Thursday, January 3, 2013
Another year over...
As I write this, it is the last day of the year, 2012. I am not a party animal, so I won’t be out celebrating anywhere tonight. By the time you see this, New Year will be over, and life will be heading back towards some kind of normality after the slightly crazy holiday season.
Although I don’t party, this is still often a time to reflect back over the previous twelve months. I suppose the greatest achievement for me was to write three novels. One is published and two others will be published this year. A fourth is currently in the process of being written, although I admit it is not coming as easily as the first three did. I am hoping that the writing will settle into a nice rhythm when I am finally able to settle into a new rhythm myself. At the moment, life is sloshing around in the bowl too randomly and erratically. Chaos theory is needed in order to identify any patterns that may exist.
I suppose it is telling that what I regard as my greatest achievement has nothing to do with the job I was being paid to do in Switzerland. I cannot claim to have achieved much in that regard, which is a shame. Like so many things in my life, it all started with great promise, but delivered very little. Still, it was a good experience. My time in Switzerland has opened my eyes. It has been different than just being on a holiday: I now have some understanding of what daily life can be like in another place, in another culture. Admittedly, it was a very privileged and perhaps even elite culture. Nevertheless, Australian life is no longer the only benchmark that I have. Before I left Australia, I would probably have thought that I could never live anywhere else; that, despite its failings, Australia was probably the best place on Earth to live. I am no longer so sure of this. I am not as deeply rooted in Australia as I once was. Perhaps in time I will be again.
I think those of us living outside the U.S.A. become a little tired of that country’s claims to be the greatest nation on earth, and its constant lauding of the American way of life. From the outside, it is easy to see the falsity and hollowness of those claims. I think that Australia is not entirely immune to such self-delusions. From the outside, you begin to see more clearly the cracks and flaws in Australia’s façade. I am not going to constantly knock Australia here. There are some great things about Australia and the Australian way of life. But I hope that we can be open and honest about our mistakes and flaws too. There are many things that we do not have right here. For example, perhaps instead of the usual Australian xenophobic response to other cultures, we might try to learn and understand more about them. Instead of the usual, “If they want to live here they have to accept our values and way of life”, which is an understandable reaction, we might just take the time to also learn from them. I think we do, actually, without realising it, and without acknowledging our debt to them. “Our way of life” is not what it was fifty or sixty years ago, thanks largely to the influence of other cultures on ours. Yet we still feel threatened by any new culture or way of thinking that we encounter. New cultures will influence ours, and, in the end, we will almost certainly be grateful for it.