I coaxed my focus away from an empty daydream and turned my desk clock to face me, 03.43am. I sighed. Fourteen hours until my thesis deadline. I’d been awake for 2 days straight, finishing the references and drafting a conclusion, finding myself more frequently than not, held hostage by micro sleeps. My thoughts falling adrift for a moment, seemingly, only to discover that I had been staring into space, my mind lost in a vacant vacuum, no recorded thoughts, for nearly half an hour at a time. I wondered to myself if this is what it feels like for Buddhist monks when they achieve a deep meditative state. Have I accidentally mastered the art of meditation through my catatonic fatigue?
I’d reached the ground floor of the Cairns International Pullman Hotel. It was mid-October and just rolling into summer in Queensland, I stepped over the threshold into the main foyer and was hit by an abrupt cloud of air conditioning. I was early to rendezvous with my sister (an incredible novelty for me), wondering through the reception a grand space with a marble floor, luscious soft furnishings and dangling, meters-long chandeliers. I eventually sank myself into the plush seating and winced at the sun reflecting on the blue and white balloon-arch, leftovers from the Scottish International Rugby team ‘welcome party’ the night before.