Thursday, February 24, 2011

Decision Time: Michael Buble and the rest of my life

I have a lot to think about right now.  I feel pretty stressed and I'm fighting off the waves of cause and effect that threaten to overwhelm me.  I'm trying to make big decisions about the future and come to terms with circumstances as they are and as we want them to be.  All kinds of things need to be factored  into the equation: there's the fact that I have an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in Psychology.  It would be a shame not to capitalise on that somehow and it might save me years on starting from scratch with an undergraduate degree in an unrelated area.  And there's the consideration of the transferability of any career choice I invest in; I need to be able to uproot my career from Australia and replant it it Canada (looking towards a future where we start a family).  And then there's the personal question of doing something fulfilling that challenges me and that I can enjoy doing as a career.  Will Occupational/Environmental Health & Safety be challenging enough for me and give me the scope to branch out into related but more interesting areas if when I want to change tack a little later on?  If I chose Public Health or EOHS would I be aiming lower than I should be?  Should I ignore my circumstances and choose what I want to do, rather than opt for a choice of compromise weighted on the pull of other factors.  I have to make a decision that could shape the rest of my life and my career, not to mention the effect it will have on my future family and relationship and other circumstances of living.

Today I start a temporary job: helping to set up for the Michael Buble concert at the Sandalford Winery near Margaret River.  The job involves long hours of work and will be exhausting but it is only temporary and allows me the flexibility to allocate time post-completion to more important things, the rest of my life, for example.  I am nervous about this first day of work, of course.  But when I glance at the bundle of considerations, complications, and concerns that I have mentally shelved under "The Future and the Rest of My Life", Michael Buble becomes just another internationally famous artist coming to my part of the world.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cycling discovery: Ambergate Nature Reserve and Emperor Hirohito

Six ante meridiem.  The new cellphone alarm melody that I chose upon the evening before last is unnervingly peppy.  Today we had planned to go for a bigger bicycle ride; inland and away from the beach into a part of the Vasse region that I am unfamiliar with.  We broke our fast on toast and jam (homemade and bought from a little old lady at the local Vasse community markets last Saturday who tried her best not complain about how the authorities had recently told her that she had to stop producing jams and caked for sale unless she met the standards of a commercial kitchen) and saddled up for the ride.

Our route kept us away from most of the early morning traffic and we discovered a new source of farm-direct eggs (four dollars for a dozen at an honesty-box roadside stall out along Kaloorup Road).  The most significant discovery we made on our ride was the Ambergate Nature Reserve: 75 hectares of natural bush land, a small isolated remnant of what the whole plain used to be covered in.  There is a short bush walk that winds its way through the reserve so we will go back in the future to have a better look and explore the area.

I just finished reading H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and found it to be a surprisingly good piece of science-fiction considering it was first published in 1895.  I have moved on to a biography about Japan’s emperor Hirohito (b. 1901; d. 1989) who was also a marine biologist and published several papers, a lot of which seem to concern hydroids, whatever those are.  I’ll read on and see how far from objective the author can lean.

Close to the ocean and almost back home again.

Bike route 816698 - powered by Bikemap 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday morning bike ride

Just another day in Busselton.  We woke up to my cellphone alarm at six-o’clock.  After letting my brain idle for five minutes and blinking at the early-morning light penetrating our bedroom window at light speed, I peeled the comfortable layers of bedding away from me and made a few basic preparations for a morning bicycle ride.

Fortified with two Satsuma (blood) plums and a mugful of water, I wheeled my lightweight road machine out of the doorway and onto the street.  Quiet.  Cool.  Sharp sunlight.  A very gentle breeze chilled me slightly and I lodged it firmly in place as my main motivation to cycle hard so that I could warm up.  I headed out to the highway and crossed over it and then rode through the new housing estate to the pedestrian/cycle pathway that shadows the road to Margaret River.  At the Vasse General Store I took an unfamiliar road striking out left to the west.

I passed paddocks for grazing and vineyards for picking.  The road ran very straight, flanked by tall trees on either side that created a shady tunnel.  A conduit to somewhere.  I cycled until I saw a small old shack, dilapidated and rustic.  Perfectly rustic.  I took a couple of photos and then began the cycle home.  Another day in the world.  Another day of possibilities and perils.  And breakfast.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality...

Like an old song from the 1990s (or maybe it was the 1980s) normality has descended upon me and I find myself sitting in Busselton in Western Australia on a Friday afternoon settling in for the next four months.

My last post on Blogger was yet another report on a cycle excursion through the back blocks of Taiwan.  It has been months and months since I wrote the last post on this fine virtual journal.  I couldn't possibly go on without first explaining to nobody in particular why I may as well be writing about the life of a completely different individual.

I was living and working overseas for about five years, first in South Korea and then in Taiwan.  There are plenty of expatriates who have adopted these countries as their homes for the foreseeable future for reasons I can guess at; perhaps they just don't want to return to their own country; perhaps they enjoy a better standard of living in their host country; perhaps they have an ongoing relationship or have married a resident of their host nation.  These are all understandable reasons and I can empathize with the sentiments behind all of them.  However, in the case of Andrea and I, continuing to live and work as English teachers overseas became an unsustainable future.  These days the word unsustainable immediately brings to mind ecological and environmental associations.  Forests might serve as a useful metaphor for describing what I mean when I use the word unsustainable in reference to our lives overseas (then again, they might not; I haven't really thought this through).  For healthy forests you need a rich foundation (the soils) and an adequate ongoing supply of all the inputs that forests need (sunlight, water, air, etc).  Our roots reach into community to anchor us and keep us upright.  But community was something that we lacked and had a hard time establishing and maintaining in our host countries and we were also a long way away from our families.  And so our foundation was weak.  As for receiving an adequate ongoing supply of prerequisite inputs, we missed easy access to nature and natural environments; we yearned for the opportunity to explore our interests by joining local clubs and making new friends; we lacked for a deeper engagement with the society in which we participated, partly due to a poor grasp of the dominant language and also partly due to cultural differences.  We weren't getting a full and adequate supply of holistic nutrients that we needed to sustain us long-term.  Our forests looked okay at first glance but a closer examination would reveal that there were serious deficiencies and that the forest was not as healthy as it appeared.

One other serious reason for not wanting to remain any longer in Taiwan was that we would like to be able to start a family and be able to provide good support for children.  Being an English teacher might pay the bills and allow DINKs to have some fun but it's not a career move that provides a good foundation for a family.

So we finished our contracts with our respective schools and came to Australia to start the rest of our lives.

There's a lot more to say about all this but it will have to wait because I have a dinner date with destiny.