Richard Pilnick

Where do we go when we disappear?

What risks would you take if you weren’t so attached to your name, face, physicality, reputation? Can you imagine being known simply as an imprint of kindness and goodwill?

Three things in my life keep these questions alive on a daily basis. The first, having a near death experience after my liver transplant in 2013. This gave me a lasting understanding of the inherent temporality of all living things. Knowing this helps to keep my ego in check and focus on the things that hopefully make a positive difference in the world. It’s a constant negotiation of being human (fallible and often times misunderstood), but this is balanced on most days with humility, humour & forgiveness. I make a lot of mistakes! Apparently that’s how we learn.

The second is menopause. Never in my life have I felt more irrelevant, out of date and sidelined than over these past two years. I have glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel when menopause becomes an empowering moment of shedding false pretences and getting down and dirty with what’s real, but there are still some storms to pass before that becomes my day-to-day reality. For some women it may be a non-event, but for me menopause has raised some of the same challenging issues as adolescence: who am I? Do I matter? How can I stay true to myself without alienating other people?

The third is mothering an autistic child. In learning of my son’s special needs over the course of this year I have been blamed and shamed in an environment of exclusion by the school and parents alike. The upside of this is that it has given me purpose and clarity to be present for my son, who needs me as a mother, friend and advocate; who deserves to see that showing up despite and because people don’t understand you builds strength and courage.


While my son and I would both prefer some days to hide under cover, our lesson is that sometimes being seen is the only way to make lasting change; to speak up, stand out, strip away instead of cover up.


After all, in order to disappear, we first need to appear. That, I guess, is when the magic happens.