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Blog // Adaptability
February 21, 2012

Milestones and Mindsets

I recently celebrated two important anniversaries; the day when, as a young child, my family arrived in Australia from Chile and the day when, as an adult, I left Australia, in early 1999, to start a new life in London. While the first of those dates has constantly been significant, the latter had taken on […]

I recently celebrated two important anniversaries; the day when, as a young child, my family arrived in Australia from Chile and the day when, as an adult, I left Australia, in early 1999, to start a new life in London.

While the first of those dates has constantly been significant, the latter had taken on increased significance in recent years. As of this year, I’ve lived more adult years outside of Australia that those I lived in the nation where I grew up.

During these “expatriate” years, I’ve experienced life in four different countries – England, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Home is now where I live – not where I was born or where I grew up.

And I can always imagine myself living somewhere else, given the opportunity.

Quite simply I want to see as much of the world as I can. But I don’t want to see it like a tourist, visiting for a short while, then jetting “home.” I want to live in different places and let them change me, getting under my skin, while I try to understand the way people in that place life.

As much as I enjoy being able to experience life in this way, the harsh reality is that the life I (and many of my friends) live is unusual. Globalisation is really more like glocalisation – the world becoming simultaneously more global (open and cosmopolitan) and more local (closed and reactionary). Not everyone participates in the global economy the way I do and the benefits of that aren’t shared equally.

Maybe because of this with every passing year I become more impatient with nationalism. Ethnic pride or national pride just feel like expressions of resentment as people justify the supposed values of their “homeland.” There’s always an enemy out there, or living within like a parasite, an enemy in here.

My father has a saying, which roughly translates to “there are idiots everywhere.” OK, it’s not the most poetic motto, but I live by it. Every place I’ve lived (and visited) has beautiful and talented people who can offer the world something wonderful. And all those places also have deep and dark social problems. That the ratios of one to the other feel different from place to place says more about the moment in history we inhabit than anything else.

I’m not suggesting that culture, tradition and valuing your historical roots don’t matter. It’s just that they don’t matter as much as we’re often coated to believe. I’m also not about to suggest that everyone should live the way I do either.

But, I do believe that most of us can only manage to stay true to a handful of allegiances. We all have a different mix – family, friends, faith, society, nation, sport, culture, art, work, hobbies and so on. All of our identities as as rich and complex as we’re willing to make them. Sadly, we are sometimes pressured to make choices that limit that self awareness.

And, this is my way of saying that I’ve made mine.

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