The outliers story
My name is Nathaniel Hodges, I grew up in a working-class family that originated in Walgett, a small country town roughly 3 hours west of Dubbo.
We then moved to the coastal town of Ballina NSW for my schooling. Throughout my time in Ballina, I had many great times playing all the sport I could
and making my teachers’ life interesting. I was very disruptive and not focused but always managed to make the teachers smile, an average student at best. My first non-ordinary experience was on a golf course at age 15 when I felt as though I left my body and did a complete lap of the 18 holes in high focus detail. When I returned to my body, I felt a humming afterglow that lasted a few hours. I also experienced many rough teenage years, losing my father to suicide at 16 yrs old, my mother coming to terms with her changing sexuality, and having another older female move into the family house. I buried myself into intellectual pursuits and physical training to keep my head on straight, I felt frequent existential dread and would take extreme risks surfing, snowboarding, traveling and weightlifting just to take the beige and depression out of my life. My thinking was ‘I don’t mind if I die, things can’t get worse’.
While at university at the age of 21 it was revealed that the father I lost was not my biological father and that he was a different man still alive.
I finished up university/ post-grad and began teaching at uni while I used the strategy of extreme risk-taking again but this time it was in business and property. I started a few business endeavors directly against what everyone was telling me, yet they flourished and grew rapidly. My sense of self inflated to extreme levels and eventually, it all collapsed, a rapid collapse of everything I had created. I lost most relationships, large amounts of money, assets, and any sense of who I was. In the background I was constantly studying philosophy, spirituality, transformation, religion, and psychology at university in an obsessive way, even at times canceling or moving clients because I was writing something that I couldn’t let go of or reading something that wouldn’t let me leave it.
It was a Wednesday when it all came to bear on me, an experience on the beach that lasted only 6 minutes that changed me forever. Everything that I had experienced and not properly worked through came knocking and wiped me out. The epiphany was that all my endeavors had not been with pure intentions. All the study, money-making and relentless attitude towards life was an attempt to balance the scales of my turbulent inner world. This started a 2-year process of regression, where every day was a roller coaster. Psychiatrists, psychologists, healers, ceremony’s, travel, experiments, plants, complete and unrelenting, psychological pain, torment, dreams, depersonalisation, and extreme enduring emotional stress.
It all came to a stop in a park in the western suburbs of Brisbane when I was 29. For the previous month, I was the worst I had ever been. I had no functional capacity for work, friends, or anything that required energy output. I was laying on my side utterly confused about how everything had accumulated to this moment of desperation.
I was watching the inflow and outflow of my breath convinced my body had decided to give up. It was the only logical reason I could come up with for such a helpless state, my only option left was to go willingly.
As I took what I thought was my last breath I was thrown into a different universe.
The world around me looked visually the same but the texture had completely changed. It was luminous, flowing, endlessly deep, mutually creating and consuming, perfection in motion. The same as the golf course when I was 15 but with clarity and purpose.
At the risk of a monumental cliché…
Just being alive was enough and eternally satisfying.
I had 6 hours of pure experience in all its glory without any desire, need, or worry. A real peek above the clouds to a place that is always there where the moment and infinity are the same.