Butterfly Kisses is based on a true story.   

The characters are also based on real life people but names and circumstances have been changed for the obvious reasons. Healing often needs a process of dredging from the bottom of the pond before the   water comes clean. The author hoped to achieve this for himself in    writing of these strange, and then maybe not so strange happenings. It is also a verbalization of the pain that many people both men and women feel for such a long time after the end of a close relationship. This is   particularly so if in retrospect it has been one that never should have ended. We all learn as we go and as we grow. Sometimes this is for good and some times not so good, but survival in the aftermath becomes the paramount issue. 

Nearly everyone has a deep-seated desire for life to contain some      exciting and mystical journey. Life must have an element of passion about it or it is just an existence. The author grew up in a strict and    confining religious atmosphere that’s basis was, that life would begin at a later point in time, as many religions believe. The belief, that here and now was only a bus stop. Put those chains around the spirit of someone who believes in color and music and passion and something will crack one day as it often does. To exist with any sense of decency one has to stand in their own truth, something the author so strongly believed in, but knowing what that truth is can be a difficult thing to confront. 

In Store Price: $29.00 
Online Price:   $28.00

Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages: 315
Genre: Fiction


Author: Daniel McKinnon
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2005
Language: English



The author came from very humble beginnings, but always had a passion for whatever life had to offer.  He took the challenges despite a life constricted by the closed and opinionated thinking of a very strict religious upbringing.  

He achieved most of the goals he set and in the process tasted so many varied aspects of life and human nature.  He has received recognition in construction, business, art and poetry. This is Daniel’s first book but will not be the last.  People are Daniel’s passion and people are a story waiting to be told.  

He believes anyone can have or be anything they want…if…. they are prepared to pay the price. However be aware that the price just maybe too high to pay.


Butterfly Kisses  

Butterfly Kisses is a fictional writing based on true happenings of the author’s life during a particular period. A difficult one. The characters are also based on real life people but names and circumstances have been changed for obvious reasons. Healing often needs a process of dredging the dross from the bottom of the pond before the water comes clean. The author hoped to achieve this for himself in writing of these strange, and then maybe not so strange happenings. It is also a verbalisation of the pain that many people, both men and women, feel for such a long time after the end of a close relationship. This is particularly so if, in retrospect, it has been one that never should have ended. We all learn as we go and as we grow. Sometimes this is for good and sometimes not so good, but survival in the aftermath becomes the paramount issue.  

Nearly everyone has a deep-seated desire for life to contain some exciting and mystical journey. Life must have an element of passion about it or it is just an existence. The author grew up in a strict and confining religious atmosphere, the basis of which was, that life would begin at a later point in time, as many religions believe. The belief that here and now was only a bus stop. Put those chains around the spirit of someone who believes in colour and music and passion and something will crack one day. To exist with any sense of decency one has to stand in their own truth, something the author so strongly believed in; but knowing what that truth is can be a difficult thing to confront.  

The unfortunate fall-out of addressing or questioning one’s inner belief structures is often that it hurts those you love. It becomes a knife-edge balance that can go either way. The author, in his years of confusion and after that break point, met and assessed the lives of many people from many varied backgrounds and there was a commonality to the way everyone felt. We all learn the application of knowledge gained way too late in our lives. Those with an inquiring mind have a much greater battle than those who accept mediocrity, but there is a price to pay as always. Sometimes that price is way too high to pay.  

The author’s situation was a compound one. There was the usual fall-out after a broken long-term relationship, especially a good one. The final break up was for reasons a lot less tangible than the standard or obvious ones. To add to this, it was also about the same time that the author chose to formally stand aside from the religion that he had been brought up in from birth. The punishment meted out for such a brave move was the emotional blackmail of complete shutout by all family, friends and acquaintances. Bearing in mind that this was ninety-eight per cent of the author’s circle of life to date, the compound effect was almost an emotional annihilation. He had in effect committed emotional suicide. The author knew the punishment, but to use that as the reason for not being true to yourself, to him, was the height of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy was something he had witnessed in bulk over the years. A hypocrite was not who he wanted to be. However, knowing something and then living and dealing with it are two very different scenarios. He learnt a lot about walking in another’s shoes.  

Many of his friends and family played the game and managed a foot in both camps, but that was the very thing that sickened him enough to make his choices in the first place. The final choice cost him all.

The survival fall-out found him eventually caught up in the dubious world of Brisbane nightlife. He ended up in a world he had not frequented before. The world of pubs, dance venues and nightclubs. The reason was a simple one. He had now landed from another planet and was more alone than anybody he had known before. He needed to be around people, bright lights and music. His personality is such that this gave him a thesis on another angle of life, and he studied it. He talked to everyone he met and asked questions of them all. He had come from the planet of the self-righteous, assuming and judgmental, to the planet of ‘I am who I am, accept me for who I am’.  

There were all types in this melting pot of humanity, but he had been fortunate enough to meet a high percentage of amazing people. True, they didn’t live by the Ten Commandments, but he found a taste of basic human warmth and Christianity in some of them that had no label declaring it to the world. He met many on the same journey of discovery who shared a part of the road with him for a little while. He had some very bad experiences and some more than wonderful ones. Whatever they were, they were now another chapter in the book that is his life.  

From amongst those that his family and friends would look down on and despise, he met some lovely people; some lovely young women who helped him survive. Some of these are still amongst his very best friends today. People, who practiced real good works, not just read them from a book and presumed that they were theirs. The conclusions he came to, are just that, his conclusions and personal point of view as it unfolded to him.


Chapter 1


It was cold on the stone-coloured tiles of the added sunroom - a room that James Bergen detested despite its functional use. It was one of those disgusting modern advances in the use of glass and aluminium that made additions affordable, and any implied connection to architecture ludicrous. The electronic buzz of the cheap alarm clock that he had set to 4.30am by mistake had ended a deep and undisturbed sleep, a luxury not enjoyed for many years.  

‘Butterfly Nirvana’ was magic at this time of day. Early mornings, with the smell of fresh rain on the lush grasses and the mist hovering over the granite monolith, gave the property an almost surreal atmosphere. The ring of mountains named in the days of Captain Cook, gave the property the feeling of seclusion seldom enjoyed in this part of such a fast developing area of the State. The property’s real title was ‘Nirvana’, something that delighted James when the droll voice of the electricity supply service operator revealed it to him. ‘Oh you mean Nirvana’, she said after a search of address. ‘Yeah well that’s what’s on the records mate’, she declared in her best Aussie drawl. The addition of ‘Butterfly’, even if unofficially, completed the magic surrounding the ill-fated reason for the property’s purchase. These thoughts going through James’ mind seemed to encourage the wings of the brightly coloured tattoo on his chest flex uncomfortably.  

Cursing the bitter taste of the black instant coffee, James longed to be in Melbourne’s famous street of restaurants, taking the first sip of a wonderful rich brew, seemingly only able to be perfected by some portly Greek or Italian restaurant owner. He watched the slow spiral of smoke pall from the Longbeach cigarette, not his usual brand, but then his eclectic tastes requested many changes of direction. He savoured his ability to enjoy, to some level, so many different things, and a mind that was open to all life had to offer.  

It had not always been like that. Years of study and training within the society founded by a prominent 33 degree Mason had suppressed and tortured much of the mental freeness he now enjoyed. James liked to think that this was a complete transition. Deep down inside however he knew that many of the deep, dark disappointments and agonies of recent years were underpinned by a foundation of self-discipline and a high set of values. Was this to be a really bad thing or had he missed a significant point? The point was, that those values within themselves were a point of difference to be appreciated. Anything set apart on a higher level also came with a higher price right? One thing he did lament though was that those values struggled to find meaning or worth in the world around him. A world changing so fast. A world so seduced by the American way of life and advertised point of view. An emerging army of plastic clones swayed to the seduction of television shows and magazine articles guising the liberation of the goddess and yet imprisoning her more. His stomach turned when he reflected on his pretty young niece just nine years old and so aware of the need to sexualise her clothing taste. A necessary tool in the competition for male attention that only yesterday seemed reserved for young women at least twice her age.  

James was a man who enjoyed passion, sexuality, and adored femininity but within a place of respect. His favourite analogy was, likening this world’s most common attitudes to ‘feeding the dog from the Wedgwood plate’. James was a man who painted and sketched with great appreciation the body of the naked woman, but failed to see its advertised exposure in glossy men’s magazines as the medium to present something so wonderful. James’ experience from exhibiting artwork had taught him the fine lines involved in the correct presentation and circumstance for a particular piece to gain its full respect.  

Something felt different over the last few weeks. The heavy load of the thick, water soaked, wool blanket that had threatened to suffocate the final throws of life’s joys seemed to have lifted. It was not completely gone but there seemed to be at least the possibility of freedom from its burden. In practical terms nothing had physically changed, but now the small emerging light of perspective flickered beneath that dark blanket of loneliness. The last few years of turmoil in his soul had been accentuated by the wider minded approach he had taken and yes, by the entrance of Butterfly.  

A cool fresh wind fanning across the mountain face heralded the advent of autumn as James slid the glass door panel aside. Blade the two-year-old red Smithfield terrier that had come as one of the property assets, lay motionless in her kennel. Apparently as a pup, she had swallowed a pocket knife. That’s gotta hurt, he mused. Dumb dog. Not really, she was very cunning and smart in truth, maybe that’s a ‘ginger’ thing James considered. James had had a few connections to redheads and there seemed to be a whole set of different circuits plugged in there. Usually the advent of morning and the release of the chain was met with a flurry of exuberant antics that begged attention. However today one raised eyelid showed recognition of her owner and then as though she had pushed the snooze button, she sighed and went back to sleep. James was wishing to come back as a dog at this point. Yes maybe, providing you had the right master, he thought to himself. Just like the human world.  

It was still quite dark and only a silhouette of the plantation trees surrounding the property was showing through the early mist. He walked back inside out of the cool breeze. One more cup of disgusting coffee. The lit tobacco crackled on yet another Longbeach mild filter as James drank in the serenity surrounding him. Despite the uneasy strange and hollow feeling that seemed to be taking rally-driving lessons within his veins, he felt something else. For the first time in a very long time there was that priceless tingle, that energizing spark that only these thoughts could bring.  

Without even realising it, after all this time, the silken strands of another woman’s hair were running through his fingers. The smell of her skin filled his nostrils, and that unforgettable sparkle of Jordan ’s clear blue eyes laser cut a path through his own retina. He had only met the young model about a month ago and it was an attraction to her words of reassurance about her own set of values that had caught his attention. He had made a pact with himself, and with the beautiful young model, to spend some time together as friends at this point. With all the pain of the last couple of years still an unhealed wound, this made good sense. However, uninvited feelings had started and the calming effect of her voice and laugh had already taken a positive effect that was so welcome. She was so welcome. His moods were ever more pensive, yet the light was flickering brightly now as memories of an old friend came into vision, even if briefly. Memories of a guy who loved life, and had a passion for it and who was driven. A guy who once smiled back as the razor marked its tracks in the lemon scented foam each morning.  

The emerging change in spirit, the re-generation of that life engine, appeared to come at a pre-designated time, a time set by outside forces. This time he had waited for, hungered for, and, for what seemed like eternity itself. It had been years, but then Jane his beloved cousin who was presently living in the UK , had told him it would be like this. On her last visit back home, and based on her own past experience she said, ‘You will come out of it my friend, but don’t expect it to happen overnight or when you feel it should, it will have its own timetable. You will make it. But one thing, one piece of advice. Do whatever you have to do. Try whatever you feel you need to, go where you feel you have to go, but always, always keep your dignity and set of values under whatever circumstance, in whatever strange place you find yourself.’  

These words would influence a profound point of difference on the years that lay ahead of James. They would shape his future in ways not comprehended at that point. He was about to enter a side of life he had never known. There would be many times he would not believe that he was in this new ‘place’ in which he found himself. A world he would find both intriguing and yet heartbreaking at the same time. He found himself in a labyrinth of pubs, dance venues and the inappropriately named Gentlemen’s clubs.  

There was something else right now too. James had never believed in the mystical and unusual with anything other than a level of curiosity. Besides, ‘the society’ that he had been a part of for so much of his life forbade any such interest in these matters. All things were analysed and assessed on provable truths. Research the manuscripts, compare the secular historian’s view of that time, compare to the physical world and process logical thought. Why he had the tarot cards read he had no idea. He was a sceptic. Old women running around the forest boiling up eye of newt, wing of bat, and cackling like thorns burning on an open fire for Christ’s sake. Their revelations just vague and broad statements embraced by the lowly soul looking to hear what could be transposed to some meaning that suited them.  

Jordan ’s life was also at one of those crossroads. She had wanted to consult someone and had urged him to do the same. He was unsure, but then if it meant something to her maybe he would, maybe. He recalled the unusual experience that fanned this present candle of light. It was mid-week and he had just finished the company banking at the multi-level shopping centre, close to the factory complex where he worked. There was a lot of anxiety in James that day.  

Butterfly had called just one more time that morning. They had broken up sometime ago but there had been unresolved issues. There was sadness, regrets, and this time for James, heartbreak and anger. Butterfly couldn’t have sliced his heart open any more precisely with a scalpel. It was a very strange and confusing relationship, one that had rent him in two. She sometimes seemed to care so much and most other times, not at all. Of course there was now more clarity due to another factor in James’ life, his newfound belief in Karma. He had assessed that this situation and various circumstances had way too many commonalities to his now lost relationship with his ex-wife Elizabeth . The pain he must have caused to one of the most substantial women that he had the privilege of knowing was being served back. Why he had it served back five fold, bewildered him somewhat, but pain is pain he thought, Karma’s choice.  

Things with Butterfly had ended up with a sparing match of words on that ridiculous modern excuse for communication called phone text. Both of them had been very angry, but why she was James still has no real idea. It would remain a question he was sure he would take to the grave. Right now, she needed closure, as did he. He felt he had that at the point where his malleable heart had turned to solid rock, and she left a pile of stones weighing that heart even deeper into the icy waters of romantic shipwreck. However, one thing that Jordan and he had discussed on the very first date was that there must be no exs involved, no phone calls, no messages, no meetings. She rightfully wanted clean beginnings, as best this could be achieved, if there was going to be any chance of something between them. He respected her view; he respected her.  

Butterfly could not handle the thought, or maybe it was the guilt, of not seeing him at least one more time face to face, a proper good-bye. Theirs had been a relationship of hello and good-bye. She wanted a smile from the man she had at one stage affectionately nicknamed ‘the Woolif’. This was a residue of a joke she had told him about, where little red riding hood implored the wolf to, ‘be a man’ and ‘eat me’ like the storybook said you would. In better times, they had at least made each other laugh… a lot. Not long after that, he had given her one of many presents, this one with a card showing a beautiful little girl looking up at a big teddy bear. He had written the inscription, ‘Are you really a big bad woolif?’ and it had stuck forever.  

Right now she was insistent that he make that one last visit to the Pussycat club to have a drink and hopefully leave with some basis of civility between them. James felt she didn’t deserve his smile and had fully intended not to have to look at her again. He recalled his promise to Jordan , but he also knew that those requests would not happen easily without this final meeting face-to-face with Butterfly. He also pondered that he had loved this young woman with all his heart. This time he had held nothing back. Yes, the final ending was as bitter as wormwood to his soul, but maybe even for himself, some level of dignity in this may help. His stomach was in a knot for several different reasons by now and, as hungry as he was, he couldn’t think about food. These days he often forgot to eat altogether, besides it wasn’t worth the bother on his own. Memories of Elizabeth ’s culinary skills evoked a sad regret. In all those years he couldn’t remember a failure from her kitchen. The thought of her signature roast dinners or one of her faultless lasagnes would usually prompt some kind of hunger pain, but not today.  In fact he was having trouble thinking about anything clearly.  

The shopping centre was buzzing with the usual masses of middle-aged housewives stocking up for the long weekend, and meeting for coffee with other combatants. The new generation of undisciplined and out of control offspring screamed and yelled for attention, the latest in cheap toys, games and copious amounts of junk food. With all this spinning around in his senses, there they were, level one in the middle of the shopping mall. His eyes scanned the poorly written particleboard sign. ‘International Psychic Convention’, with the offer of tarot readings at twenty dollars for fifteen minutes. His conscious mind hadn’t even registered his enquiring hand check out the pocket in his pants to stock take the cash notes available. There was a twenty-dollar note. ‘Psychics indeed, no gypsies, no cauldrons. Of course there are no fucking cauldrons James, it’s a modern shopping centre with women and children, and no wood for the fire.’ James indulged that ‘f’ word far too frequently, even in his mind.  

The word was taboo within ‘the Society’, and one that Elizabeth hated with a passion. That was a flashback to a somewhat violent upbringing for her. The word usually came up in anger and was often followed by some physical act of aggression. Now though, and maybe as a level of personal rebellion, James actually found it amusing and a great medium of expression. On his first night alone in twenty odd years, in the old wooden flat at Chelmer, he remembers the bitter ache inside, and his christening of his new shelter (he couldn’t think of it as home by any stretch of the imagination).  

James had shut all the windows and doors and walked through every room reciting that word “Fuck Fuck Fuck,” just because he could. Now the flat, and those days dredged up bitter memories. Back to the matter at hand though. ‘Do I waste this money on some broad interpretation of what they want me to hear?’ He was curious. Ten minutes later a red-haired older disciple of ‘new age thinking’ was holding his hands in hers with her eyes closed.  

She read his palms and revealed a number of things that were a bit general about James’ inner self, but he already knew those things. She mentioned that he had some issues regarding a need to sell some property, and matters in regard to his employment. General, but she had picked up on them just the same. Then she read the cards.  

Her eyes brimmed and excitedly she exclaimed, “Oh this is strong…very strong.”

“What? What?” James replied. “Bad things?”

“No good, very good, I wish this reading was in my life.”

“Well are you going to tell me?”

“I just want to check more cards due to the strength of this.” As though James was now superfluous to the reading, she turned card after card smiling to herself, maybe projecting herself into this rich storehouse of adventure.

“Well?” demanded James.

“This is more in regard to your romantic life, relationships. It’s all good and all the surrounding cards support it.”

“Am I going to be included in this life of mine or are you going to keep it to yourself?” he quipped.

“I just wanted to make sure,” she qualified.

“Okay, it’s about the relationship side of your life. You have a wonderful connection to… a young woman; she is blonde and is in the entertainment field or the limelight in some way. The deck sees fertility over a number of cards.”

“Fertility!” Considering the fact that it had been years since James had enjoyed a physical relationship, for reasons he didn’t want to think about right now, fertility wasn’t high on his agenda of ‘very strong connection’.

“Fertility?” he queried.

“Well maybe in the obvious way, and maybe symbolic. The cards show that the woman is very feminine this is strong. However, I pick up something that I think is a caution to you. I feel your connection to her has been based on something to do with values; something you feel has been missing in your life of late? This is good, but this particular woman will need your attention and affirmation of her femininity, it is important to her. Even so it seems you have a reservation in your heart, you have been hurt and are lacking trust, but you will not succeed unless you address your feelings. I perceive, that you are a man who believes, has the qualities to support and open your heart, but you feel right now that you have given too openly and freely to many. Perhaps you feel nothing in life comes back to you due to this. Am I right?”  

Lucky guess, James thought in the most sceptical frame of mind he could muster. This mystical part of life is a scam, right? However at this stage he was starting to wonder, as she was spot on so far. He nodded his affirmation of the comment.  

If that part of the reading had him thinking the next bit was going to knock his socks off.  

“These doubts have been strongly rooted by something or someone over here, pointing to the right upper side of the laid out cards.”  

‘Rooted’ seems appropriate to my life James sneered inside his now confused mind. There is another woman over here.  

“There is much pain for you in this area of the cards. Again, she is young. She has… raven black hair, and is of mixed bloodlines… maybe some native or tribal line… a very deep person, like you.” Butterfly was indeed all that and more, aboriginal bloodlines too, but not to Australian soil. Maybe North American.  

James almost choked at this stage. She went on about a number of personal and intimate details about the girl that only few people knew, some things, maybe only by him and her. She spoke of a child with her. These details presented a whole other thing and one James could not afford to think about right now.  

“Yes, well okay, that’s all sort of true but is this… this connection, something you see as completed? Does it impact on anything moving forward?”  

“Well it seems she had, and maybe still has, a deep emotional attachment to you that will take a long time for her to let go of, but she has moved on already physically, in fact quite some time ago, a man with dark hair….” sensing James’ uneasiness at hearing these things she continued… ‘So, no, she has her course mapped out, and always did it seems. As for you, surprisingly, despite your deep attachment to her you seem to be dealing with or confronting it and are preparing your life to move forward.”  

Going back to the original part of the deck, the red-haired woman again smiled and seemed to be savouring her first find amongst the laid out cards. She then went on to mention several other women, revealing hair colour and personality traits. These were people who had strong influence in the tapestry she was busily weaving herself through. She asked for some affirmation on her findings, which were all again spot-on. Once more she reiterated the high value of the blonde woman in his life. She smiled and looked deeply into James’ eyes. She said nothing for a moment.  

Then in a very quiet tone she said, “Look James, I detect a sadness in you because you have felt that you have been missing out on so much and others have been reaping around you.” 

‘The other kids have been riding my pony,’ James affirmed in his own thoughts.

“I see something very different and very special. You have a large aura surrounding you, despite the fact that it is running on half power at the moment. You need to address yourself. It is time to do what is right for you. You need to look after your sexual and spiritual self. This you have neglected. I see wonderful things coming your way, maybe better than you have imagined.  Someone special just for you once again. Don’t belittle the person you are. You seem to have a rapport with women, and an appreciation for them. What I have seen is a network of wonderful women in your life who love and respect you on a higher level. You’ve not missed out. Your life is more interesting than you give it credit for. I have already given you an extra twenty minutes of my time and to be honest I could spend the afternoon on it. Your reading is rich and, as I said, I wish it were mine. The universe is watching over you. The right person is coming at the right time, you’ll see.”  

James left with a renewed strength. Maybe deep inside he was aware of much of what she said but hearing it from a stranger just seemed to make such a difference. As he walked through the dodgem race of middle-aged kamikaze pilots propelling off road family status symbols, and offspring laden mini buses of screaming future delinquents in the undercover car park, he smiled. He felt a flicker of change within. Tonight he needed the confidence. Tonight he would see Butterfly one last time. He rang Jordan and discussed his decision with her and she agreed it might be the best thing to do. He would not hide situations from her, a course of action he had grown to detest after this bitter time in his life.

The reading was a very positive experience if not unusual. He knew it was laced with things he wanted to hear, but it did carry truths too precise to have been generalised random merchandising. In regard to the future and the blonde woman, he was aware how he already felt about Jordan . He reasoned however that it is what the psychic picked up on from him; his thoughts, his feelings, not hers and not necessarily the way life would go. Life wasn’t going to magically change because some old age, new age, gypsy commercialised her wares in a concrete shopping jungle. He had to think that way as it was still an area of life that mystified him, but he knew her words had had some impact on him.  

The analytical side of James went to work purely by nature, or was it habit. His guiding direction had always been that we make our own luck. Life was just choices of the opportunities presented. His greatest business and life skill mentor, Ronald Woodstock, an African American Sales manager and close personal friend had instilled this in him. When it came to other people involved in those choices, life had already demonstrated in practical math the odds needed for a final outcome.  

In James’ mind his steps were still echoing through the concrete car jungle, when the stillness and serenity of morning on Butterfly Nirvana was broken by Powder Finger’s ‘My happiness’, James’ ring tone. The electronic beep broke the pattern of drifting thoughts. Cursing as the cigarette butt burnt a ‘back to reality’ message on his finger, he fumbled to grab the mobile phone across the breakfast table. I must change that ring tone, he thought as he offered a husky, “Good morning, James here.”

It was Jordan . God he had come to love the sound of her voice. She had left two days before for a photo shoot and possible contract in Melbourne . No time for small talk, she was upset and blurted out.

“Look I’ll try to briefly explain…can’t talk long. I’m in some trouble. I’m sorry but I didn’t know who to turn to, and ...well anyway you are the one I called…. I told you about a run in I had with this underworld type guy…he has had a thing for me…typical male rejection thing. I’m scared James, I just saw him hanging around and he’s…look I need…well, I’m sorry but I need you here. I’m at ………”

James used his favourite swear word as the call bounced out and went dead. The ring of mountains that gave such seclusion also gave the most frustrating mobile phone service. Part of him still loved the property for its own intrinsic beauty, part of him hated its inconveniences, what was left he loathed for its constant reminders. He tried to dial back but the phone had been switched off. He had to think about the strange message and request.  

My God. He had just not long ago distanced himself from a very complex and dangerous situation. Did he really want to get involved again? ‘Of course you do James, you know how you feel about her, and you know who you are. Steel yourself like always. Your own life motto, for Christ sake is tattooed on your arm for life, ‘wax up and paddle out’. He remembered how that motto came to life within him.  

When James was a teenager, surfing was a major part of his life. The small country Queensland district where he grew up in could never boast about its surf by any stretch of the imagination. However it was a start, an introduction, brought to him and other friends by a visitor from the Gold Coast. Roy was the typical young grommet and passionate about the water. The house painter, working on a job away, soon gave the ‘crew’ a hunger for what would be one of the richer parts of their lives. Trips to the Gold Coast for surfing weekends and holidays brought a whole new set of challenges for James. It was one thing to paddle around in a half metre wind slop, but a solid 2 metre ground swell grinding across the bars at one of Australia’s premier surf spots was a whole other thing.  

The life motto came from a learned life experience, and at that point in his life James had no idea how often it would be used. Sometimes with amazing results and sometimes the opposite, just like it did in the water.  

Dawn had just barely broken through the dark and heavy summer cyclone induced cloud that hung over the popular tourist strip. The smell of the salt air and cold fanning breeze from the ocean and no work to go to were all facilitating the most enjoyable sleep James had had for months. One sharp crack and then another was heard on the ugly patterned glass surrounding the closed in verandah of the old beach house where James was sleeping. What the? Two more projectiles ricocheted off the panels before two very tired eyes peered out to what both excited and worried James at the same time. Like corduroy, line after line of big black walls of water were peaking and then throwing tonnes of clouded dark liquid into precision washing machine styled pipes of hissing foam. The big sets were all but exploding on the outside banks.  

Down in the car park, the Gold Coast crew were in a frenzy of clothing changes and board waxing, and this day, plenty of waxing. Tanned invitees of skin cancer, sporting mops of matted bleached hair were falling over each other in final preparation for the assault.  

“Come on, Jimmy get your arse down here… we’ll wait… gotta get a good session in before the south-easter blows it out,” screamed ‘Haggis’.

“Yeah I’m coming, you guys paddle out, I’ll be right behind you.”

“Hurry up soft cock, this is the best swell for months, don’t want to miss this session, the tide is just right on the banks now,” urged Greg.  

The apprehension was starting to well up inside of James. The shore break was murderous and some very powerful rips were appearing on the way out to the first bank. That inside bank was one solid close out, no mercy. This was the boy’s backyard and they were all but porpoises once they hit the water.  

James knew he was a very strong paddler. Almost born in salt water, his swimming skills were excellent, and he could commit to the drop once out there. ‘So what was the problem’ he asked himself. He walked down the broken stairs that bridged the bolder protection wall, adrenalin coursing his veins. Standing on the wonderful clean soft sand that only a born Aussie could truly appreciate, he surveyed Main Beach back down to Narrowneck. There were good banks working everywhere. The more adventurous and experienced were taking the late inside drops to worship in the temple. A full covered up tube section was ‘worshipping inside the emerald temple’. Today, though, it was more of a murky brown temple. A murky brown temple was no less appealing or rewarding to the dedicated. It was still a temple of natural wonder. James watched Greg’s 56 outline drop, bottom turn, stall, and then pull in for the cover up, wave after wave after wave.  

James was psyching himself up checking the best spots to get out, waxing up his board, putting it down, finding a higher vantage point on the bolder wall, and doing some more calculations of probability in his mind. James just analysed things too much. After an hour or so of procrastination, James saw the crew returning with muscles no doubt screaming from exhaustion due to the intense session just experienced. The boys were belly riding the walls of salty foam through the beach break.  

The south-easter had started to blow early, and the near perfect glassy conditions were starting to disappear. The change in tide had altered the wave shape. Perfect peeling lips were now just closing out in one full, deadly, and un-rideable guillotine action. James was bracing himself for the barrage of ribbing he was about to get for missing this ninety minutes of ecstasy. The mathematical equation for all the needed elements to come together at the right time, wind, tide, swell, direction of the swell, sand banks, and so on must be huge he thought. This was the real drug, the real kind of high, the natural one. James had just missed out on a classic memory. As the boys walked up he knew this would be painful and it was. However, it was to be one of the very last times that James would let this kind of over analysis rob him of the rare gem that might be set before him.  

‘Fear was a good thing. It protects you right? Yes, but fear and apprehension to commit to something you know you want so very badly can rob you of so much of life’s joys. There comes a time when you just have to jump over the line in the sand, there is purely no other way.’ This was a lesson that would shape most of James’ future life in one way or the other and in some very dramatic ways. He had no idea back then that he would one day use all his courage to demonstrate this lesson with a piece of red ribbon in again a very dramatic way to someone who had both filled and ripped out his heart all at the same time.  

The motto evolved. It was simple. Assess the situation. Check out the danger spots. Check out the makeable spots. Then ask these questions. ‘Is it possible? If things went your way, could you do it? Finally, do you really, really want to do it?’ If yes and you are sure of all these points, close down the analysis mode. No more thinking to be done. Now, you just start, jump in with full gusto and don’t turn back. ‘Wax up and paddle out’. He didn’t know it then but his motto and this story would one day be used by a friend of his as the theme for a national training program. Emmy Kingston, a woman that had once shared Sandy ’s house along with him, was busy using it to inspire others to take jumps off life’s rocky ledges. During all these recent torrid years, Emmy had also been a good friend. Emmy often rang, dropped in, or invited James for dinner and outings when she knew he sounded at the end of his tether. Like everyone she had a story of similar occurrences with relationships and a background of frustration with yet another closed minded religious group. The hypocrisy she’d seen amongst the reformists had turned her thinking as well.  

In practical terms back then, James would now check out the surf, the gutters, the rips, and decide if there was more than a good chance of making it. Then, the self-affirming question. ‘Do you really want it?’ It was usually yes. Then he would just walk to the car, not look at the water again, pull the board out, put his head down and wax up, walk to the edge of the water throw his board on top of the water, and then just paddle like all shit. Once committed, you just had to do it. No going back, especially if you’d just left the safety of the rock ledge you had been standing on. Once committed, he taught himself that you don’t give up easily. The commitment deserved some kind of result or at least yet another learning experience. The result wasn’t always the desired one. You still had to take the risk and truth was you could get smashed and broken out there. He often did. At the same time there were things he never would have experienced without it. Many prizes were etched on the hard drive.  

This would achieve so much for James through his life. It would also lose him so very much. More than he had ever wanted to lose. But the journey was not over he was still paddling. No fat lady had opened the songbook yet. Right now though, he was standing on one more rock ledge.


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