How a single broken key changed the course of my day, unexpectedly guiding me to a series of important life lessons.

Earlier this week, on Monday morning in fact, I left home to run a quick errand. I jumped into some workout sweats, did what I needed to do, and when I arrived back home, turned the key in the door to the main entrance of the house in no unusual way. Click. Nothing happens. That dreaded moment when the key just turns and turns to no end, and you realise that that tip has broken off in the lock.

I work from home, you see, so with it being around 10am, I still had a full day of work ahead of me, and my mind quickly raced to my laptop, which was locked inside of course. I messaged my housemate, asking her if any of the neighbours had a spare (not the case) and if she would be able to come home to let me in from the other side of the house. A no go too, considering she had just stepped into a sales meeting at the office, which had a tendency to last up to five hours in a busy week. The meeting had only just started. Yikes.

Taking a few deep breaths, and pausing for a moment, I realized I had my car keys with me at least, and with my brain starting to return to a normal state of rational decision making, I offered to fetch the spare key from her, as soon as she got out of the meeting. Knowing it could be five hours, but hoping it wouldn’t be, I decided to drive to her office building, which is conveniently located next to a series of restaurants and shops (something I wasn’t aware of, as I hadn’t been there before). I figured I would sit calmly at a coffee shop, waiting it out, while handling some “life admin”, like calling mom, getting back to friends who had reached out, updating the apps on my phone and generally not worrying myself too much about this, as I had absolutely no control over it happening.

As I went about trying to find a coffee shop, to my surprise I stumbled onto a bookstore, hosting a “September Sale” in fact. They had a series of books available at 50% off, which is enough to grab the attention of any bookworm like myself. The thing is, I’ve just returned from a three month stay in Brazil, you see, so cash isn’t exactly overflowing, so naturally my eyes were immediately drawn to one of two ‘bargain bins’ (or goldmines, depending on how you look at it) outside the entrance. On top of the pile of books in the bin to the left, a friendly face was staring back at me, namely, that of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Art of Happiness, the 20th anniversary edition of his book with Howard Cutler, in fact, was being sold for R30 (around $2 USD) and I didn’t even hesitate to read the back cover, I just knew, for whatever reason, that I had to read it. While I was in Brazil, I had read his collaborative book with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (The Book of Joy), and I fell in love with their conversation, which was essentially a lesson in tolerance between those of different beliefs and spiritual paths. I’ve been curious to learn more ever since, but hadn’t quite known where to turn to find the correct piece of literature. After paying for the book and plopping myself down at the nearest coffee shop I eventually managed to find, I paged through the first chapter, realizing instantly that I was going to thoroughly enjoy it, in particular as it is a narrative between two key areas of interest for me: psychiatry and spirituality.

When I eventually got the spare keys from my housemate, earlier than anticipated I might add, I couldn’t get the book out of my mind, but had work responsibilities to tend to first of course. That night however, I ended up reading half of the book(!), finishing it no later than the following evening, while feeling slightly overwhelmed, joyful and just generally filled with so many new ideas on life. When a book is good, it’s good, and you can’t seem to put it down, and clearly this was the case. I found myself relentlessly scribbling notes and marking pages I felt were of value to where I’m at on the journey of life, and frankly, on my spiritual journey as well. While it contained many thoughts, lessons and ideas, I ended up making sixteen “dog ears” (folded corners) in the book, highlighting key paragraphs that I found fascinating, and wanted to write about and remind myself of. I really want to share those learnings with you, as perhaps it will also have some relevance to where you, or someone you know, is currently at in their lives. So here we are!

While many of the ideas in the book apply to the Buddhist tradition, what I love about the Dalai Lama, is that he also presents them in a way that makes sense to non-Buddhists, often answering these specific questions and addressing conventional scientific thought directly, as her shares his views. He does so flawlessly, without undermining other beliefs in any way – a delicate dance, if you ask me, but one he does very well nevertheless.

Here are the key takeaways I had from the delicate dance, which you will hopefully be able to connect with in some way too:

  1. Cultivate the things that bring you happiness, and eliminate the things that bring you suffering.
  2. A challenge is an opportunity. Dealing with someone you don’t get a long with, is an opportunity to practice patience and tolerance.
  3. Training the mind involves studying, learning, contemplation & meditation.
  4. Detail and try to understand your contribution to any problem you may have.
  5. We are all part of the community of humanity, which is 7.7 billion people big.
  6. The seed of compassion takes time to grow.
  7. The universe will guide and show you along the way. Breathe.
  8. Intimacy implies more than just relationship intimacy (or “the one”). It comes in many shapes and forms.
  9. It is unwise to attribute your behaviour and suffering to only this life.
  10. Explore the causal activities behind your suffering, as well as those behind your happiness.
  11. Training the mind, contrary to the narrow view of it being purely IQ related, also involves taking into account your intellect, heart and your feelings.
  12. Happy people are sociable, flexible, creative, and can better tolerate life’s frustrations.
  13. There is a sort of “mental unrest” in materialistic people.
  14. We should place more emphasis on how we respond in any situation, which can make a major difference to the outcome.
  15. A spiritual journey is not about self interest and showing off enlightenment.
  16. We should all be encouraging and promoting a spirit of exchange in every room that we find ourselves in.

As I’m writing this, I’m still astonished by the fact that something as simple as a single broken key (or a minor, irritating day-to-day occurrence) has the power to guide your day in a new direction, and in fact, lead you to something that you may never have crossed paths with in the first place. By taking a step back, and not getting overly worked up by the broken key, I managed to enjoy a totally unexpected experience with a leaning towards personal development, which not only helped me continue the personal work I’m doing around improving my general emotional maturity, but also doing so in a way that wasn’t forceful or in any way attempting to sway the way I view the world. It was a natural progression.

What’s changed for me since, is that I’ve adopted a new view towards letting each experience, bad or good, guide me in the direction I’m meant to go on as part of the journey of life, rather than getting engulfed or overwhelmed with emotion, or even falling into the “why is this happening to me” trap each time. I still wonder, and have done so late at night this week, just how often these kinds of things are happening to us, but we’re simply not paying enough attention to embrace it as part of the human experience. An experience, I might add, that we have pretty much no control over, and should be tackling a single day at a time.

– Shared in the spirit of exchange.

What if we decided to turn the traditional definition of success on its head?

Yesterday, I had a very interesting conversation about the traditional definition of success. The person I was talking to very cleverly referenced the Harry Potter houses to illustrate the different definitions of success they see in the world today. Kudos to them for grabbing my attention using a HP reference!

  • Ravenclaw: Knowledge & Intellect
  • Slytherin: Power & Wealth
  • Gryffindor: Bravery & Recognition
  • Hufflepuff: Kindness & Modesty

Seems about right. But let’s back up just a little bit first.

What got me thinking about my definition of success in the first place, was a comment from my therapist: “when you achieve what your definition of success is again…” (I heard the undertone there, my definition of success, which clearly is a skewed one). She’s known me 10 years, so she must have a good idea about how hard I can be on myself. I have to take her comments on the chin, because I not only respect her opinion greatly, but, even when I disagree, she’s usually right.

Traditionally, a lot of us have been raised to believe that success is based on the Slytherin and Gryffindor mentalities. How much power and influence do you have? How wealthy are you? What is your job title? How famous are you? How many followers do you have? These are all outward indicators where your success is dependent on external factors. An ego driven mentality, in fact.

I’m not here to bullshit you and claim that these have never influenced my decisions: career or otherwise. These are all things that have been important to me in the past. It’s inherent really, when you’re raised in a household of high achievers and you also like to set very unrealistic goals and expectations of yourself. But what if I made an active decision to change my definition of success? What if we decided that we wanted to turn the traditional definition of success on its head?

I’ve always thought of success as something static or ‘black and white’: you either have it, or you don’t, there’s no in-between. I’ve had a very interesting career so far, with high profile jobs, big projects and earning many awards along the way. But have I ever felt successful? No.

I’ve never felt like I was earning enough, or being recognized enough, even when accepting awards for my work. Ridiculous yes, but even recently when I finished a short story for a competition, it didn’t take me more than 5 minutes to then turn my focus to the next competition. I didn’t enjoy the moment, enjoy the success of completing something. I was on autopilot, because it “isn’t about getting it done, it’s about getting recognized for it”. What a load a BS!

As you can probably tell, this topic is something I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about in recent weeks, and it’s something that I’m trying to address so I can approach life with a different view of what success means to me, especially as I get more settled into my thirties. I began by asking myself what I would do if I had one week to live. Literally, if I found out I would be dead next week this time, how would I spend my week? The answer gave me a sense of what is important to me, and what I would want to do to be considered a worthwhile contributor to society and the world as a whole. While I may delve into those specifics at a later date, I wanted to share what I have subsequently set out as new areas of “success” for myself. Perhaps this encourages you to do the same, and take on the same challenge of defining what success is to you at this stage.

At 31, success to me is:

  • Expanding my general knowledge.
  • Contributing to the success of others. Being a part of the journey of others (in a non-public facing way). I’ve always drawn a lot of strength from this.
  • Learning more about human psychology. I did a semester of psychology after university and I’d like to explore further studies in this field in future.
  • Safety in my relationships: friendships, family and in my heart partnership. Consistency too.
  • Focus. One of the hardest things for a self employed person to do!
  • Travelling to learn and gain perspective, not for recreational purposes.
  • Practicing my writing, specifically prose. Learning more about how to improve my writing. Writing to contribute, not simply for money or recognition. Putting other creative projects on hold to grow in this area.
  • The amount of time in my day that I’m free to do what I want with my time. This includes committing to the entrepreneurial and writer’s journey, regardless of external recognition or opportunities that may come from it. This one is very important. Essentially, I feel successful if I can choose what I do with my 24 hours. That doesn’t mean I get to be a lazy sack of potatoes on a beach all day. It means having the freedom to decide what I do with my time, which 99% of the population does not have the luxury of doing.

Looking at these, I now have a clearer set of parameters and goals to work towards for a renewed interpretation of success, rather than continuing to focus on the traditional view (and making myself unnecessarily unhappy). Frankly, looking at this means that I’m pretty damn successful already! Let’s call a spade a spade. I am doing these things to the best of my ability, so I should pat myself on the back for that.

Perhaps, the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff approaches are not as lame as they’ve been made out to be by others (well, myself included). I’m thankful for a bit of clarity around the matter. I’m sure my definition of success will keep changing as my goals adapt and adjust; this is something that many people I have spoken to over the years have echoed and I believe it to be true. Let’s see how this goes for a little while, and try not to get too far ahead of ourselves (and the rest of our day today).

– Conrad was here.

Which of your needs are being met by the creative projects you take on?

I’m starting to think about this question a lot. Like, losing sleep a lot.

Over the last few months, I’ve embarked on a creative journey involving publishing my first anthology of poems, entering my first short story competition, writing more regular pieces for the website, starting a podcast and generally focusing on my creative expression. But why? Not why as in “what do you want to get out of it”, but rather why do you do it, or “what needs of yours are being met by the creative projects you take on”?

Many people find reassurance for or stimulation from personal projects through the very notion that they are creating something, they are learning something (about themselves and others), they are embarking on a process of introspection, or even just that it is helping them to develop their craft (“cultivate your competencies”, as I’ve said before). This seems rational and a logical explanation, that seems to have slipped my mind over the last few weeks.

Lately, I’ve felt a little lost with the intention behind my creativity, and feel like it is a good time to take stock of the needs being met by these projects, rather than continuing to do them for something as meager as validation, or attention, which are easy to be consumed by. It’s very easy to create something with the intention for it to be consumed, with the idea that it will bring you some kind of personal validation, but quite frankly, this can be rather hollow and meaningless, if you’re not sure about why you’re creating something to begin with. I don’t want my creativity to feel like “high churn”, I don’t want it to feel like something I have to do on a specific timeline. I’d like to create and express myself with fluidity and as we go.

I wish I had a more concrete answer to the question I am posing for you today, but I will be taking some time to reflect and write, intending to draw some new conclusions about this. All I know, is that there was very little celebration around me completing a short story for an international competition, something which, in anyone’s books, would be an achievement itself. I’m very proud of the story and proud of myself for doing so, but I didn’t stop for one second to acknowledge this and I’m not happy about that. I’ll be thinking about this, and will circle back to this topic on the blog or podcast in the coming weeks.

– Conrad was here.

What if you left all your assumptions about other people at the door each day?

I woke up with a peculiar thought yesterday morning, after dreaming about being at an event with my parents, where they were supporting my sister for something which, well, took place sixteen years ago.

In the dream, I kept mistakenly repeating “it’s been ten years!” (clearly I wasn’t doing the math correctly or I was younger in the dream) and not feeling like I was being heard; perhaps indicative of being in Brazil and so far away from friends and family at the moment.

That aside, if you’ll believe it, I woke up feeling jealous, agitated and slightly annoyed. With who? My sister, of course! How dare she get all that recognition, and in an entire dream? I mean, how dare she infiltrate my dream in the first place, and leave me in a foul mood right at the start of the day?

Ridiculous, right? I can laugh now, but it’s incredible how our subconscious has the ability to bring up some of our personal demons at the most arbitrary of times. I take my rest very seriously and would prefer to ponder these things while awake, thank you very much.

It got me thinking about whether this is perhaps why I’ve always been tougher on my sister than I should be, and frankly, I know that that’s a conversation for the therapist’s office. I realised, however, that after waking up from this dream, I got up with a couple of strong assumptions about all parties involved, based on my experience, and well, my own opinions of these people. My formed opinions over time, of course.

So here’s the question. What would happen if you left your assumptions about someone at the door each day? What if I got up, and let go of all assumptions of who I believe anybody in my life to be, be it from their behaviour in real life, or even in a dream. What if we just took the people for who they are today, and what they are up to at this point in their lives. What if we didn’t hold others to the ideas that we’ve crafted about them over time? What if I let go of old resentments, which are most likely not even applicable to the people these days anyway?

Now listen, I’m not saying it’s a good idea to “leave your assumptions at the door” regarding someone who is abusive or a toxic influence in your life. We all know who those people are and it is best to maintain firm boundaries with them at all times. I’m more interested in the people we judge a little more harshly, the ones we assume “have it all together” and quite frankly, those we can be a little jealous of. Is it time to let go, in order to move forward? Perhaps.

I’d like to take more time to appreciate that everyone is a combination of the good, and the bad. We’re all imperfect, we all deserve forgiveness, and we all have some healing to do. I’m not sure about you, but I think it may just be a little bit easier if we undertake this together.

I’ll ponder this for a couple of days at least, and welcome your thoughts in the comment section or via e-mail.

– Conrad was here.

The importance of simplifying, especially when you’re trying to focus.

This past weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about how difficult it is to focus, no, truly focus in the modern digital age. While being well connected is a big blessing, and enables us to connect with loved ones even if we’re thousands of miles apart, it also comes with a downside, in the sense that we are constantly bombarded with information, from a host of different angles.

I’ve slowly started to realise what this has done to my ability to focus (productively focus) on my work, which is something I take a lot of pride in. I’ve been working as a marketer for over ten years, but over the last stretch I’ve mainly been consulting for companies from all over the world. Working for yourself has lots of perks, but also comes with lots of stress. Last week, I realised that I was simply taking on too many personal projects, to be able to give the business my full attention. I looked at all the personal commitments I had made, and realised that I was starting to burn the candle at both ends again. My body agreed, and put me in bed for a few days with a cold to contemplate this fully. Conclusion: It was time to simplify.

Since then, I’m back on my feet, and have initiated a process of simplification in my life, i.e, I’ve gone through all current commitments and cut the things that aren’t essential at this time, and taking away from my focus. While I would love to keep finishing Masterclasses, studying new languages and working on a novel at this stage, I have to also be realistic about my capacity to hold all these projects successfully (especially because they are all quite cognitive heavy), while also reminding myself that I’m one person, putting a lot of pressure on himself to do very many things and all at once. Nobody can live like that. Well, live a fulfilled life like that.

So I’ve decided to take a step back from bigger picture objectives, and decided that for now, my main focus would simply be on putting in the necessary time with regards to my business. I love working as a marketer, and have been blessed to work on some amazing projects over the years, but my attention has dwindled a bit in recent months, especially as I’ve been travelling, and as a result of living in a foreign country for a few months, and I’d like to take a few steps to start rectifying that.

Aside from removing some commitments temporarily, I also decided to go through all my notes, books and post-it’s from the last couple of months, cataloging some ideas and important information, and tossing the rest. It’s amazing how things can build over time, to a point where you don’t even know what you’re working with anymore. Decluttering this aspect of my life, and placing some items I have with me in storage, has truly made me feel refreshed and light going into the new week tomorrow. I underestimated what it would do to me to do something as simple as just keeping a handful pens with me at all times, rather than having a case with 50 odd pens on hand at all time. Simple is better!

I guess you get the same feeling from going through your cupboard and tossing or donating any clothes that have simply spent enough time on the hanger in the last year (another event that we should all be working into our calendars soon as well). Living light gives you the chance to simplify, live with less baggage, and ultimately, improve your long term focus. Try it with me?

– Conrad was here.

The publication of my second anthology, ‘Encomia’, kicks off today with the first English poem I wrote this year.

“Roaming”
by Conrad Schwellnus

She wandered the earth, an angel,
Broken by a spirit of trust — 
Commanding the masses,
But carry her family, she absolutely must.

In her meandering, she fumbles, she’s done —
But where were the coin smugglers in your troubled days?
I weep for you, Ms. Houston, roaming even in death,
A legacy of a ghost, but a human being like the rest.

Sing for me Nippy, lament the pop monster —
When did the people start to let you down?
Did you need to be held, need to be fed —
Your emotions on fire, sacrificed for what others did and said.

I will extend myself inward,
I will always love me… 
You remind me of my pitfalls,
Drawn into the ashes by a wave of echoed calls.

You remind me to be gentle,
You encourage me to be kind —
Rest easy, beautiful.
You’ve left a lesson or two behind.

Back in March, I submitted a poem written in tribute of the late musical icon Whitney Houston to a competition, and managed to place third in the poetry category. I gave it a lot of thought in recent weeks, and came to the conclusion that I wanted to re-publish it, as part of the next anthology and body of work I’m sharing, titled Encomia.

This felt like a good starting point for the anthology, setting the tone for the eleven other poems to come, which are in tribute of people (dead or alive) who have inspired my creative process in some or other way.

Each time I read the poem again, my attention is drawn to something new, and I guess that because it was the first English poem I wrote this year (literally), it will always have a special place in my heart. Now it has an official home as part of a body of work, and in a way it also inspired me to start writing more in the general direction of tribute poetry.

To learn more about the poem and the story behind it, see the original published article over here. You can also learn more about Encomia by reading the announcement post I made earlier this week. The anthology will be rolled out weekly between now and the end of September, and I look forward to welcoming you along with me during the journey. 

– Conrad was here.

‘Encomia’, my second anthology of poems, will be published starting this week.

Now that ‘Autumn Haze‘ has been published in full, it’s time to prepare for the release of a brand new anthology, namely a collection of encomia written in reference to a select few people who have inspired me creatively over my lifetime.

Encomia, you ask? Well, an encomium is a speech or a piece of writing that praises someone or something highly. I felt that this would be a fitting title for the collection of poems I have written using particular people as a reference point, and in a way I get to honor these people by publishing some work inspired by the way they live(d) their lives. I’d also like to look back at this time of my life and have a guide for the influences that inspired my creative expression in this particular phase of my life.

So, starting on Friday the 5th of July, a new poem from ‘Encomia‘ will be released each week, until the series concludes at the end of September.

For the first poem in the new series, I will be revisiting a piece I wrote for a competition recently, which placed third, and received some great feedback. I wanted to share it with more people as it was a particularly important piece of work, considering it guided me in more of a storytelling direction with my poetry, rather than writing from a purely emotional standpoint.

Where ‘Autumn Haze‘ was very personal and a snapshot of my life at a particular moment, ‘Encomia‘ has personal references, highlighted through others, which in a way is written in tribute and appreciation of these people. It won’t all be rainbows and butterflies, I promise. I have been influenced by a range of people, some wildly popular, and others not so much. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing the poems, and look forward to hearing your feedback once we kickstart this new chapter of my writing journey.

– Conrad was here.

‘The Gentle Collective’ — our exclusive online community encouraging joy, belonging and acceptance — is here!

I’ve been toying with the idea of building an online community through Conrad was here, primarily because I’ve received so many wonderful, kind and compassionate e-mails from people who have been able to relate to some of my articles, poems and podcast episodes. I’d love to be able to connect more closely with the followers of the blog and I’m thrilled to say, that starting today, we’ve officially launched this very community!

The Gentle Collective is a space for a community of people who share similar value systems, and are united by a sense of joy, belonging and acceptance. A collective working towards growing a network that is focused on gratitude, nurturing and paying it forward. You ready to be a part of something special?

By joining, you not only get exclusive access to my writing, podcasts, photography and more, but you also receive an invitation to be part of our brand new, private online group.

If this sounds interesting, and you would like to be a part of this exclusive Conrad was here. online community, sign up over here and wait for an e-mail from me. Looking forward to connecting with you!

– Conrad was here.

I attended my first pride parade ever — and it proved to be a very memorable experience indeed.

Yesterday was the day after my 31st birthday, and what better way to usher in a new cycle of my life than by attending my first ever pride parade, in Alfenas in Brazil.

First ever? But like, haven’t you been out for almost seven years? …I hear you. It’s true, this was my first experience at any pride parade, and the first time I actually had the confidence to go with an open mind, clear heart and with the intention to have a good time.

All the other times I had the opportunity to go in South Africa, I always managed to talk myself out of it, be it because of feeling scared of being othered, because of inherent voices telling me that I’m not allowed to express myself as a gay man as openly and publicly, or just because I felt like the music would be too loud (which it naturally was, but that’s besides the point and one of the weaker excuses I gave myself over the years).

Sure, I was a little anxious arriving at the parade hand-in-hand with a man, especially being in a fairly conservative small town, but, I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout, the energy and the general feel of inclusivity. Surprised and excited. People were all dressed up for the occasion (my partner and I actually wore a matching outfit, including some heart stickers on our shirts and some face glitter, which you can see on Instagram) and I was thrilled to see more than just the gay community mobilized and showing support for the LGBT cause. Seriously, it was a mixed bag, which was surprising. There were families, children, teenagers, regular-ol’ straight folk and all kinds of attendees out to show their solidarity for the cause. When I think about it now, it’s easy for me to get emotional about it, having spent a lifetime feeling shameful about who I am and my sexual preference. Yesterday was almost like another coming out for me; I got to express myself openly and in a way it was a healing experience too, having been the victim of homophobic abuse in the past.

The afternoon included great music, friendly faces, a few speeches, an appearance by the head of UNIFAL (the public university of the town), as well as lots of drag performances, photo ops and general merriment. Sure, the alcohol was flowing and the drugs were all over the show, but I’m glad that my partner and I got to experience this sober, fully coherent, and in a way that made the experience about more than just a party. This year, it was really about showing up, and showing appreciation for those that fought for the rights of the community fifty years ago in the Stonewall Riots. We were able to be out in public, expressing ourselves without fear of retribution as a result of these heroes, and it is something that everyone who is part of the LGBTQ+ movement should be thankful for.

All-in-all, it was certainly an experience I will never forget. It also brought me closer to my creativity, as being surrounded by so many fabulous people in their finest gave me a lot of ideas about my writing and general creative expression moving into this new cycle of my life. For example, I woke up rather inspired this morning to start sharing some of my photography, including a picture I took at the parade yesterday showing your “everyday” Brazilian woman watching a drag performance with a flag of solidarity. In a time where the country has an openly homophobic president, this seems to have a political connotation of sorts, but you can make up your own mind about this. Have a look at the new section of the site (and to see the picture) over here. I’ll be uploading more pictures to the section very soon.

Happy end of Pride month y’all, and thank you to everyone who showed their support this year, advocating for compassion, empathy and inclusion during and outside of pride month.

– Conrad was here.

The ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology officially draws to a close with the final poem in the series, “The Ledge”.

“The Ledge”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Bare my soul, I am exposed,
My mind and body widely predisposed.
To management standards, alive in a dream,
Stoic and passive as a wave crashes over me.

Pour into the depths, greet the tall dark stranger,
I might do better searching for a crib and a manger.
Stroking my ego while a downfall does begin,
Raise myself, as I mourn the depths of things.

Bare my soul, yet I do feel more exposed,
A hand with a tingle, a finger yearns to know the toes.
This came to me, like a series of latent dreams,
A wishful reminder, that nothing is as it seems.

Raise my hand to the sky, give a joyful inflection,
Listen to my beating heart, expressing bountiful introspection.
Am I in a haze, am I falling off the edge?
Hopefully hopeless, as I step back from the ledge.

“The Ledge” was the final poem I wrote for Autumn Haze, and it is a blessing to be able to share it with you today. Initially written in the third person, the final version of the poem ended up being first person, as it is something I wanted to share as a snapshot of my mental state when I finished the anthology back in March of this year. To me, it summarizes what felt like a rather dark headspace at the time, but also indicates a renewal in the last stanza, with my mind “hopeful” and “stepping back from the ledge”. There is a progression from some of the earlier poems in the anthology and I hope readers will experience this poem as something that vividly describes the depths of my mind during this particular point of my life.

Autumn Haze has now been published in full and is available for you to read from start to finish over here. It has been special to be able to share my first anthology with you, and I will have some news about Encomia, my new anthology, which will take a bit of a different direction, very soon.

– Conrad was here.