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Thursday, 26 January 2017

Being Aussie.

Well. We've got Australia Day coming up. There's always a bit of discussion about whether we should be celebrating Australia on this day or not, but I thought I'd talk about something else in this post. Basically, the phrase, "That's just un-Australian." Usually applied to someone who perhaps, isn't fond of meat pies, or isn't much of a swimmer, or doesn't drink beer, or doesn't watch AFL or State of Origin, or isn't a big 'snag on the barbie' fan.

And there are some - well, many, really - people who can get quite passionate about this. Who will really take a bit of offence if you call yourself Australian, but haven't had pavlova. But really - all these things don't actually matter that much. And to me, really don't define what being an Australian is. It's not about shortening every second word, or cussing like a sailor, or having an accent as broad as the Nullarbor.

But there are, to me, a few things that do define being Australian.
Firstly - sharing. "For those who've come across the seas, we've boundless plains to share." We have one of the most multicultural societies you'll see. And I think that's something to be insanely proud of, and something we should keep pushing to grow, not stamp out or be afraid of.
Secondly - friendship. Being there for your mates, your friends, is something distinctly Aussie and awesome. Let's keep doing that.
Thirdly - comedy. We love to laugh. Even though I'll admit we're as likely to laugh at you as with you (which is something to work on), we do it with a good heart. We're good at still being able to have a laugh in the worst of things, and that's pretty great.
Fourthly - stories. We are a nation of stories and storytellers; and this goes back long beyond us whitefolk. We're not the first folks here by a long shot! So many tribes and tongues have been telling stories under these stars for thousands of years before we got here.
Fifthly - freedom. As much as we'll complain about this or that, there are so many freedoms that we have in this country, and opportunities that would be impossible anywhere else.

I think these are things to celebrate, and perpetuate, much more than beer and meat pies. I think these are things that anyone can understand and connect to, and things that I love about this country. And I hope that these will stay true for many a year to come. These are what it really means to be Aussie.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

On Lateness, and Wasting Today.

As in, the late Dent Arthur Dent. Okay, bad joke. Had to attempt to start this off with something light.

I've just heard that my cousin has died.

I didn't know him that well. He lived on the other side of Australia, and we typically went over every second Christmas. This Christmas was one of those, and everyone went over. Except me. I stayed back, because I had my week-long retreat straight after Christmas, and wanted to focus on that. I can't even remember the last time that I saw him. He was about my age.

My experience with funerals and death has been very minimal, particularly compared to what most people my age would know. When I was a fair bit younger, I went to the funeral of my great-grandmother. (I still have one alive. She's quite a fighter.) I was young, and didn't know her much, or understand it that much. A few years later, our dog died. That was pretty sad. The only other time I went to a funeral in the family was for my uncle's Dad, whom I had never met or known before then. More recently, I went to the funeral for a friend's Dad - I knew the friend very well, and their Dad a bit. That was a little closer to home, but still, rather different. So this is - yeah. Kinda my first experience with this. I haven't ever had a friend die before, to know what it's like having someone pass away who's about your age. It hits you pretty hard.

Of course, things keep going through your head. Wishing I had known him better. Wishing that I had chosen to go over for Christmas, had a chance to see him. And then, wondering about how short and sudden life can be. Because it is. There isn't any certainty of tomorrow, for anyone, no matter what your circumstances.

I think that's the thing hitting me most at the moment. Because I tend to dream big - think about things that unfold over years and longer, think about how one day this or that might happen, and my 'big chance' might come around. (Typical Four.) But I think this really says to me that that needs to change. It doesn't mean that I can't dream big - but it means that I need to start acting in today, not tomorrow. Because tomorrow might never come.

And so, each day, I want to try and do one thing. Just one thing - where I can go, if I died tomorrow, or tonight, I'm glad that I did this one thing. Whether it's something to help someone; to make the world a better place somehow; to start a snowball rolling - doing something. And right now, I don't really know what that's going to look like. But I know I need to make a change. Because right now, I'm too busy trying to live in tomorrow, and wasting today.

On a very different note. One thing that I am glad of, is that one day, I'll get a chance to see my cousin again. I don't know when that will be, or what that will look like. But I look forward to that day very much.