Open up to people: authorDoug Conway
“I’ve never lost anything from having a conversation”
Personal tragedy led Lech Blaine on a journey to becoming an author, and encouraging young men to appreciate the relationships in their life, open up to others and engage in difficult conversations.
In 2009 he was one of seven boys who piled into a car in country Queensland but never arrived at their destination. The driver made a routine error that led to a head-on collision. Three of his friends died and two were left in comas.
He walked away unharmed physically, but he used alcohol to numb his grief while secretly spiralling into depression.
Trinity students, parents and teachers were given a personal glimpse into his story, Car Crash, when the popular Books@Breakfast series returned for the first time this year at the Arthur Holt Library.
The 30-year-old guest author spoke of suffering grief and survivor guilt, and how he eventually dealt with his demons through therapy, writing and taking on tough conversations with his friends and the families of those involved in the crash.
“Savour the relationships in your life,” he told Trinity students.
“Be willing to take the risks in opening up to people. It’s not just deep and meaningful but there’s lots of funny stuff with it.
“Be vulnerable with people. I’ve never lost anything from having a conversation. There’s something beautiful and beneficial about doing that on a regular basis.
“A lot of younger guys are getting the message, for example in dealing with mental illness, and seeking professional help.”
He said issues being discussed more openly today, such as mental health, attitudes to women, and toxic masculinity, “weren’t conversations I was having in high school”.
Research showed teenagers now were drinking less, and engaging less in risky behaviour, “maybe because they’re addicted to their iPhones”.
“It’s a long way from ideal but it is changing.”
He said a backdrop to the tragedy for him was “needing to prove myself as a bloke”, to take risks, get on the drink and get into an overloaded car.
“I wouldn’t declare the death of the larrikin just yet but it is changing,” he said.
“You don’t need to make a choice between being a son, a brother, a larrikin, or an artist. You can be all of those things. You don’t need to pick a side. We’re all walking contradictions.”
Library staff were thrilled to be hosting Books@Breakfast again, and Stefanie Gaspari, Director of Library Services, said: “It never ceases to amaze me how many people are willing to get up early in the interests of reading. We are committed to growing a culture of literacy.”