I saw an old man with a grubby cardie shuffling across Ponsonby Rd, out-hobo-ing the hipsters. The old man reminded me of my dad, in the years after his stroke, just before he died.
He would have soup in his beard and when I brought him to my place for a cup of tea I would play him Schubert's quintets. My car would reek of old-man-smell for days afterwards. A horrible smell. Yet, now, I miss it. When I saw this old fellow wearing slippers in the street, I cried.
Up until now I'd only grieved for my dad in his heyday - my bridge-playing, formidable, competitive neurologist father. Now I could cry for the other dad, whose pleasures in life had been reduced to shouting at his nurses and eating Lindor chocolates. Sometimes he yelled at me too. Yet I even missed that. Feeling sad was good.
When I was taking 375mg of Effexor (antidepressant) a day I couldn't cry. I couldn't risk it. Then, I needed a break from my emotions until I had enough distance to be able to feel them without toppling into the abyss. Off the pills, now, to feel feelings, even painful ones, was strangely joyful.
It is a peculiar kind of relief to be able to feel enough to cry but not so much to be heading for a breakdown. As Andrew Solomon writes in his Pulitzer Prize-nominated book The Noonday Demon: "When two friends died not long ago I felt terribly sad, but I did not feel my self slipping out of my hands, and to feel just grief was almost - I know this sounds terrible, but in some selfish way it is true - a kind of satisfaction."
I now can cry at everything, so no surprise that I also cried at the last Campbell Live show on Friday. I respected John Campbell's work, but it wasn't just that. I fear, shamefully, I was also crying for myself; a requiem for the career I chose, in an industry that no longer exists.
Oh, I know I have great difficulty letting go of anything (sofas with stuffing coming out, op shop gabardine coats, stoner boyfriends).
I became a journalist 25 years ago as a career because I believed in what we did, in the redemptive power of storytelling.
But these days, I can afford to do what I do for a job really only in the manner of a middle-class matron running a suburban dress shop. If I relied solely on journalism to pay my mortgage, I would have to become a PR person or something.
Bully for me, but I worry what kind of journalism we are going to get if the only people who can afford to do it are housewives who never get out of their Lululemons? Yet a survey last week showed six out of the 10 top-paid CEOs in the world run media companies. I say this not in an eat-the-rich manner to criticise extravagant pay, but as an indication the sector is still profitable, with revenue coming from somewhere.
But while the people who run the companies are heading for the three comma club, the writers who create the content, the people who tell the stories, get paid less and less. I know it is futile to find a single person to blame - "who broke the media?" - but my current jeer figure is Rod McGeoch, the chairman of MediaWorks.
"I'm the only chairman of the National Institute of the Dramatic Arts who refuses to go to a Shakespearean production. I never did enjoy writing in a metaphor," he said to journalist Matt Nippert, who wrote a revealing profile of the man, "tanned and cocky", smugly narrow of mind, conventional of morality and indifferent to culture.
McGeoch proudly declared he may be "the most competitive person in the world". (Actually, come to think of it, now my father is dead, he may be). Still, I cannot fathom that we have such a philistine in one of our most influential media jobs. Philistinism is a form of anti-intellectualism that undervalues and despises art, beauty, spirituality, and intellect. It is dangerous to have someone with so little self-awareness or capacity for empathy in such a culturally important job.
The most powerful and meaningful things in life are not about winning, but about losing and coming to terms with loss. One day, that might be Rod McGeoch, an old man in slippers, struggling to cross the road.
"A walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
But so what, only Shakespeare wrote that.