The Existential Expert on angst about war … and Sydney Trains

The Existential Expert responds to your questions. Photo: Pixabay/LEEROY Agency.

Our resident expert provides advice to those feeling overwhelmed by the recent traumatic events at home and abroad.

Q: How can I stop the anxiety about WW3 overwhelming me? As a child, I was terrified of nuclear war. These Russia and China political issues are freaking me out. What should I do?

Shelley, Darlinghurst
(via Facebook)

Hi Shelley, 

Firstly, we totally get it – in fact, lo and behold, we feel it too. 

In the time since you wrote this question, unfortunately, the situation has obviously got exponentially worse. 

We’re not going to dunk this shit in sugar. Nor, thankfully, are we going to add to the billion other hot political takes generated in the last few days. 

The plain, dumb, unremarkable truth is that yet another dude has decided he needs to air his balls in public – and innocent bystanders have to suffer.

Be kind to yourself

Our gentle advice is to try and manage your anxiety. Take the edge off the existential dread a little. It won’t do anyone any good to bury yourself in this stuff. 

As trite as it sounds, think about healthy practice.

Spend some time away from your phone, if you need it. Decompress a little. Eat well, don’t drink too much coffee. Go for a run. Smile at a stranger. Drink herbal tea. Dance like no one’s watching. Pat a dog.

Maybe enjoy the opportunity to reappraise your attitude toward minor, even petty, issues. Let them go or embrace them, as you see fit. 

Perhaps this’ll offer relief, perspective. No, your boss or your mother-in-law isn’t equivalent to a brutal, Putin-esque despot. 

On the other hand, maybe they are. Maybe that’s your way to understand the magnitude of human folly – to compress it into a bite-sized chunks of cheesy meaning. 

In this context, as long as you keep them to yourself, making bad jokes is okay. Actually, any sort of tastelessness is fine. Just don’t go mad and put it online (as per below).

Take care of yourself.

The EE

Q: Dear EE,

The trains are always so unreliable, if not fucked, in Sydney and have been for what seems like centuries. 

I have to commute every work day – and particularly last week (on top of everything else going on in the world) when things reached their nadir, I started to despair. Frankly, the experience makes me hate public transport. Can you help me with the existential angst of riding Sydney Trains? 

Terri, Waverton
(via Twitter)

Dear Terri, 

We sympathise with what you’ve been through, with the rail system attaining almost operatic levels of dysfunction.

To avoid being overwhelmed by sheer awfulness, it might help to identify and compartmentalise the issues at play.

In the case of the trains, the problem essentially lies with the politicians. As a general rule, these people don’t like railways. Every bit of them costs money. The rolling stock, the tracks, those surly looking station attendants that always look like they’re waiting for Godot. 

And for what? Politicians (particularly Liberal ones) don’t catch trains. None of their friends do. So who does? Nobody, basically. Worse, the unions are involved. Liberals think unions are evil primarily because none of their members went to the same school as they did. 

Now, this may all sound slightly ridiculous and generalised. But then, hasn’t there been a lot that’s generally ridiculous lately? Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s also rained a lot – and Sydney Trains and rain are like oil and water, or like Prince Harry and the rest of the royals.

Focus your contempt where it counts. When home, allow yourself a solid scream. Then relax: do a spot of gardening, watch an episode of Vera, masturbate furiously or something. And when the time presents itself, vote accordingly.

Don’t blame the public transport that could, ideally, be wonderful. In fact, an appreciation – nay, passion – for trains can be a beacon of hope in this troubled world.


Here is a Southern class 377 running Littlehampton to Southampton Central #trains #trending #fyp

♬ original sound – Francis Bourgeois

The EE

A panacea for uncertain times, The Existential Expert is a forum where the Sentinel will address the essential questions, you – our readers – have posed. If you have a conundrum, whether it’s spiritual, philosophical or just something that makes you break out in a rash, email us at: – or tweet or DM us @sydney_sentinel. New columns are published regularly, on the first Sunday of each month. You can check out previous ones here!

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is no substitute for professional advice and should not be treated as such.

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