Category: Human Stuff

We are all humans. This is stuff about being human that you may relate to.

My psyche has been pummelled by decades of cross-genre input and frankly, I like what the wash and spin cycle of my brain does with it all. The trick is getting readers to understand what they are in for when they read my work. It’s a trick I haven’t learned particularly well, but I’m well-adjusted to going with the creative outpouring. It’s hardly surprising that after a lifetime of perceptions that one becomes attuned to filtering information in certain ways. I grew up watching a lot of TV. Pretty much anything science fiction, British comedy, American 70s and 80s sitcoms, Austrian comedy and drama, classic Hollywood Saturday afternoon movies and Sunday night indie films. Then there were video games, books of course, and an early exposure to theatre. Also, naturally, there was and still is the significant influence of the people around me, my environment and socio-economic situation. It’s no wonder my fiction writing is a potpourri of all these influences.

Writing is no different to any other form of interaction with the world. My mind filters information according to all the other information that has gone through it previously. Sometimes what comes out is the result of patterned responses and other times there are surprises. But fundamentally the soupy conglomeration of my experience directs my thoughts.

We all have our influences, we all have our life experiences that affect the way we see the world, the way we interact, the way we create, the way we make decisions. I take pleasure in observing the differences between the multitude of sources that alter my perception. Sometimes observation gives me the opportunity to step away from my own skewed view and other times the desire to revel in it becomes consuming.

When you hold your lens to the world, do you consider how it affects what you see?

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

I haven’t posted in a while and there is a good reason. Actually, it’s not a good reason it’s a bad reason. A very bad and sorry excuse for a reason. I’ve written previously about the effects of the 24/7 news cycle on my psyche. I could blame being too busy with work, or domestic responsibilities as reasons for me not putting pen to paper, or in my case fingers to keyboard. But the fact is I’ve been consumed by a constant need to update myself with fear, distrust, loathing and the completely mundane. My ability for clear thought has become fractured and one of the main tools I rely on to diffuse this destructive force, writing, started to become difficult to access.


So, this post is a declaration to you and to myself, that I am taking steps to combat the modern scourge that plagues our lives. For me it chiefly takes the form of constantly reading the news, for you it might be a game, checking email or social media. I’m probably guilty of all of them.

The reality is if the world goes to crap it’s not going to make any difference if I read about it on my smartphone numerous times a day. While I feel powerless in the face of global events, watching helplessly as world leaders play chicken with our collective future, what I have at my disposal is the ability to express ideas, to shape words into some form of meaning that hopefully resonates with others. This process makes me feel better. While I’m constantly downloading news I’m not putting anything positive back into the world. My thoughts and energies are being disrupted, confused, fragmented.


A juicy conspiracy theory can readily be drawn. A fragmented mind is easier to overcome than one that’s clear and focused. Just why are we being bombarded with information if not to confuse and distract us from making objections to those with unsavory agendas?


To help me combat fragmentation I’m starting out with a couple of lists. I have a ‘To Do’ and a ‘Not To Do’ list. They will probably change, but you have to start somewhere.

Not to do

  • No tech in my bedroom. I have an alarm clock. That’s all I need
  • If sleep is interrupted, NO screens in the middle of the night.
  • Don’t look at my phone without purpose
  • No checking email outside of work hours
  • No social media outside of scheduled times

To do

  • Read or write at night when I can’t sleep
  • Allocate time for constructive social media interaction
  • Only look at my phone when it rings
  • Write every day
  • Read every day
  • Meditate every day
  • Exercise every day
  • Watch or listen to news once a day only

This is my approach to the pervasive streams of information pouring into our lives with unparalleled speed and quantity. What’s yours?

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere
See also Browser Beware and The Great Disruptor.

For David and Adam

When I was 15, in January 1983, David Owens, Adam Garnett and I somehow convinced our parents it was a good idea to let us ride our bikes from North Ryde to Terrigal on the Central Coast for a week’s camping trip.

We met at 4 am on the corner of Twin and Badajoz Roads. There were a few parents in pyjamas and bathrobes checking we had everything and ensuring our commitment to safety. We tore ourselves away as quickly as possible, minimising hugs and kisses. Grateful they cared enough to get up at 4 am to see us off, but determined to get away before being too embarrassed, before the affection that existed between us and our families was exposed to each other. As though familial bonds could somehow make us appear weaker in the eyes of our friends when the truth was they had the opposite effect.

We made our way towards the highway. Adam joked about the full breakfast his mum had made him eat despite him not feeling hungry. The boys set a cracking pace and it was clear I was going to struggle to keep up. The idea of the bike ride had been romanticised in my mind, a boy’s own adventure. The reality was more arduous. Both David and Adam had done some training or perhaps they’d just used their bikes more than I did. I figured my general riding around would be enough preparation, but it wasn’t. Within a few minutes of setting off my legs ached and my lungs fought to catch my breath. The boys adjusted their speed to make sure we stayed together, but they kept me at the edge of my ability, pushing to keep us on schedule, ever encouraging to ensure I wouldn’t give up or burn out.

Although I was lagging I wasn’t the first to pop. When we hit the 3M building at St Ives and joined the Pacific Highway, Adam stopped us and wretched his guts up. ‘Are you ok mate? Should we go back?’ I said, concerned about Adam, but wondering to myself how I was going to make it through the next few hours feeling spent from the first 20 minutes. ‘No’, Adam said as he wiped his hand across his mouth. ‘It’s just the bacon and eggs my mum made me eat before we left’. He took a few sips of water. ‘I told her there was no point! I’ll be right now. Just had to get that out.’ ‘Are you sure?’ David asked. ‘We’re not stopping,’ Adam replied. David took a good look at Adam. We deferred to David for all things concerning health and safety and the outdoors. If he said ok, it meant he’d evaluated it, assessed it fully. ‘Ok, let’s go, but you have to tell us if you feel sick again.

On we pushed. As the morning broke the traffic grew. It slowed us down, allowing me to keep up. We hit a steady rhythm, mostly keeping to the road but occasionally moving to the footpath as our parents had asked. Sticking to the footpath was never an agreement we were going to keep. It seemed more dangerous to dodge cars reversing out of their driveways than it was to ride close to the kerb. We’d said what we had to say to convince our parents. We would honour that agreement as best we could but we wouldn’t do it blindly.

When we hit Hornsby so did the semi-trailers. The multitude of trucks hadn’t been part of our plan. There was no footpath at this stage and we had to weave our way around potholes on the shoulder of the road, keeping an eye on the trucks and never straying into their lanes. We made a pact not to tell our parents how dangerous it was. We couldn’t have them thinking they were right.

Bikes weren’t allowed on the freeway so our plan was to ride to the Hawkesbury River station, catch the train to Gosford and then ride the last leg from there.

It’s a fast and winding road from the Highway down to Hawkesbury River. The speed caught me a little by surprise. The boys both tore off ahead and I didn’t blame them. We had agreed to meet at the bottom. We all tore down that road as fast as we wanted, as fast as our bikes could go or we dared let them. It was both terrifying and totally exhilarating. I don’t think I’ve ever moved as fast on a bike, never felt as blissfully free as I glided through that crisp morning air. It was all inertia. I couldn’t peddle fast enough to keep up with the speed of my wheels so I just cruised, keeping an eye on the road for holes or bumps, my body moving left and right in harmony with the bends. I half expected to see David or Adam flung to the side of the road. As fast as I was going I knew they were going faster.

We all made it safely to the bottom, excited and elated, our exhaustion evaporated in the rush of adrenalin. Though it was a welcome relief to avoid the freeway and catch the train across the Hawkesbury River into Gosford, we also felt a little cheated. After our downhill conquest, we were ready to take on the world. The freeway would have been an easy challenge for us.

The final leg to Terrigal was an easy pace compared to our cracking speed at 4 am. We cruised into the camping ground around 9 am, my older brother waiting with a carload of our gear. What had been a 5-hour adventure for us had been an easy 1-hour drive for him. We were all happy to have someone there, waiting to acknowledge our achievement.

We made camp, sorted out provisions, appeased the fretful parents with a phone call and made for the beach. Some friends joined us a day or two later and we spent the week cycling to the beach and back, making rudimentary teenage meals, talking into the night, unconsciously cementing our friendships.

At the end of the week, we readied ourselves for the trip home only to discover a train strike meant we couldn’t ride home. Parents were called and lifts organised. I was a little relieved not to make the trip back on the bike. It would have been one last adventure, but exactly how we were going to make it back up that giant hill, from the Hawkesbury to the Highway, none of us had planned. We were probably all secretly relieved the brilliant week away was ending with an easy drive home. In my case, it was a short drive to join the rest of my family for another week’s holiday by the beach, where I would be grateful for a real bed and home-cooked meals.

Both David and Adam are gone now. David was 33 and taken too early by leukaemia, and just last week, Adam unexpectedly died at the age of 49. Only my memories remain of that handful of hours we challenged ourselves by racing off in the early hours of the morning. Only in my mind is the laughing, the screams of joy, the quiet moments and raucous exchanges. We shared something intangible with our experience together, something that remains with me, now my friends are gone, something that will always travel with me and bubble to the surface when I need it most.

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

To Cli-Fi or not to Cli-Fi, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous science fiction or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them?

Yes, a somewhat bastardised version of Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy. Yet if you take a moment to deconstruct it, the answer to why many authors are picking up and running with the Cli-Fi mantra is apparent.

Cli-Fi was coined by journalist Dan Bloom and he champions the propagation of the term through, an academic and literary Facebook group – Cli-Fi, Climate Change & Literary Criticism, and other social media channels.

It is well established that science fiction offers authors and readers the opportunity to enter worlds of possibility. Science fiction has never been restricted by the word ‘science’. On the contrary, science fiction explores morality, social constructs and the edges of human behaviour. It is no surprise then, as we face climate change, the greatest dilemma to have challenged our species, that creative minds would act to both express their dismay but also to offer hope and possibility beyond what is considered in the media or around the water cooler.

I started writing my novel ROAD TO NOWHERE in 1996 as a reaction to stories of global warming in the news. It struck me as alarming then, that as a species we were being very slow to act. It alarms me even more now. I remember learning about greenhouse gasses in primary school and being taught about the life cycle of the sun and what life would be like for people at its different stages. These early encounters with popular science stayed firm in my mind and somehow colluded with many other ideas to form this book.

ROAD TO NOWHERE doesn’t sit easily within the Sci-Fi genre. It’s part thriller, conspiracy, satire, philosophical exploration and there is even a touch of romance. There is sex in there too, because for many people sex and desire are overpowering forces often never understood or controlled.

Cli-Fi brings all the competing genres within my book together and sums up what it is about. For me, that is an exploration of the fundamental duality of our species. Our determined headlong drive into self-destruction polarised by an opposing instinct for self-preservation and survival.

By exploring climate change in fiction, authors can take fellow human beings through an experience they have not considered. Isn’t that the function of all fiction?

By coining the term Cli-Fi, Dan Bloom brings works together that exist across the world of literary fiction. The aim is simple. We want to save the planet and we want to save our species and we want to save those we love and we want to save ourselves. It can feel powerless when observing history unfold, watching the proverbial train wreck before your eyes with no means in your power to change it.

Cli-Fi gives us that means. With the feeling of powerlessness, the ability to share ideas becomes essential. Words change minds and minds change reality.

As a writer, there are many stories I want to explore, but for the moment I can’t look away from the big glob of murky uncertainty before me. I must deconstruct it, I must make sense of what we are collectively doing. Is it too much to hope that along the way, I and other authors, might bring a few readers along with us? The conceit of the writer is all I can offer. At the very least if you don’t change your mind I hope I entertain you to the end. I suddenly feel like one of the members of the quartet on the Titanic, offering a melodic knowing tune as the boat sinks into the deathly cold waters. Regardless I will continue to Cli-Fi because frankly, I don’t know what else I can do.

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

Multiple choice questions imply that you actually have some choice with your answer. This may well be true if you are taking a multiple choice quiz, survey or test of some kind. But have you ever stopped to consider how your answers to everyday questions might also be multiple choice?


If you have been raised in any contemporary social construct, and let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of us expect perhaps Tarzan, then the chances are that much of what you think, feel and say is chosen from a small collection of predefined answers. And, yes Tarzan was still raised within a social construct, just a vastly different one to our idea of civilisation. It’s that contrast that makes Burroughs’ story a classic tale. How central is your identity to your social construct? How aware are you of how your social construct influences your choice of words and more importantly your decisions?


Examining your responses to questions is a good way to find out. You may find that different topics will have their own set of pre-defined answers. Being asked something simple such as, ‘How are you?’ will illicit a response from you such as, ‘Good’, ‘well’, ‘Fine’, ‘Okay’ or possibly ‘not so good’, ‘bad’, ‘unwell’ etc. You don’t have to think too hard to find an answer. There is a list of responses for you to choose from.


This may seem trivial to you, obvious in a way, however if you apply this to every conversation you have you can begin to unlock just how much you are thinking and how much you are relying on multiple choice answers.


To highlight an extreme, if someone for example asked ‘Will you marry me?’ you might reply ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘let me think about that’. Thinking outside the multiple choice answers you may consider if marriage is actually something you want or is it something society wants you to do. Likewise, when considering a career or other choice that affect how you will spend your life on the planet many assumptions are made. These assumptions all fall between a fairly narrow range of multiple choice ideas. How many of them are actually derived from independent thought?


Need more evidence? I’m not big on traditional research but I am good at drawing highly subjective conclusions from observing others and being conscious of my own behaviour. What I’ve noticed is in most conversations people rely on common phrases to supply or form the basis of their answers. Here are a few you may have used:

If I had a dollar every time someone asked me that, the ball's in your court, best of both worlds, it’s a piece of cake, you've bitten off more than you can chew, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg, back to square one, a blessing in disguise, don't put all your eggs in one basket, between a rock and a hard place, hate to burst your bubble, let me give you the heads up, that’s really below the belt, it’s not my cup of tea, that's the last straw etc etc etc. 

The list goes on and on and while some of the above might not be familiar to you, every culture has its own set of stock answers that we all draw upon to form our responses to situations.


Why am I so hung up on phrases and multiple choice answers? Because while you think you are thinking you are not actually thinking. They may appear benign, but multiple choice answers reinforce the social construct. If you truly examine your responses to questions and take time to consider answers that are meaningful to you then you may well find answers you didn’t realise existed. Perhaps you will then be thinking outside your own experience, outside your own conditioning.


Be careful, anything could happen.


Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere


Street signs are always telling us what to do. We have stop signs, give way, slow, reduce speed and so on. We have walk and don’t walk signs and we have traffic lights controlling our movements, but don’t get me started on traffic lights. My point is, we are pretty used to reading signs and then as a result altering our behaviour.

An unexpected interchange in a DVD store made me wonder if the sign reading skills we have collectively developed could also be applied to people? I was travelling at the time, feeling relaxed and in particularly good spirits. I had discovered a secret store filled with hard to find cinematic treasures and was very happy with my choices. Generally, I’m a friendly person and when I buy something I’m always respectful. Perhaps it was my relaxed mood, or the lack of any obvious way in which I may have triggered the response, but when the sales guy was suddenly very rude to me, rather than get upset, my inquisitive nature fired up and I started observing. What was making this guy so unhappy? Life had, for whatever reason, put him in the situation where he was at work and he was cranky. I was not the problem. He didn’t know me. I was just the latest in a line of people who had appeared before him who required him to do his job.

So I didn’t react. I just read him. He clearly didn’t like his work. He didn’t like people buying DVDs from him. He was annoyed at every aspect of the process; how long it took to remove the security device, the time it took me to take out my credit card, the speed of the transaction over the telecommunication system, the hard to open paper bag, the frustrating tape dispenser to secure my items and the receipt in the bag. I suspect he was also annoyed there was someone else behind me, ready to make him relive the same process over again. What I was reading was a great big sign-post. It wasn’t telling me what to do, rather it was telling me what not to do.

After his huffing and puffing, eye-rolling and general looks of contempt I began to notice lots of people moving about the world doing things they didn’t like, being people they didn’t want to be. Not seeing the plethora of opportunities before them but remaining stuck in their rigid outlooks of life. It’s easy to be judgmental when someone is rude to you, but actually being rude is a very unpleasant feeling and is a key indicator that someone is, at some level, suffering.

I don’t know what led this guy in the DVD store to be so unhappy. I don’t know his life circumstances. I don’t know how trapped he feels by those circumstance or if he is just trapped by his own mindset.

What his suffering provided was an opportunity to anyone willing to read it. I for one was grateful for the warning. When I looked beyond my own offence at the behaviour I was moved to feel compassion. From my perspective here was a person going through something stressful just so I can get the message. Of course the message was there for him to see as well and I hope that at some stage he is able to see what I saw. What I did with that message was to start paying attention to my own behaviour, particularly when I was feeling tired and cranky. I noticed just how easy it is to act out, especially around those closest to us. They might be the most forgiving but it doesn’t mean they should have to suffer our bad behaviour.

Signs are literally everywhere. Reading people is naturally extremely subjective and if you take some understanding away from anything you witness, it doesn’t change what that person has experienced. They will probably never know the effect they had on you. But looking at others is a great starting point for looking at ourselves.

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

There are some people in the world that are very determined to debrief. Regardless of the situation you might be in with them they need to download. They need to tell you what’s happening to them, why it’s happening, what it means to their life and so on. This doesn’t always feel like a conversation in fact it feels more like you are being talked at than conversed with.

For the listener it can feel as though you are cornered, trapped until the story ends unless you can find a means to contribute or your phone rings and you can say it’s really important that you take the call. Good listeners, I presume, have means to withstand or perhaps even enjoy this type of information exchange. There is a difference between someone carrying you along with a story and an outright information dump. It can be particularly difficult if you already know the story but the teller pushes on regardless.

You might be busy, you might have a hundred things to do, but the neighbour, or your child, your parent, your partner or your colleague doesn’t see that. They just see a person before them. A set of eyes and ears that can perceive their information and regardless of your interest they must share it with you.

When I’m caught in this situation I imagine a beaver building a dam. They go about their task with determination and a single-minded focus. They are doing what they have to do. They can’t stop, they can’t waiver. Just like the determined little semi-aquatic mammals, some people are trapped by their biology and their life experience. While a process of self-awareness could assist them, in these moments they have no alternative but to push on, to relive their experience and give it to you with as much detail as possible. Seeing someone in this process, in this uncontrolled one-way information dump, has at times triggered my compassion. I’m not so much moved by the story but I am moved by the human being before me that is unaware of their actions to the point that they can’t see the human being in front of them is smiling politely and is not really interested. At other times I give my all to listening to the details. I pick apart what the person is saying and try to see if there are sensible things I can say to help them. There are other times when all I can do is allow the process to come to its natural end, escape when I can and take my battered psyche and lick my wounds. Ok, a little over dramatic but let’s face it, we have all heard things from time to time that we wish we could un-hear.

To be fair, I’m no different. I do it too. I’ve caught myself debriefing. I’ve felt the need to share as much as the next person. And this has made me wonder what is it about telling other people things that is so important? Does it help us validate our fleeting existence? Does it assuage an unconscious fear of being meaningless? I for one am guilty of pandering to a desire to make people think and more importantly to make people laugh. But so much of what goes through my mind is lost once I’ve thought it and moved on. It’s only what I share that remains. But for how long?

I don’t have any great answers. What I can share is that I think it’s a fine line between sharing a deep and meaningful conversation and thinking you are sharing a deep and meaningful conversation. Sharing ultimately creates connections and as social beings those connections underpin our sense of well-being. Perhaps that is what we are grasping at when we don’t stop to consider if we are truly sharing or just downloading. So if you do find yourself captured, remember while listening you can also observe and as our brains are very clever we can take in multiple means of information. We can console a listener and have compassion for them while in the same instant disagree or hold what they say in contempt. We can also observe our own judgment and perhaps consider how similar we are to the person in front of us. A human being caught in any behaviour that is not totally under their control is a being that deserves understanding. If they have no tools or means to bring about awareness how will they ever have self-understanding or change their behaviours?

Beavers however, to the best of my knowledge, don’t concern themselves with such things. They just go about building their dams. It’s only we humans that expend the same or more energy on thought around an action as the actual action its self.

Information dump over. I leave it to you to consider.

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

I have an itchy spot on my right calf. It’s probably mild eczema. I have seen the doctor who has referred me to a skin specialist but I’m yet to follow-up on that appointment. Dr Google says it could be one of eighteen conditions. I’m ruling out some of the nastier probabilities on the basis that there are no other symptoms and if it was something really nasty then I’d probably actually feel sick or it would have gotten a lot worse by now. In the meantime, I don’t always notice it but occasionally it gets insanely itchy and I find myself scratching the hell out of it. My sensible voice says, 'don't scratch, go and find out what it is and get it treated'. The sooner the better as the unknown can often be more problematic than the known.


So that’s my leg, and apart from it registering itchy sensations, it’s strangely giving me a little perspective. I mean, it’s itchy, it’s been itchy for a year and yet I’m so slow to act. Like everyone, I’m so caught up in everything else I’m doing that I keep telling myself I don’t have time to see a doctor. It’s just an itch and everything will be ok, surely? Well I actually do think it will be ok, but what if I do nothing and in another year it isn’t just an itch? While I continue to do nothing about it, my annoying itch makes me think, ‘Is the increase in global temperatures just the world’s itchy leg? Why do we ignore the obvious until it’s too late to do anything about it?


I’m calling the specialist today and making that appointment. I can’t expect anyone else to listen to my resolutions if I don’t act on them myself. I don't want to lose the argument with myself and wind up not having a leg to stand on. Perhaps you have something of your own you should be getting checked? The world does, and while we are very busy living our lives we are missing the obvious. If we don’t take care of ourselves and where we live then this whole thing is going to be over much faster than any of us might like to think. Forget about not having a leg, I'd really like to keep having a world to stand on. 


Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

No one believes that I’m a Moonatic. That might be in part because it’s not a real word. You see I feel I needed to make up a word that does not imply insanity in the same way Lunatic does, but still gives rise (moonrise even) to the possibility of a periodic Luna influence of mild proportions.

If it is so mild, why then does it even matter? Well, it matters to me because for years there have been times when I suddenly feel out of kilter. On the surface, everything is going well, but a disquieting unease permeates my spirit. A number of sleepless nights follow and I get tired and cranky. Then, I look out the window and there she is. La Bella Luna. What light from yonder window breaks, it is the moon and suddenly the feeling is much easier to manage knowing it has once again coincided with the illuminating celestial presence of a piece of rock in space.

That is the extent of my research. It’s circumstantial, but it’s mine. My theory for why the moon exerts a force upon me, other Moonatics, Lunatics and ovulation cycles, is that we, as so well put by an alien life-form in the Star Trek Next Generation episode ‘Home Soil’, are ‘bags of mostly water’. That’s right we are somewhere between 60-80% water. No one questions that the moon has influence over the Earth’s tidal patterns, creating highs and lows. Similarly, a Moonatic, such as I, also has a tidal pattern. Sometimes my tide is high, sometimes my tide is low. Again why is this important? Because being aware of something lessens its influence. Realising that we are sometimes subject to our chemistry can also unlock a further understanding. Are we not completely subject to our make up? Isn’t our perception of everything not only skewed by our humanness but also sometimes altered in subjective ways that we are not only unaware of but are unlikely to ever recognise? Something to consider in the light of a full moon perhaps.

Until otherwise disproven, I’ll stick to my assumption that I’m well and truly a Moonatic – that the moon asserts its influence, for good or ill, over my water-based constitution. Anyone else?

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

From what I understand there are 10 qualities under the Buddhist concept of ‘Perfection’ and ‘giving’ is one of them. The Perfection of Giving is the act of generosity without expectation. You give for the sake of giving. You see a need, so you help  and you don’t get anything back. However, the irony of the Perfection of Giving is that you do get something back, but not if you are expecting it. What you get is happy. That’s right, just when you thought happiness was unobtainable in the modern world through means such as wealth, sex, success, relationships or owning the latest piece of tech, along comes an ancient idea.


I’ve been to Nepal twice with Hector Marcel and 108 lives. Our first trip in 2012 was a small group who set about reconnecting with many of the street people Hector had first met in 2008. We also spent time making new connections with local agencies and preparing for the larger volunteer projects in the years ahead.


Like everyone I have my challenges and my responsibilities in life. I was apprehensive about making the trip, feeling that my absence would mean others back home would have to cover my work and family responsibilities but also I had no idea about what I would be doing. Once I was there however, it was the idea of the Perfection of Giving that helped me park concerns about my own life and it gave me access to the unexpected. I went about doing work for people that needed my help. It was difficult at times. I’m not a social worker, I’m not a professional aid expert. I’m just a person who wanted to help and that sometimes meant turning off helping in ways I was good at and breaking through my own sense of what I could do. Looking and listening to what people really needed and doing things without judgment of others or myself.


I met people in desperate situations and sometimes there was little I could do to help them. I saw children being used as begging props, I saw teens addicted to glue sniffing and alcohol, I saw women and children with acid burns, the victims of domestic and political violence.  At times I had to look beyond failing to help some people and keep a focus on the bigger plans. I saw one women at a temple who had terrible burns and when our eyes connected I was deeply moved by her despair. All I could do was give her some food. I had no other means in that moment to help her further, though with all my heart I wanted to do more.


In our short time in Kathmandu on that first visit we met with many people living in the streets. We discovered Mount Summit School and have since helped countless students. We connected with the Quilts for Kids program and the Boudhanath tent community, we found the Rokpa group and have provided many meals and medical clinics through them. We visited Sano-Sansara orphanage and have made a difference to many children’s lives. I know that what we have done collectively has helped many people avoid some of the terrible fates I’ve witnessed.


I’m not telling you this so you’ll think I’m a good person. I’m not asking you to like me or think I’m in anyway way special. I just want to share my experience because giving without expectation first and foremost helped people, but as a side effect those actions made me happy. Focusing on the needs of others evaporated the daily concerns that previously filled my life. This was further consolidated on my second trip where I became deeply aware and incredibly grateful for what I have available to me in my life. Returning home and incorporating a shift in mindset has had its challenges but I can honestly say that while I have the odd moment of frustration I never lose sight of the joy giving brought to my life.


I’m truly grateful to Hector Marcel for creating the opportunity for me, which in itself was a perfection of giving. The wonderful thing about ‘Perfections’ is that they are perfectly simple and easy to enact. All you have to do is show up, silence that doubting voice and help.


Evan Shapiro
Author – Road to Nowhere