Milestones and Mindsets
In recent months I 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 remained a constant for me, the […]
In recent months I 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 remained a constant for me, 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.
And, during these “expatriate” years, I’ve experienced life in four different countries – England, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. For me, home is where I live and I can always imagine myself living somewhere else, given the opportunity.
Quite simply I want to see as much of this 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 live across the world.
But, 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 somewhat unusual. Globalisation is really more like glocalisation – the world becoming simultaneously more global (open and cosmopolitan) and more local (closed and reactionary).
Maybe it’s a weakness on my part, but with every passing year I become more impatient with nationalism, with ethnic pride and with the resentment that expresses itself in people’s need to justify the supposed values of their “homeland.”
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 along with deep, dark social problems. That the ratios of one to the other feel different from place to place says more about the moment in history that we inhabit than anything else.
I’m not suggesting that culture, tradition and valuing your historical roots don’t matter, because they do. 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. But, under pressure – of time or circumstance – we always prioritise some over others. We have to make choices.
And, this is my way of saying that I’ve made mine.