I often wake up in the middle of the night with crazy ideas for flash mobs with helium balloons and board games made of felt, and I’ve pretty much dabbled in every artistic medium there is.

True to the Bohemian stereotype though, especially in the years I lived in Czechia, I also spent a lot of time feeling miserable. I know, I know. Creating art isn’t always passion and bonfires. I get that. Totally. Creating art is sometimes suffering. And I get too, that some people might say, “Stu, you lived in Prague, the city of a thousand spires, are you really going to tell me you were unhappy?” You’re right. I wasn’t unhappy all the time. There were times, especially when I was working on my plays, or backpacking across Europe, and making friends and catching up with friends, when I was ridiculously happy. I’m a pretty optimistic person by nature, and my time overseas was absolutely amazing. But inevitably, even in a city so rich with culture and art, and living my dream, I still sank at times into depression. There were times when I felt like I was flying. I wasn’t just riding a magic carpet, I was the magic carpet, capable of doing anything and going anywhere, but there were also times when I felt myself unravelling at the seams at full speed, my creatives threads tangled around a thousand different things and places at once. I still fell apart, and I think a lot of that has to do with writing too much.

I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. Really. Never. I always find that faced with a blank page I can always write something. Whether that something is drivel or a masterpiece is another matter, but I can always write. Yet, there is another side to that coin. It’s writing too much. It’s sacrificing your health for the sake of your craft. It’s jeopardising the happiness you might have now for the misguided hope of finding more happiness in the future.

That’s like a fishermen throwing back his freshly-caught fish in the hope of catching a marlin. It doesn’t make sense.

Here’s what I’ve learnt: there is a difference between suffering within the creative process as part of your artistic journey and suffering outside of that creative process and using your artistic path as an excuse to feel miserable.

Unfortunately, lacking balance between work and personal life has consequences. For years I’ve neglected my back, sitting at my desk for hours on end at times and not getting up to stretch my arms and legs, and failing to even rest my eyes. There was a time when I drank like a fish (hey, I lived in Prague, the beer there is like some kind of golden nectar made by the gods, it’s 2AUD for a pint, could I be blamed?) I ate deep fried cheese for lunch and those freezer pizzas that taste like cardboard for dinner (washed down with another pint of beer of course). I’m lucky to have the metabolism of a gazelle so luckily, none of it really showed. Still, my gut suffered the onslaught.

Picture me in Prague, sitting in a dingy smoke-filled pub, a pint in each hand (yes, a pint in each hand) a joint in each hand (yes, a joint in each hand), jumping on tables (yes, actually jumping on tables), and kissing pretty girls in pretty beer gardens. It was a lot of fun. But there were also nights when I punched holes in walls, and wandered through the streets at 3AM so blind drunk I only know where I got to not how I got there, and sat in cliched piles of scrunched up papers while the world and the universe beckoned me outside to play. To me, Prague was the Wild West. I could do things in Prague that I couldn’t do in Australia, because I could be free to be another me, free from the baggage of family and past habits. I could be reckless in my personal life and my career.

In many ways, I’m glad I was reckless. There is a time to be reckless in life and through recklessness we often learn great life lessons. More often though, I neglected my social and love life for my other lover, my novel. My friends were often in awe of me, and told me so. Not so much for how many pints I knocked back but because I was so industrious. When I told them I felt like a hamster in a wheel, working on my novel for hours on end each day, my friends clapped their hands and told me “nonsense”, I was living the dream, I was doing something they weren’t. I have the metabolism of a gazelle remember? I looked good. I looked healthy. And I was “going for it”. I was doing the “right thing”. I certainly wasn’t suffering from writer’s block.

No. Of course I wasn’t. I was seduced by something else – the evil cousin of writer’s block, that more discrete, more consuming, more addictive muse who gets you up at 2AM to write poems and philosophical essays for her, who gets jealous of you meeting your friends even for just one beer, who tells you she wants you to love her and only her. She is dangerous. Like some kind of deranged junky, she doesn’t care that your fridge is bare, she doesn’t care that you’re tired or dissatisfied, she only cares that she has you and you have her. In your veins. She is the tenth muse never spoken of, the black sheep of the gods, and the most dangerous muse you’re ever likely to meet – she is what I call “writer’s frenzy”. You might call her creative obsession, or the patron saint of “workaholicism”.

Writer’s frenzy isn’t something many people talk about. I doubt you’ll find it any “how to” writing ebooks. Actually, I’m pretty sure I made the term up. Indeed, some writer’s have never had it (whether that’s good fortune or not, I’ll let you decide). So let me further explain. Writer’s frenzy is the opposite of writer’s block. It’s writing for the sake of writing. It’s spinning the wheels on the bicycle when you’re already losing control down the mountain and the pedals are only turning air. To some degree, writer’s frenzy is great. We should all write a Jerry McGuire manifesto at least once in our lives. I’m sure writer’s frenzy is what a lot of writers might even strive for. But what’s that old saying? Too much of a good thing is sometimes not such a good thing.

Writer’s frenzy is not flow. Though it might start off as flow, it’s not destined to be a zen state. It’s mania. It’s the other extreme edge of the seesaw. Writer’s frenzy doesn’t just make Jerry McGuire write a manifesto one night, she makes him write one every night. It’s not healthy, and though it often disguises itself as intense productivity connecting you with the world and your passion, writer’s frenzy can lead us to misery and disconnection. And this doesn’t just apply to writers or even just artists. We all write our lives in this world whether we are merchant bankers or circus clowns. Writer’s frenzy keeps us toiling away only as a means of ignoring our real world problems. It comes down to this: are you using your work as an excuse to alienate yourself from the world?

I know I’m guilty of doing just that, especially in the years I lived in Bohemia. Sure, I’ve had success. I wrote four sell-out theatre plays in Prague and loved every minute of the journey. But I also at times disconnected myself from the world. Whether I was washing away my inner problems with beer and unhealthy habits, or spinning the wheels of my novel for the sake of spinning the wheels, I spent a lot of time running away. From a lot of things actually, maybe even success. It was probably a good thing to not always have two pints and two joints in hand. But sometimes the writing has to wait because health should never be sacrificed. Everything must be in balance.

The tenth muse must be put in her place.

Lately, I’ve been taking care of myself again. I refuse to be a struggling, miserable artist drowning my sorrows like any another stereotypical “Bohemian” artist. Because I’ve decided that no longer will art be my heroin. No. Art will be my heroine.

I’ve bought a back brace for my back. I’m doing yoga in the mornings. I’m drinking chamomile tea instead of endless coffee. I’m teaching myself to get up early again (I’m pushing for 5AM). I’m being a healthy writer. I’m going to be a happy artist. I can still be a Bohemian, I just choose to be a Bohemian who lives life to the fullest wherever I am.

The important thing is to be healthy, because by being healthy you can walk the creative path for longer and eventually, who knows, you might even realise where it is you’re really heading to.

 

Wanna join me? …


 


An illustration of a bowl of gruel.

MOOOORE?

[ORPHANAGE EATING AREA. COLD, STERILE, NO LOVE HERE. OLIVER TWIST TIMIDLY WALKS UP TO A BIG, FAT, GRUMPY OLD MAN AT THE END OF THE ROOM STANDING OVER A BIG POT OF GRUEL.]

OLIVER TWIST [HOLDING OUT HIS EMPTY BOWL]: Please sir, can I have some more?

CHEF [BOOMING VOICE]: MOOOORE?

OLIVER TWIST: Nah, seriously though.

[THE CHEF LOOKS OLIVER TWIST UP AND DOWN AGAIN.]

CHEF: Alright then.

[THE CHEF LADLES OUT ANOTHER PORTION OF GRUEL INTO OLIVER TWIST’S BOWL.]

THE END.

An illustration of Mr. Rivuci.

What you don’t know …

[An INTERVIEWER and his crew trudge allow a narrow rocky path etched into the cliffside of a remote coast. A small shack overlooking the sea can be seen ahead of them. Two cameramen carefully keep their cameras on the interviewer, working the angles, while the boom operator, struggles to contend with the fierce wind all the while struggling to keep from tripping over. A fifth member of the crew, the TRANSLATOR, the spitting image of Sophia Loren, walks behind them.]

INTERVIEWER: So, we are here on the remote coast of Newfoundland today to talk to a mysterious man named Carlo Rivuci. Mr. Rivuci, an orphan, six decades ago was diagnosed with not only crippling polio, but syphilis, and gangrene. It seems Mr. Rivuci lived a rather colourful life. According to locals however, he feels no pain and has never exhibited a single symptom of either one of his afflictions. Indeed, the locals attest that he seems to lead a completely normal life, not that they are are able to converse with him mind you. Whether he followed his doctor’s advice and prescriptions in the first place remains unclear. At the ripe old age of eighty-eight, still unable to speak a word of English, he lives a mostly hermetic life in his small shack overlooking the sea. We have brought along our translator so that we may be able to talk to Mr. Rivuci today and hopefully begin to understand his secrets.

[Mr. Rivuci, seeing the camera crew outside, opens his little shack. He is dressed in overalls, and wears a messenger cap and wide-rimmed oval spectacles. He is a kind, healthy-looking man, sporting a large thick moustache. He has the light, supple, yet wrinkled body of a man who has worked the land all his life. He smiles to the cameras and beckons everyone in.]

RIVUCI: Buongiorno! Benvenuto! Pranzo?

[Inside, Mr. Rivuci sits down at his small dining table, and bids everyone else to sit. He is beaming, a picture of health. It seems he lives quite a stoic existence in his little shack, dried fish hang from the rafters, fresh bread and vegetables and fruit laid out across the table, a little pot belly stove blazing. Mr. Rivuci strokes his large moustache, looking back and forth between the two cameras. It seems he is enjoying the attention.]

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Rivuci, can you tell us how you do it? How have you survived all these years? And yet, you feel no pain, nor suffer any physical defect? Polio, syphilis, AND gangrene! Did you recover? Does it not hurt?

RIVUCI [FROWNING]: Non capisco.

TRANSLATOR [TO THE INTERVIEWER]: Eh?

INTERVIEWER [TO THE TRANSLATOR]: You don’t have to do it with the accent. [HE TURNS TO MR. RIVUCI.] Mr. Rivuci, how have you survived so long?

TRANSLATOR [TO RIVUCI]: Come hai sopravvissuto?

[Mr. Rivuci simply looks at them all, bemused.]

RIVUCI: Ho solo ottantotto anni.

TRANSLATOR [TO THE INTERVIEWER]: He say he only eighty-eight.

INTERVIEWER [TO RIVUCI]: How have you survived with polio, syphilis, and gangrene?

RIVUCI: Polio? Sifilide? Cancrena?

TRANSLATOR: Sì! Polio? Syphilis? Gangrene?

INTERVIEWER: Polio. Syphilis. Gangrene.

RIVUCI: Non ho capito bene.

TRANSLATOR [TO THE INTERVIEWER, EVEN MORE FLAMBOYANT THAN BEFORE]: Why you a bring dis up a with a me, eh?

INTERVIEWER [TO RIVUCI]: Polio is an infectious disease. It can make people crippled. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. Surely you’ve heard of it? Gangrene is when your body tissue dies. Horrible, horrible stuff. It’s devastatingly painful. We can’t believe you’ve survived so long with all three.

TRANSLATOR [TO RIVUCI]: Sono malattie. È doloroso. [TO THE INTERVIEWER] I’m telling him it’s very painful.

RIVUCI [STROKING HIS BEARD, FROWNING]: Sì.

TRANSLATOR [TO RIVUCI]: Hai polio, syphilis, gangrene.

RIVUCI [STILL STROKING HIS BEARD, HE SMILES]: Sì, capisco. [IN A MOMENT MR. RIVUCI’S EXPRESSION CHANGES TO A LOOK OF FEAR. HE GRIPS HIS THIGH IN PAIN AND FALLS OFF HIS CHAIR] OW! OW! OOOOWWWWWW!!!

[The cameramen and boom operator scramble for a good shot as Mr. Rivuci rolls around on the floor, screaming at the top of his lungs.]

RIVUCI: IL DOLORE! IL DOLORE!

TRANSLATOR: IT HURTS! IT HURTS!

[THE END.]

Illustration of a light switch.

How To Turn Yourself On

For some time now I’ve been working on turning things off in my life. I’ve turned off junk food, turned off my phone, I even threw my television out the window. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, I’m not Led Zeppelin … To be more exact, I’ve turned off all the advertising I possibly can. Because it’s all sugar isn’t it? Candy for the mind. These things we often consume without realising we consume them, or that we have the option to turn these things off. But believe me – yes, you can delete Facebook off your phone and you will survive. Yes, you can cut sugar from your life and actually feel better. Yes, you can turn the television off and you won’t really miss anything. Nothing major anyway. In my case, I haven’t just stopped at turning the “candy” off, I’ve turned off the slimy yucky bitter things too that sometimes, like young kids chewing on garden snails, we consume inadvertently out of sheer boredom, just because they’re “there” … negative news, toxic people, gossip. I’ve worked diligently on shutting out all those slugs from my life. And I’m proud of myself. It’s taken a long time to break my addiction to this mental fairy floss, and yet, for some time I’ve been naive in thinking that turning all of these things off will automatically lead to productivity.

It doesn’t quite work like that.

Well, actually it does. But it also doesn’t. There is no magical rule, that says turning off distraction will lead to productivity. Productivity isn’t the exact opposite of distraction is it? Attention is. It’s what you do with that attention that will make you productive. Turning things off is half the battle. The next phase is turning things on. I now realise that if you’re really going to achieve what you want to achieve in life, you have to know yourself. Turning off the television, cutting out the mental fairy floss will get you time, space, and maybe some quiet. The question is, what do you do with that time, space, and quiet once you’ve got it? I don’t want to be a struggling, miserable, starving artist burning my manuscripts in the fireplace just to keep warm. I want to step out into the world like a juggernaut. I want to roll down streets and take life on. On. That’s the operative word here.

How do you turn yourself on?

No, no, no. Not like that. I mean, how do you turn on your passions, your personality, your purpose? I’m pretty sure I know these things in myself. My passion is writing theatre and comedy, my personality … well, I’m still working on it, and my purpose? I’m starting to realise my purpose is not only to make people laugh but to make people think, about philosophy, about the world we live, and to perhaps help others along this ever-twisting path to a meaningful happy life.

I’m now starting to realise that all the goods things in life that we want: productivity, motivation, happiness, enlightenment are all switches. All too often though, we can fall into the trap though of thinking that if we can just get the magic recipe right in our lives we might be able to flip one or more of those switches for good, that if we cover them with enough araldite the lights will just keep on shining. That’s how Buddha reached nirvana, right? Not quite. The problem is, no matter how much superglue you cover those switches in, they will always find a way to turn back off, because that’s life. It surges backwards and forwards, up and down, like an endless Kanagawa wave. Somedays you feel enlightened, somedays you feel miserable. Nothing is infinitely solid. Instead, everything is infinitely changing. And that’s the way it should be because if things didn’t move up and down we couldn’t surf the waves. Instead of glueing the switches, what we really need to focus on is what makes us want to turn on the light in the first place, that bigger, more elusive invisible switch within ourselves that says “Yes!” The fuse box. The more productive people are just betting at getting back up when the lights cut out and flicking that fuse on again. Sometimes it’s only when we turn all the switches off – the on button on the television, the on button on your computer, the Facebook button on your phone – that we can start to question if these things are really turning us on at all, and to see in the dark what really motivates us and what we truly want to spend our time doing.

What turns you off?

What turns you on?

An illustration of a civet.

You Musk Try It!

[A well-dressed man walks into a large department store. He looks a little lost. A shop attendant approaches him with a beaming smile.]

Woman: Hello, how may I help you today?

[The man checks a list of paper in his hand.]

Man: I’m looking for … rotten whale vomit, the fossilised urine of a prairie dog, the anal excretions of a tropical cat, and preferably some prehistoric tree tears please.

Woman: I have just the thing! [She sprays a a little perfume bottle at the man but gets him right in the eyes.] How’s that?

Man [blinded, fumbling]: Coffee?

Woman: I’ve only just met you.

[The man takes a good sniff of a jar of coffee beans.]

Man: I dare say, it smells a little … mossy.

Woman: I’ll make a note of it.

THE END.
Illustration of a woman floating across the sky like a cloud.

On Cloud Nineteen

[Two fluffy white clouds are laying on their backs atop a hill, arms behind their heads, looking up at the clear blue sky. One cloud chews on a long piece of wheat while the other suddenly points upwards.]
CLOUD 1: Hey, that cloud looks like a …
[Cloud 2 squints. Slowly, a human woman suspended in the air far above them slowly drifts across the face of the sky, arms and legs spread out, otherwise completely motionless.]
CLOUD 1: … rabbit.
CLOUD 2: I’m not seeing it.
THE END.
Illustration of a shrub.

Shrub It Off

A woman, wearing overalls and a sun hat, hacks away at a large bushy shrub in her front yard in the midday sunshine, with a large pair of shears and an ever bigger smile on her face. The camera should ever so gradually zoom in on the shrub.

SHRUB [VOICEOVER]: That’s it, a little bit to the left. The pain feels so good. Yes! Yes! There! Right there. That’s soooooo hot. Yes! Cut me! Make me feel it! I wanna FEEL it! Yeah! Cut me more. Deeper! Harder! I like it when you cut me. Let me feel the sunshine on my bare trunk! Oh yeah! Who’s your naughty boy? Who wants the gardener when you can have the garden, right? Yeah, I’m standing out here in the hot sun all day. I know you see me. I’ve seen you looking at me through the open window. Take me! Take me further! Now Mrs. Mortensen! The time is now! You, me! Yes, yes, yes … YES! [The shrub is looking a little worse for wear now, perhaps the woman has gotten a bit carried away. Alas, the camera continues to gradually zoom in on the shrub, while we will continue to hear the mad clicking of the shears.] Brrrr … You know what, it’s getting kinda breezy. You feel that? Maybe a cold change is coming through. Might rain later. Actually, can we pause for a second? Linda? No, seriously. It’s freaking cold. Can you? Please? Do you hear me? Linda? Linda! LINDA! You’re taking it too far lady! God, what are you doing? Are you out of your mind! Look at me! I’m gonna have nothing left! You trying to kill me? Capsicum! CAPSICUM! Cucumber? Oh God, what did we agree the safe word would be? Pickle! Gherkin? Can you even hear me? Linda? LINDA? [Audibly sobbing] Please … stop … LINDA!

THE END.
Illustration of Prince Charles.

Prince Charles considers plastic surgery

[Prince Charles sits patiently in a chair beside a doctor’s desk as the doctor sitting on a swivel chair with wheels shines a torch down his left ear, then spins around to check out the right.]

DOCTOR: Well, I must say, your ears are outstanding.
PRINCE CHARLES: Why, thank you!
DOCTOR: Out standing from your head.
PRINCE CHARLES: Oh.
DOCTOR: We can pin the ears back here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and yes ... [The doctor spins around the back of Prince Charles] … here.
PRINCE CHARLES: Well, they tell me you’re the best otoplasty surgeon in the world. I have complete confidence in your abilities. Now, this might sound like a rather stupid question, but will it affect my hearing?
DOCTOR: No more than your sense of balance.
PRINCE CHARLES: But I can hear perfectly fine, even standing on one leg.
DOCTOR [Back beside Prince Charles now]: Ah, no. Common misconception that. Our ears actually help us to balance. [He picks up a small anatomical learning device of the inner ear] You see, in the inner ear, there are three small loops above the cochlea called semicircular canals. Like the cochlea, they are also filled with liquid and have thousands of microscopic hairs. It is this system that tells us whether we have our feet firmly on the ground. Upset these hairs or the liquid and you start to feel nauseous.
PRINCE CHARLES: I thought you were simply folding them back?
DOCTOR: Couldn’t you carry around a long pole?
PRINCE CHARLES: For navigating high-wires?
DOCTOR: For hitting people over the head who make fun of your ears?
PRINCE CHARLES [A REVELATION]: Indeed.

[THE END.]
An illustration of an origami crane.

How To Stop Kim

[A North Korean military officer marches down a long bright sterile-looking hallway, flanked by two lieutenants. They stop and come to ease at the open doorway of a small mostly bare room with only a small desk and a closet along one wall, to see Kim-Jong-Un sitting on the ground, amidst a pile of bright squares of paper and folded origami cranes, folding yet another to add to it. The officer takes a step into the room, followed by his two lieutenants.]

OFFICER: Supreme Commander, we are ready for the next nuclear test.
KIM JONG-UN [NOT LOOKING UP]: I’ve decided to make origami today.
OFFICER: Young master, everything is going to plan. We have the U.S. reeling. Today is the scheduled day.
KIM JONG-UN [SIGHS]: I don’t know. I’m just … bored, I guess.
OFFICER: But, when shall we launch the new ICBM?
KIM JONG-UN: Sometime soon, I guess. Maybe not, ever?
OFFICER: Great comrade, are you okay? You haven’t been reading the international press have you? You must pay no attention to them. Your people love you. Dennis Rodman loves you. We are ready for phase two.

[NO REPLY.]

OFFICER: You seemed so excited about the ICBM just yesterday?
KIM JONG-UN [STILL NOT LOOKING UP, CONCENTRATING HARD ON THE CRANE]: I’m fine. I’ve just changed my mind is all. Something has come up. Look, I just need to make these cranes, alright?
OFFICER: [TENTATIVELY] Why?
KIM JONG-UN [HE FINALLY LOOKS UP. HIS FACE IS AS BRIGHT RED AS HIS FINGERS. IT ALMOST SEEMS HE’S BEEN CRYING]: Because the supreme commander commands it! I want to make origami cranes today, not launch a nuclear missile, alright? I just don’t feel like it!
OFFICER [TAKING OFF HIS HAT, SWEATING]: Of course, your excellency. You are perfect, you are our beloved master, supreme wise person, our brilliant leader! The nuclear test shall be delayed, your excellency. We would never question your decisions, your excellency.

[NO REPLY. THE OFFICER LOOKS TO HIS TWO LIEUTENANTS WHO LOOK BACK AT HIM HELPLESSLY. HE PUTS HIS HAT BACK ON. TOGETHER THEY BACK OUT OF THE ROOM, PERFORM A SYNCHRONISED TURN, AND MARCH BACK DOWN THE LONG STERILE-LOOKING HALLWAY OUT OF SIGHT.]

[Back in the room, the closet door opens and the ghost of a young Japanese girl, the spitting image of Sadako Sasaki to be exact, steps out of the closet, with a pistol held at Kim Jong-Un, a wave of origami cranes spilling out onto the ground at her feet.]

SASAKI: Good, six hundred and sixty-four … Only three hundred and thirty-six to go. And then we’re going to watch a nice little documentary about Hiroshima, aren’t we?

[STILL NO ANSWER]

SASAKI: Aren’t we?
KIM JONG-UN [SNIFFLING, LOOKING UP]: Yes. Yes, we are.
[SASAKI GESTURES THE GUN AS IF THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.]
KIM JONG-UN [EYES CAST DOWN]: Please?

[SASAKI GESTURES THE GUN AGAIN.]

KIM JONG-UN: Your loveliness?
SASAKI [SMILING]: That’s a good little Kimmy.

[KIM JONG-UN BREAKS INTO TEARS.]

[THE END.]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadako_Sasaki