Are you also dragging your feet to the finish line, feeling more burned out than ever?

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Are you also dragging your feet to the finish line, feeling more burned out than ever?

I’m on my way to Hanging Rock, in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne, a mystical place from which Miranda has still not returned.

The sun hasn’t shone here along the south-east of Australia for weeks now, and there will be more mud underfoot than you would find at Glastonbury – but even wild mud-covered brumbies couldn’t keep me away, because I feel like tonight – rain or hail – might signal the moment that a normal life has really returned.

Australia’s dark poet of the sacred and the profane, singer-songwriter Nick Cave, is performing at that shadowy place in a long-awaited and much-delayed performance with his fellow Bad Seed, Warren Ellis.

The two recorded an album together called Carnage during the long, dark days of which we only speak in whispers now, and Cave describes the record as “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe.”

When he plays the album under the stars and gum trees and ancient rocks of Macedon, I have a feeling we will put the vestiges of that catastrophe into the old earth there, where it belongs.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, two middle-aged men, sit at a piano together, Cave looking into the distance, Ellis at the keys
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are on tour.(Supplied: Trafalgar/Charlie Gray)

Oh, don’t get me wrong: I haven’t been living like a hermit since we emerged blinking into the light: in fact, I may have been going at things a bit too hard. A friend of mind ruefully noted today that she better move beyond her post-COVID life rather quickly: her liver might not take too much more of her making up for lost time.

But I feel that something about the lightness of this moment – the relief, this release – has to be reconciled with the dark – the loss and all that fear – and I think it’s only someone like Nick Cave, this tumultuously creative spirit, someone who believes that art should never be in the hands of the virtuous, who might make final sense of all this, give this moment its last rites, and kick its memory to ashes.

A burnout end, a new beginning

Shall we all draw a line under the last three years with this end of the year, with the demise of 2022? Like the years that preceded it, I don’t imagine anyone will lament its passing.

Maybe it’s the dark and the light, but while I’ve never felt more thrilled to be heading towards another summer — even a bloody La Niña one — are you also dragging your feet to the finish line, feeling more burned out than ever?

Next year, you and I are going to have a big heart to heart about how to live this one life a little better. The pressure that so many Australians are under right now, the financial fight every week to make it to the next payday, is so distressing that I know families where every consideration is on the table: change of home, work, school — everything.

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