Who is this "Lucky Roland" we keep talking about? Read on to find out!
Where did you go on your last vacation?
Immediately stumped! My whole existence feels like a holiday, so it’s genuinely tricky to answer that. For me vacation is more about headspace than location... obviously the latter can facilitate the former, but learning to apply holiday-mode at will is a skill I deliberately practice that can feel like a cheat-code to life.
Specifically though? I recently shot up to the mid north coast for 4 nights of surfing, camping and phonelessness which was utterly divine!!!
Where in the world do you live and what do you love the most about it?I live in Sydney, Australia and have done so since moving from my birthplace (Auckland NZ) twenty years ago. Between different share houses, my folks’ house and sleeping in various vehicles at various beaches over the past decade, I’ve sampled a lot of neighbourhoods and am of the firm conviction that Sydney is the greatest city in the world. We’ve struck this golden balance here of modern infrastructure and natural amenity, with a proportionally minuscule population to boot... it’s an insane place to live. And even still I catch myself bitching sometimes! How silly. Live here incorrectly and find yourself in the wrong places, and sure, Sydney has the shortcomings of any other consolidated urban environment; traffic jams, crowds of people, garbage. But navigate beyond mainstream movements and Sydney has abundant parks and peaceful green spaces, a vibrant art scene, and international visitors who have traveled tens of thousands of kilometres to sample what I take for granted every day. I mean ridiculously beautiful white-sand beaches half an hour away from a bustling CBD?! No matter who you are, what more could you possibly ask for in somewhere to live!
If I think of “home” though... Curl Curl. North Curly specifically is my favourite place in the entire world. Aside from it’s natural beauty and exposure to south swell, it’s where I’ve paid the most attention to my personal growth, where I’ve spent the most time being truly present. Curl Curl has homed me at my best and at my worst, and nowhere else offers me an equivalent taste of sanctuary.
What do you think the biggest threat is to our planet and the people in it today?Fear.
For me, fear is at the root of everything threatening our planet. Be it of climate change, of our fellow humans, of our past or of our future, fear underscores not only all the bad things I wish we could remedy, but causes the freeze-response that makes remedy impossible. I consider this the great paradox of our time; as animals we are bred to fear! We have evolved for 4 billion years through our avoidance of discomfort, and fear is uncomfortable. And to make matters worse for such social beings as humans, fear is incredibly contagious. Fear metastasises, mutates into apathy, and suddenly we’re all standing frozen, rooted the spot, paralysed by the increasing enormity of the challenges that surround us, and constricted by the culture we’ve generated that seemingly rewards selfishness and forgives inaction. Yikes.
Looking left and right, it feels pretty easy to absolve yourself of responsibility to improve the world around you. No one else seems to give a shit, why should I? But simple problems have simple solutions, and my personal solution to fear is presence. Time spent worrying about anything beyond the here and the now is time wasted! Understanding this has given me liberation from fear that is hard to explain with words, by simplifying decisions in the most beautiful way. Basically whatever uncomfortable thing I contend with at whatever moment, the least painful way forward - the only way forward - is by embracing it fully. Otherwise the fear - the suffering - will continue, will get worse, will never cease. So whilst embracing fear in the short term may seem far more terrifying than ignoring it, it will cancel that same fear from the future and so produce a net positive result in the long term. Duh! Pursuing discomfort is so obviously critical for personal growth, but I think it applies to collective growth too, and is absolutely key to facing the threats and challenges in the road ahead.
When I let the fear in? Human-induced climate change is what frightens me the most. As far as ginormous problems go, that’s a very easy one to be overwhelmed by! But even in my darkest moments I am 100% resolved that with the right turn of events, it’s not too late to repair the damage. One of my favorite Buddhist philosophies is “tend to the part of the garden you can touch” - whether in terms of climate change or human connection, it all counts. The ripple effect of small-scale positive energy is a shockingly powerful thing.
Give us your elevator pitch for your mission.
Every one of us is keen for a greener world, but so far we’re taking an awfully long time to change, and I think I’ve figure out a big reason why. There’s a hidden message in environmentalism that has been lost in application. Environmentalism - realism.
We’re currently suffering a morbid communication breakdown. It’s awesome that Leo goes to the icecaps in helicopters and makes speeches at the UN. But how can the everyman relate? We can’t all grow our own food and we can’t all afford a Tesla, but implementing change has been made out to be a much bigger effort than it needs to be!
Trust me when I say: there are things that you can do every single day, that - no matter how small they seem - will add up and will make a difference.
Cycle to work ONE morning, go without meat ONE day a week. It all counts.
My mission is to educate (mainly myself) and prove positive agency in the everyday, with environmental news and bants for regular people who want to make greener choices without compromising their quality of life.
WE ALL BREATHE THE SAME AIR!!!
What drives you to get out of bed every day?
My privilege. As far as opportunity goes, I hit the veritable motherload as I entered this dimension. Loving parents and family, amazing education, in the right corner of the world with wealth beyond the wildest dreams of 99% of the other people here with me on this rock. This is the first and last thing I think about each and every day: how would someone with nothing feel, if they looked at me, with everything, and I was doing nothing to make the world a better place?
If you’ll forgive my indulgence in sharing, I have this silly little mental sequence that is entirely unrealistic but for the life of me I can’t shake off.
I imagine myself, had I received a very different ticket in the lottery of life. Let’s call him Unlucky Roland - poverty edition - sitting in a slum in Delhi or Jakarta, some place where my week’s wage here in Sydney would sustain life for a year. I imagine this destitute, impoverished young man suddenly having access to a miraculous telepathy screen, a visual portal to the other side of the world... to where Lucky Roland - luxe edition - is sitting on a fancy couch in a nice room, surrounded by single-use packaged fast food, running energy-hungry appliances, flicking a smartphone screen without a care in the world. Maybe smoking plastic-filtered cigarettes too, and he left the fridge door downstairs wide open. How does Unlucky Roland feel with this sight? A glimpse at someone just like him, but with all the resources he so desperately craves... and doing absolutely nothing with it, instead choosing to pollute the world and collective consciousness into further dysfunction.
You guessed it - Unlucky Roland is furious. How dare those with everything not just fail to use it all for good, but in fact use it to destroy the home we all share? I guess this ridiculous train of thought reflects my very real distress at the inequity of the world, but it is the purest motivation that I could ever need to get out of bed in the morning. It wasn’t my choice to be Lucky Roland, Haver of Everything, but I flatly refuse to be Lucky Roland, Giver of Nothing.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could give your 15-year-old self?
Don’t be scared you freckly, pudgy young nerd! Be happy for who and where you are, it will all make sense soon enough.
What does the word ‘community’ mean to you?
Common energy. Community transcends every social construction - be it gender, race, socioeconomics - to galvanize people on a platform that is yet to be defined by human or measured by science. To me, community is deeper than verbal description. It is the gut feeling of belonging felt from the undeniable profundity of shared resonance.
Tell us about your self-care routine.
Self-care, Hmm... surfing. Yep, surfing, surfing, a bit more surfing, and then some surfing to finish up with. Did I mention surfing? HA. Be it with board or body, in the surf is my happy place. It strikes this holy trinity of nature, exertion and creativity, and I give thanks every day for having access to it.
More broadly speaking, I am completely hopeless without the following things: exercise, meditation, space. And vegetables! Lots of vegetables.
After being diagnosed with Depression at 22 it became quickly apparent that compromising on self care is and always has been a very slippery negative feedback loop for me. I am not good at doing things in half-measure, meaning however full-tilt I am committing to an activity at that minute, I need to be careful to balance it with personal time and self-reflection. Surfing just nails it for me in a way that nothing else does. Generally speaking, I am looking after myself best when my heart rate is going up and down and I am away from electrical devices - what could impose that more forcefully than 4-6 foot and offshores! Otherwise, cycling of any and every type is a dependable backup when the sea is flat.
If I was to scaffold my perfect day of self-care: sunrise stretch, surf, hand-brewed filter coffee (a mindfulness ritual unto itself!!!), another surf, brunch, an afternoon of creative pursuits (writing, painting, building), maybe a cruise on the fixie before another surf when the onshore has glassed off, then in for a sundown stretch before an evening of good food and good conversation with good people. Heaven, and thankfully not far off reality.
Oh, one other recent thing - if there’s cleaning to be done of any kind, that’s my latest mindfulness game. Tidy life = tidy mind, 15-yearold Rols definitely didn’t see that one coming!!!
Who/what has been the biggest influence in getting your life to the stage it’s at now?
The ocean. As a teacher, as a therapist, as a judge and as a friend, I have very real respect for the ocean as a being. Of course not the only being beyond the human dimension... but certainly the most powerful non- biological being with whom I have been able to clearly communicate. I have learnt everything I needed to about myself in the sea, and I continue to experience guidance and presence most clearly in that environment.
BUT this is not to discount the innumerable cast of very special human beings who have influenced my growth and movement through life! Everyone has something to offer, and I have been so incredibly blessed by simply amazing people surrounding me through every walk so far. My parents, brother and sister are with me even when they’re not. My best friendships - some spanning over twenty years - fill me with joy, peace and confidence that I could never accurately describe with words.
I am without a shadow of doubt the luckiest human to ever live, and I dare you to tell me I’m not.
Thank you so much, Roland. Is there anything else you would like to add?
A kind offer but I’m sure everyone would agree that I’ve blabbed plenty thanks very much! Thank you so much for having me.