In the early 1990’s almost everything stopped. In Melbourne, tram drivers abandoned their iconic trams in the middle of the streets where they were to stand for almost two months like icons to a broken system. The then State Government had fucked up badly had to sell the state bank to the federal government. There were rumours that the government had stopped paying insurance for their tens of thousands of workers, and in shopping centres everywhere shops is simply closed the doors and called in the receivers.
At the same time I left school and then quickly deferred university to travel and write the great Australian novel. Everywhere I looked there was desolation and poverty. Like all 18 year olds i was a fan of The Beat Writers and spent long days trying to write like a Jack Kerouac, and drink like Neal Cassady. I didn’t know at the time they were having a secret affair. Knowing that would have blown my mind and perhaps forced me to discover Fawkner and Hemingway a lot sooner. Tough times required a robust hairy chested fiction that didn’t fuck around with adjectival bullshit. It said what it needed to and then punched you in the face.
Things seemed entirely broken or in the process of breaking down. As I wrote in my journals and slowly learnt the lesson of work, I couldn’t see a way out. The economy was broken, my parents had no money, my friends had no money, and I had stopped talking to the ones who did. As I stood in the dole queue with my failed application to clean toilets scribbled down and led a life of a St Kilda flanuer change was an abstract concept over another horizon. Change was for someone else.
Then slowly things did begin to change. A new government was elected and money started to flow into the state, the trams started running, I got a job and started back at university. Change is not always easy, and when caught in the middle of a maelstrom it isn’t easy to see a way out. The answer is to say No. By refusing to accept your current circumstances you draw a line in the sand and create a new worldview and the hope that things will change for the better.
In the latest US Presidential election, Barrack Obama was saying, “We know what change looks like.” the problem for him and the Democrats is that people didn’t really know what it looks like, or if they did, they didn’t like what they saw. That there has been positive hangs in the first four years of Obama’s presidency is without doubt. When he became president, the US economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. In the latest numbers 171,000 jobs had been added in the previous month. That is a a pretty impressive turnaround. The problem for most voters is that cannot see the change because they are focussed on the 7.1% unemployment rate, the massive deficit, the 112% debt to GDP ratio.
Being open to change is the one of the hardest things to do, particularly as you get older. Most people say, well yeah, I love change, I am flexible, freethinking and sophisticated. Change does not scare me. YOLO. These same people are often the ones to shoot down a new idea, to tell you that the iPad is a stupid device and will not sell, to complain about the weather, to find themselves in a pattern of habitual mediocrity. Change is hard. Seeing is is harder. By being open to seeing the possibility of change, to witnessing the incremental shifts in consciousness that can makes things better life can be immeasurably improved.
The novel is still being written and eventually I went back to university to complete two degrees. I find myself with a senior role in an Internet business, working in an industry that thrives on
change disruption. Staying open to change and being honest is what enabled me to thrive in the face of recession, debt, health issues, family dramas, and the chaos of a industry continually transforming. To be open to change requires a vision, a mantra that keeps you from closing off to the world around you and the endless possibilities of life.
I’m forming a new vision and focus for 2013. What are you forming?