To desire is to be human – desire is life.

Desire also leads to suffering. We are constantly desiring something and when we aren’t getting it, it leads to certain levels of misery.

This is a survival mechanism, in a sense. We need to desire in order to thrive.

So the question becomes not whether or not we should desire for things in life. The question should be, “are we desiring things in our lives in a compulsive manner or in a conscious manner?

To desire is part of what being human is all about. We should embrace that, right? That’s what gets us going in life. That’s what gives us the fuel to run off. That’s what gives us passion.

If we could get to a stage where managing the way in which we desire is healthy and conscious, then life could become a little more playful. I feel as though we would fear failure much less and that in itself would lead to less suffering. In a case like that, our desire would no longer be our hindrance, but rather a vessel for growth and joy.

Image below:

A cross stitch sewing thing I got going on lol. I am finding it to be a form of therapy for the mind.

Show Up

Lesson learned today:

I found this lesson to be quite profound.

As I put my head to rest on my pillow last night I played over some voice recordings from influential people like Napoleon Hill, author of such famous books as ‘Think and Grow Rich’. I put these tapes on and listen to the messages conveyed by Napoleon Hill before I fall to sleep, as this is said to be the most effective way to process information into the subconscious mind.

One of the topics that Napoleon Hill was talking about on the tape I was listening to was about showing up with everything you do. Showing up with your full self with everything you do ensures success in ones life. So, I decided I was going to ‘show up’ by waking up early to do a morning routine.

My morning routine consisted of;

40 minutes of yoga

20 minutes of meditation

10 minutes worth of deep breathing

5 minutes worth of gratitude

1 Cambodian style coffee

By the end of it, I felt full of life and energy. Although the feeling was blissful and I felt ecstatic, I learned that this was only a by product of showing up the way I did this particular morning.

I learned something far more valuable. Showing up like this in the morning proved to aid me in showing up in everything else I did throughout the day.

Having the discipline to show up in the morning set me off to show up for the rest of the day, even when things got tough. And that’s the thing – you never know when things might get tough. Your day can take a turn within a blink of an eye. Your day can involve challenges that push your limitations personally and professionally and it is up to you to show up.

Show up in the morning to ensure you show up for the rest of the day.

The view from the balcony of my apartment in Battambang.

I moved to Cambodia one year ago and it was like starting from ground zero. I had to make new connections, form new bonds, learn about particular fields of work, meet people from various organisations and network like crazy.

I’ve had to travel through various parts of the country by bus, spending countless hours on the bumpy, shonky version of what Cambodia calls its highways.

I feel like this view and this place I have now found myself in is far too good for me. It is a basic studio apartment with a bed, a balcony and a bathroom. Luckily, it comes with a beautiful wooden desk for my important work.

I remember being back in Sydney one night at a Christmas party and one of my relatives who hadn’t seen me in years asked me what my plans for the future were. My response was, “I want to move to another country on my own and I want to fend for myself.” “But, why would you want to do that”?, asked my relative. I responded by saying, “because, that’s where true growth occurs”.

I feel as though sometimes you become dependent upon that support and that sometimes during those rough moments, you tend to use your support networks as a distraction rather than a tool for gaining insight. I did this quite often. To mask the pain, I would distract myself through indulgence.

Although I have made many close connections since moving to Cambodia, life can still get extremely lonely. Ive lived on my own with my own private space, and I felt lonely. Ive lived with families of up to 20 people living in the same area, and you still tend to feel a sense of loneliness. Even back at home in Sydney, I remember feeling a sense of loneliness quite regularly.

This has nothing to do with my external circumstances, that is quite obvious. Rather, I believe that this is a state of mind. Will companionship on any level aid me? – only temporarily.

The real truth is, this is part of life. So, what do we do about it?

I believe that in these moments, this is where the true jewels are found. In loneliness, there are wonderful truths of wisdom that are waiting to be uncovered. It is just a matter of how far you are willing to go in order to realise some of these truths.

In my case, I spend long periods in isolation. It can be a challenge, but I just cant resist the gifts that come as a result.

Seasons Of Our Lives

Wet season in Cambodia.

I once heard a great metaphor where by the cycles of the 4 seasons were compared with the cycles of our everyday lives.

You go through a period where you plant some seeds, the beginning of a new path. Summer comes around and you begin to apply deliberate effort and focus as you begin to walk down your new path. By Autumn, you get to harvest and reap the rewards on your new path and for the effort you applied.

Then, comes winter. It is the period of death and rebirth. In the case of Cambodian weather, it is either wet or dry. Dry season has just passed us by and farmers have harvested all the rice for the next few months. Until then, it’s heavy rains pretty much everyday for months and months.

This time of the year is symbolic of where I am in my journey right now. The wet season, or winter is passing me by. I’m in recovery mode right, resting myself after what was a 4 months long journey of high intensity. I moved back and forth between rural parts of Cambodia, I helped build schools, I fundraised, I went back to Sydney and came back and I documented all of it via This is Philanthropy.

Now, I’m back in Battambang about to settle in to my new life here long term. I’m looking forward to the stability, privacy and extra comfort I will get here. I’m looking forward to when Spring returns, because I know that it’s during the Spring when I’ve settled in somewhere and I begin to set new standards for myself. I set my sites on new trajectories and I begin to deliberately carve away and work on sculpting out my larger visions for the future.

I’ve learned that our minds and body’s are just factory’s and computers and that you can make adjustments as you like whenever you want. You can engineer your experience with the right work.

I’ve also learned not to lose site of the bigger picture. There are more journeys being experienced than just one and becoming fixated on one journey over the other only leads to stress. An artistic journey, an entrepreneurial journey, a spiritual journey and a personal journey – balance is key. If you get caught up in one more than the other, you run into chaos.

We are now approaching a time when I begin to plant new seeds. Reflection and recovery is now underway and it’s quite relaxing.

A Way of Life

The last month or so of my life has been lived in the small village of Kbal Dremei. This place is about an hours car ride away from the big capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.

The capital of Cambodia is populated heavily and it’s general movement is one with purpose and drive. It is at the forefront of the Cambodian corporate world and it buzzes, accordingly.

We met a total of about 12 different volunteers come and go throughout this time spent living in the house. Situated in a rural part of town called Sala Lek, we lived in a quite neighbourhood of Cambodian country folk. It was nothing but dirt roads, beautiful grasslands, lakes and small clusters of forest. Usually, you had a temple sit amongst a the forest, as it provided nice areas of shade for its visitors and residence; monks of all different ages.

We became so part of the family that little sister, Chealy or younger bro Kimhua would shout, “Eat rice, eat rice, eat rice!” every night consistently to let everyone know dinner was being served. If you were late, your name would be called. “Chris, eat rice”!

“I know, I know, I’m coming”.

We would all sit underneath this wooden hut type of thing. It had a kitchen in it and Mama and Papa would also sleep in it. They slept on a hardwood platform with a mat beneath them and bed sheets that would cover the perimeter of the platform to give them extra shelter. By no means was this an act of poverty, but simply just a way of life for these old timers. They were traditional, old school rural Khmer. They wouldn’t have the conditions any other way. These guys lived through the Khmer Rogue. They know what it’s like to truly experience an intense life and it shows through them. They both carry this sense of empowerment, peace, resilience and true wisdom.

Papa was usually the leader on the construction site. He was the one who would call most of the shots. He was the visionary and we were all his workers, collaborating as a system to get the job done. I once heard that Papa was saved from being killed during the Rogue because he had extremely good practical skills. He could build things and he was also a creative artist, selling his Buddhist artwork to the local temples.

There were about 3 properties with houses on them and all 3 properties were housed with different members of the extended family. Mama raised 7 children, so there was an abundance of grandchildren running around, constantly. Plus, all these kids attended the school in the house we lived in and at the public school next door to the house we were living in.

When school was out, I would put headphones in and jog laps of the grass paddock, sometimes having to dodge cows who were also there but for a grass feeding frenzy.

When there was a ceremony on in the village, everyone will know because the music gets played so loud. Festivities in the village are important and some are very formal events.

I was there for Khmer New year which was like a 3 day bender of events held at the temple and local park. It was like Blaxland oval in Menai on Australia Day, but it went for 3 days straight where they had food, music and games.

The bonds formed, I can’t even explain. It becomes so natural, you feel as though you have known each other your whole lives. I didn’t grow up in a huge immediate family, but this is what I would imagine it to be like.

Personal space isn’t a thing and you shower yourself by tipping buckets of cold water over your body. You squat on top of a whole to do a shit and you sleep under a mosquito net on a mattress on the floor. But seriously, once you get used to all of these changes, you realise that it’s actually not as bad as what it sounds. You just start to accept the fact that this is how life is now and you just learn to embrace it.

There are chickens running around everywhere. I would observe them constantly and I would laugh at how funny of an animal they were. They are so stupid lol.

The kids run riot, but they are just so cute. You get to know them for their own unique character. They all have their own unique quirks about them and they make you laugh.

What you decide to do outside of the hours of work, eat and sleep is completely up to you. Everyone has their own unique approach to deal with this sort of free time. It’s a lot of time and it can go slow if you don’t play with it in a proactive way. Usually, I would read. That’s what I did most of the time. I would read books and I would nap a lot. I made it a mission to just take my learning to new levels, meanwhile the reality of the life I was living was teaching me in ways that I’m not even aware of yet. I will realise these lessons as time passes.

It’s the nature and process of forming social bonds like these with such random people from all over the world that perplex me. It’s one of those things in life that make me awestruck.

The Machine

Due to a speech impediment, he makes sounds and uses his body to communicate.

Usually, he is bouncing off the damn walls all day long with energy. I don’t know where he gets it from. Maybe it’s from those cans of beers he sinks in the morning instead of the coffees we get to wake us up.

They call him the “machine”. My theory is, he is an artificial intelligence robot who was programmed to build houses and drink beer but they somehow forgot to program language into the software.

His nickname speaks for itself. He works with pure strength, technique and ingenuity. His pitfall – he is undisciplined. We never know when he is going to turn up for work. He goes off his own time.

Sometimes, we need to source him from his house. He conveniently ‘forgets’ that there is a school under construction. But then there are other days when he is the first one on site and he will tell you it’s because he needs the funds for more beer.

Yesterday, he was barking orders at us volunteers. He was not in a happy mood because he got drunk the night before and was out till early hours of the morning looking for his ox that had escaped from his front yard – a valuable asset in this village.

He is the life of the party. He loves to get everyone laughing with his funny sounds and bodily gestures.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you – the machine.

The Machine

Due to a speech impediment, he makes sounds and uses his body to communicate.

Usually, he is bouncing off the damn walls all day long with energy. I don’t know where he gets it from. Maybe it’s from those cans of beers he sinks in the morning instead of the coffees we get to wake us up.

They call him the “machine”. My theory is, he is an artificial intelligence robot who was programmed to build houses and drink beer but they somehow forgot to program language into the software.

His nickname speaks for itself. He works with pure strength, technique and ingenuity. His pitfall – he is undisciplined. We never know when he is going to turn up for work. He goes off his own time.

Sometimes, we need to source him from his house. He conveniently ‘forgets’ that there is a school under construction. But then there are other days when he is the first one on site and he will tell you it’s because he needs the funds for more beer.

Yesterday, he was barking orders at us volunteers. He was not in a happy mood because he got drunk the night before and was out till early hours of the morning looking for his ox that had escaped from his front yard – a valuable asset in this village.

He is the life of the party. He loves to get everyone laughing with his funny sounds and bodily gestures.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you – the machine.

A Road Less Traveled

By choice, I’ve decided to take a path that is out of the ordinary. I think partly, this stems from this underlying desire to stand out and be different from the herd.

Ever since a young child, I’ve always wanted to showcase my tendency to be rebellious and unique. I love to be the contrarian and to go against the grain.

I’ve always loved to challenge the beliefs that I feel society has jammed into our heads and I am always up for pushing my personal boundaries, seeking thrilling experiences that push me to the edge.

I like to do what not many other people are doing, and if a lot of other people are doing it, I like to challenge the status quo.

Why do I think this is important?

Because I believe this is how true change occurs. I believe this is where you can experience the most growth as an individual. When you run towards adversity, you run towards a path that pushes you to your edges, forcing you to solve problems, deal with people and compose yourself emotionally, physically and mentally all the same time. This is where true growth can occur. This is where true change can be made.

This is my reason for choosing the road less traveled.

This monastic type of lifestyle can take you by surprise.

You have regimented structure with a lot of free time on your hands. A lot of time to think, observe and learn.

One thing I’ve come to value in my life is Stoic philosophy, or Stoicism. The philosophers of Stoicism include men like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. They were men of extraordinary importance and success during the times of the Roman and Greek empires.

Due to the fact that places like Rome were so prosperous, it gave these great minds the time to think and ponder about the more existential questions of this life.

Like a monk who lives a monastic life a temple or a yogi who lives one in an ashram, this way of life has me intrigued to the bones.

When you have the time to sit and ponder and contemplate on life like you do out here, you tend to dig down to more deeper levels of thinking.

What does this do for me? It gives me insight. I get to discover things about myself and about life that I never new existed. I have the time to question and to constantly work towards seeking some of the answers that could propel me forward as a human.

It gives me time to refine some of the skills I love using when I play. Refining my content creation skills, my meditation skills, my creativity and my logical reasoning skills, my social skills and my emotional intelligence skills. I get to watch and refine over and over and over again, all day long.

Things can get monotonous and I sometimes feel sick to my stomach knowing how much time there is, plus the gruelling construction work that goes on in the blistering heat. But I’m just so attracted to the idea of having so much time to just think and observe.

These are where all of the questions are answered, because it starts from within.

Part of my promise was to deliver content that is raw and authentic.

There are pieces of content that I create that are emotionally uplifting and contain elements of joy and prosperity in them and that is well warranted. There are many beautiful moments of happiness, unity, prosperity and humour involved in this life.

However, there is a darker side to it, as with all things.

This image was taken in the male dorm room at FEFA school. Due to the fact that these students are getting access to free education, the teachers of the school and the owners of the property don’t have the means to improve conditions. So, this is how they sleep.

I lived in these conditions for a number of weeks and for someone who isn’t accustomed to living in an environment like this one, I found it to be quite a challenge.

Wanting to improve the living conditions of this place comes from two places for me;

1) I believe learning can be further optimised when students are living in more reasonable conditions.

2) The level of discomfort that I experienced while living in there gave me an itch that now must be scratched. It has made me want to improve conditions to provide a better quality of life in general.

With a small donation, we can work towards getting the students off the ground and on to a wooden platform. This is the first step, as it ensures better hygiene and helps the students with their sleeping process which is vital for learning.