Normally I’d make advanced apologies for a more reflective, honest and less informative post, but today I’m in more of a ‘fuck you this is my blog’ sort of mood.
I’ve been in Australia for 7 weeks now, and although I’ve never struggled with adapting to new surroundings, I can’t say that I’ve ever felt more relaxed and comfortable in a ‘home away from home’ than I do now.
Those who know me well know that I’ve always got my head stuck in a phone, laptop, game or book. Those who knew me at Uni knew me with a pint in my hand and an inappropriate joke or two up my sleeve. Though what I hope most people know me for is my desire to make people laugh, sharing experiences with people and making them feel at ease in my company. Whether you agree with that or not, it’s what I’m always trying to do because those are the qualities that I admire in all of my close friends.
I feel like my experiences in Australia so far encourage those desires, and I am happier as a result. The culture here is a lot smoother, as though everybody goes with the current instead of fighting against it. In the UK, especially with people my age, I get a sense that people feel trapped or are constantly treading water in one aspect of their lives or another. The weather (although beautiful right now) doesn’t help, and usually ends up with most of us at the pub or in retail therapy. Most of us work for 11 months out of the year for a week off in the sun, and a couple of breaks here and there, yet we’re still living paycheck to paycheck for the most part, without too much of a back-up plan if shit hits the fan.
I know that this is the case for a lot of people, especially people in their 20’s when the economic climate doesn’t exactly encourage the classic ‘buy a house, buy a car, get married, have a kid’ lifestyle choices of the baby boomers. The more I speak to people my age, the more I understand just how lost we are. We’re more wanderers now than settlers, we’re better educated, but less confident, more open-minded and accepting, but more anxious. We’re constantly trying to take the reins from the older generation to accommodate our social and political progression, but although we know the direction we want to steer them, we have no idea where it could lead us or what we do when we get there.
I’m getting a bit metaphorical, and maybe a bit too flowery to be making a statement about where we are as a generation, but this is how I see it right now: I’m not desperately swimming away from the steep drop of the waterfall. Instead I’m sitting comfortably on the jutted rock as the water rushes around it. I might have to get back into the water at some point, but I don’t feel like I’m in any rush to get off the rock.
This seems to be the attitude here. Although I still have my head in my phone and my laptop (and I’m never shy about having a cheeky bevvy), I’ve challenged myself to ride 50km to Fingal Head and back, and I did it and I’m proud of it. I challenged myself when I climbed a mountain with my extraordinarily resilient older sister, and we stood on top of the world because we encouraged each other to go for it. Nothing here is a drama, everything is doable and achievable, there is literally ‘no worries, mate’ because there’s relaxation, patience and confidence in people.
This is just my experience, of course it depends on individual people and I know many people in the UK with the same qualities, but here it just seems to be more widespread. Almost everybody I speak to has climbed Mount Warning at least once, and although it’s an impressive thing to do, it’s bordering on a standard activity because the thought process isn’t “shit, I’m not sure I can do this” or “is it safe?” it’s more “oh yeah, that’d be cool. Let’s do it.”
I caught up with my Dad’s best friend last week who is an incredible guy. Unrelentingly interesting, a skilled conversationalist and utterly hilarious. He is also a bit of a writer himself, so we shared a lot of stories and had a pretty hipster conversation about our favourite writers, philosophy and influences. My Dad once told me that the funniest thing he’d ever read was written by this guy, and I’m sure between them they could write and illustrate a masterpiece of black comedy that only the truly morbid and unfathomably weird would find entertainment in.
I’m spending the next couple of days couchsurfing with him and his friends, enjoying the unique lifestyle of Byron Bay and hopefully learning more about him and my Dad. Our conversation the other day inspired me to delve back into writing with a bit more freedom, reading more of my favourite authors and poets and approaching my own weirdness by diving straight in head first as opposed to easing myself into it and worrying about what people will think of it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my brief time in Australia, those who are from here and those who are here now, it’s that it’s important to be unapologetic when taking on life and enjoying everything that’s on offer.
Thank you for reading.
And if I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night.