A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

"You'll love it here, and never want to leave!"

Life in Australia is easy. Social support structure, small population, minimal violence and international conflict (in Wikileaks, the US describes Australia as a "rock-solid" and uninfluential ally) make it quite comfortable here. And, as my Australian and ex-pat friends have been discussing, creates and attracts a number of vanilla custard-type people used to "the good life." 

Considering Maslow's Heirarcy of Needs, basic human rights are biological and physiological needs, governments are meant to meet safety needs, social and societal community structures strive to fulfill belongingness and loving needs, education to supply esteem and cognitive needs. And then you reach art, "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination." If what gets you out of bed in the morning is being the world's best ballerina (here's hoping you stay saner than Portman in the Black Swan), then as long as your lower needs are met, I suspect you can find a way to do that Thing That Brings You Joy. How else to explain the numbers of persistent unpublished poets and unsponsored athletes and even stay-at-home parents?
Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. There are so many examples to help us realise that making money or earning accolades is not a reflection of how good you are at what you're doing, or its value to yourself and society. Money does make it easier to take care of yourself, and if basic needs are already cared for (ala Australia), money can increase quality of life so you can explore arts, a sense of self, etc. I work with and for many who struggle to gather the basic flour, eggs and water, much less have an oven to put a custard into--all while my life "struggles" are choosing flavours of icing and toppings. Because of my stability, I'm lucky to be able to focus on my art. And if you're reading this, you're likely also lucky enough to be in the icing or whipped-creme zone, too.

What I see with some vanilla custard types here is a lack of upward momentum, a getting somewhere stuck between esteem and self-actualisation, and resulting feelings of elevated entitlement. For example, unlike many Britishers in the news lately, I do not feel entitled to free university education in any subject. (On the other hand, unlike the conservatives in the US trying to dial back heathcare, I do think a measure of such care is a basic need the government should ensure and that no one should go into debt or avoid achieving health for lack of money. This also does not seem to me in society's best interest, if you think what the person could be doing if feeling well!) 

It's all relative. There was a study recently that once you earn above $75,000, your happiness actually decreases or stagnates. The theory is, if you want a new pair of shoes and you have to save for it, or go back later when it's on sale, you remember the anticipation, and when you do get it you have that story and excitement every time you wear it. If you're really wealthy and you just buy it because you look at it and like it, you don't appreciate it as much, you don't have a story, and you didn't reflect whether you really wanted or needed it. What I wonder with easy living, is whether people don't think about moving up the heirarchy because on a metaphorical level if they want the shoes they get them. Why consider even fancier shoes when you and everyone around can get nice shoes if they want?

Saturday night I sat in Federation Square watching the Australian Open on the big screen, snacking on carrots and hummus and chatting to friends. Walking to the train, my friend commented what a beautiful night it was, to which I replied, "Yes, and I love my life!" I do. I'm also all for national pride, and am tired of people telling me how much I'll love it and want to stay here. I do love it. I am here, and I chose to come. And, Australia, I do not want to stay for good. No offense (or offence). I'm enjoying our time together, and for what it's worth, I don't think you're uninfluencial at all. It's quite an antidote to South Africa, which I also adored.

If I'm Goldilocks, after all of this travel I'm thinking more and more that home-basing in the US will feel juuuuust right. You can test your fit into gross national happiness here. I'm a solid 35/35. Here's hoping you are too, and blessed to pursue whatever your art/heart desires!

Posted byValerie at 11:53 AM  


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