Kayaking on top of a dormant volcano

Every morning, to get to work, I drive past a lagoon. At exactly 8:00 a.m the surface of the lagoon is 180 degrees, flat and calm, producing a mirror-like effect.

I’ve driven past this lagoon at different times of the day: 8:15 a.m, 9:00 a.m, 12:00 p.m, and 5:45 p.m, but at no other time does the surface look as close to a mirror than at 8:00 a.m.

This is the lagoon’s magic hour.

From the road, you can easily glance at the lagoon and become mesmerised by it, forgetting that you are driving during peak traffic hour. For this reason, I’ve stopped driving the car, and take the bus to work instead, so that I can watch the lagoon as the bus drives by.

The history of the lagoon belies its calm surface. It is the product of a volcanic eruption, 28,000 years ago, forming a deep crater that extends unseen below the surface.

Of course, it’s dormant now, so it’s pretty safe to swim there, but I wouldn’t go down too far.

A body was once found by the edge of the lagoon, at 8:30 a.m, half an hour after the magic hour.

For this reason, I only go to the lagoon a few hours after 8:00 a.m, when the surface no longer resembles a mirror and the tide starts to move in and out.

There is a bank halfway around the lagoon that slopes down into the waters. This is the only way to get your kayak into the water.

You have to park your van there and carry the kayak out of the trunk, then push it gently down the slope until it rests in the water.

At this time of the day, the waves slosh around the basin, and seagulls line up in rows, bobbing on branches. Once or twice they dive down to catch some unseen creature lurking beneath the lagoon. 

I do a few laps around the lagoon, then when I feel tired, I park the kayak in the middle of the lagoon, rest my paddles to the side, and let the tide carry me whichever way it’s going.

If you are brave enough, you can also bring a book along to read. But this is only if you are not afraid of getting your book wet.

I suggest bringing along a copy of “The Lost World” by Arthur Conan Doyle because then you can imagine that you are really on an adventure.

This makes me sound so adventurous, but really, I’m not. I just like the sound of the birds, the crisp evening air and the tranquility of being alone on the lagoon. This is perhaps the perfect hour for writing a novel or getting some reflective thinking done.

See? That’s the power of this lagoon. Every hour is a magic hour for something to happen.

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Financing my writing career

If I quit my job today, I will have enough money to last me 6 months. If I sell off all my assets, I will have enough money to sail into the sunset for 3 years and 6 months.

I have always had a bigger purpose for the money I’ve earnt. Some people save for the next high, others for a fancy car. I have been saving all my life to finance my dream of becoming a writer.

Growing up, I was told that writers only have two options: to struggle or to give up.

Being the kind who doesn’t like to give up, I decided to struggle. Or so, I thought those were my only two options.

Fast forward a few years of working non-corporates and low-income jobs, I can say that my finances are in better shape than most people working high-income jobs.

Having it drilled to me from the start that I would never achieve financial success in a writing career, has made me strict about my expenses.

All my life, I’ve forgone the daily necessities of modern life: makeup, coffee, and alcohol.

I have never faced the mad rush of putting on makeup in early morning traffic, nor lived for the first hit of morning coffee. I don’t know how many shots it takes to get me drunk, because I have never tested the limits of my body in such expensive ways.

I keep my life simple.

When I need to feel pretty, or confident, I replenish my energy from the inside. I read books, I write, I go outside, and I talk to friends and family.

I am an advertiser’s worst nightmare, but this has saved me a lot of money.

To emphasise how much one can save on a low income, I’ve broken down my weekly expenses as best as I can:

  • Groceries: $50
  • Mortgage: $325
  • Electricity and internet bills: $20
  • Transport: $40

Total weekly expenses: $435

I share my expenses with my sister, which makes it possible to cut down on individual costs.

Next year, I will be turning 28. I have yet to experience the highs that people my age have experienced. I have yet to travel to Egypt to see the pyramids and ride on camels.

But for now, I substitute fancy vacations with long road trips, night outs with night ins, take-outs with homecooked meals. And I’m OK with every single choice.

I set this lifestyle into motion when I was 12 years old, training my mind from an early age, not to desire the things I don’t need.

I am now 27. If I wanted to spend 3 years in isolation, writing a novel, I could. If I wanted to quit my job and sail into the sunset for 3 years, I could. But I’m not going to do that.

My mind is set for the long term. Writing is a long-term game. And in the beginning, financial support is a writer’s best chance of staying in the game longer.

So, to writers and dreamers everywhere, I urge you to learn to support yourself financially.

I urge you to set yourself up to succeed in a world that doesn’t want you to.

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