Saturday, September 6, 2014

Like sands through the hourglass...

There's a saying, "Time waits for no man!" and it's very true. The seconds hand of the clock tick tocks tick tocks second by second becoming minutes then hours, then days, then months, then years!

As the years go by there never seems to be any respite to life's rollercoaster. It's already been two and a half years since we migrated from our home in Mangere, New Zealand to Calamvale, QLD, Australia. We've managed to travel back to New Zealand on numerous occasions since we've lived here but apart from having our family and friends there, New Zealand no longer feels like 'home'. With each passing year of time Australia more and more is becoming home to us and while it is starting to feel like home there is still that lingering air of volatility that reminds us that because we migrated here after February 2001 that we will unlikely ever be accepted as citizens here. 

There's just something about living in Australia that I can't quite put my finger on! Perhaps it's a combination of things. Yes the weather is warm and days are beautiful. Australians are even friendlier than I ever expected, sure the Kiwi/ Aussie banter is still prevalent, but on the whole many of them a like Kiwi's - warm welcoming and hospitable. There are still others who are not and some who are openly racist but the multicultural flavour of society has impacted here as much as other parts of the world. The world has truly become what Marshall McLuhan described as the 'global village' and Australian society is no different with its diverse ethnicities that make up communities in Brisbane. The other things I love about Australia and Australians is their psyche. They have a never-say-die attitude to most things and even though there is a generation of lazy layabouts, because of the greater population numbers here they are not as noticeable as they might be in smaller countries. What you do notice are communities of the populous that are actively involved in doing things - sports, shopping, leisure, outdoors, it doesn't matter what your interest is there are always people doing something. There's always activity and whether its an evening at the park with the family or taking the kids to footy, soccer, netball - whatever sport society here is more proactive than in New Zealand where yes there are active peoples but it is not as pronounced as you experience here in Australia, particularly in the cities. People who live here appear to be more actively involved in activity. Even shopping has become an active lifestyle event where people young and old venture to the malls in search of bargains, community and social interaction or even just to escape the heat and enjoy air conditioned malls. I wouldn't call it engagement because many people here do not engage with others particularly if you look different than them. This is perhaps one of the things I like about life here too - people stick to themselves! However if you engage them in conversation they will readily respond. The darker side of this is that sometimes there's a vacuum of interaction and engagement across cultures and ethnicities. 

The Australian coat of arms includes two iconic animals - the Kangaroo and the emu - and almost all Australians understand their inclusion on the coat of arms. Because neither animal takes a backward step this notion is therefore ingrained within the psyche of all Australians and they proudly regal this concept and mimic it in their sporting prowess - from swimming to cricket, to rugby, league and Aussie Rules Football - no Australian wants to be characterised by anything less than stepping up to the mark and having a go, putting their best foot forward and winning. The winning culture is part of their heritage now, it hasn't always been and one catalyst for change was the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Australia ended the games with 5 medals overall. Four bronze medals from Equestrian, Sailing x2 and Swimming and a silver medal from Mens Hockey. New Zealand on the other hand won four medals overall in Montreal - gold and silver in track and field (more on this later) a gold in Mens Hockey and a bronze for the Men's eights in rowing. Those two New Zealand gold medals haunted Australia who had put much more financial resources into these games than NZ had, but what hurt Australia more than beating traditional sporting rival New Zealand in the overall medal tally was losing the Men's Hockey gold to the Kiwi's. The Australian Men's Hockey team were world class and had been outplayed by a valiant New Zealand side. The complete failure of Australia to win a single gold medal at this Olympic Games became the driving force for the establishment of what has become their gold medal winning factory the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). History has shown that Asutralia has not taken a backward step since the establishment of the AIS and in fact have excelled every year at sports since its formation.

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