Writing on, and about, an island

Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

Goodbye, Group Think. Hello, Independent Thought

In Tasmania, Writing on February 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

I am allergic to FebFast. I am also allergic to religion, unions, sunscreen and anything else that peddles mass guilt to the guilty masses… It’s also why I have an ongoing struggle with Facebook (my time on there is doomed, I think).

I have come to my own conclusions about these quasi-religious social projects… and those conclusions do not align with my belief in independence and the fundamental differences that should be respected and revered in humans.

FebFast, as a timely example, is designed for people who need validation, the pat on the back, the relief from guilt that comes with doing something – very publicly – that is popularly thought of as acceptable, expected and desirable social behaviour. I don’t think this is a very sound reason for doing something, however good.

Think I’m harsh?

Consider the fact that all those people signing up to FebFast could do the exact same thing – abstain from alcohol/donate money – on their own terms. Quietly, without requiring other people to get involved or applaud them for it. So… why don’t they?

Want to do something that’s good for yourself or the world? Then do it because and only because you thought independently about it, not because you have been sub-consciously guilted into emulating others. Want to do something that other people say is incorrect/not the done thing, despite the fact it wouldn’t hurting anyone else in the doing of it? Go ahead. It’s your life.

There is a well-known scientific experiment of mob mentality, of group-think, involving monkeys, a banana and some cold water…

To be or not be a monkey? Hmm.

Mob mentality is what I disliked most about Tasmania while growing up here. Look at our politicians, the jobs for the boys, the way we dislike anything that challenges the status quo. Tasmania is a place where independent thought is so rare, that those who have it are championed as geniuses (Richard Flanagan*, for example – certainly a great independent thinker, but not, I would argue, a genius). Tasmania’s mob mentality is what I ran away from. But, inevitably, I find it’s still here on my return. I’m not running from it this time, though.

By all means, do good things for yourself and others. But don’t do things just because everyone around you is doing them. Just because something is popular does not make it right for you. If nothing more, think a little harder when you’re tempted to be conscripted into doing something ‘good’ – into joining someone else’s cause – just because everyone else is doing it. Instead, start your own cause.

 *RF, speaking recently at a wake for respected Tasmanian arts patron Dick Bett, said: 
“For a moment it seemed as if gathered there that night was the Tasmania you dream about – brave, gifted, open, laughing, free. I don’t know if we’ll ever arrive at that Tasmania.”

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4 New Years on an Island

In Career, Freelance, Island Life, Tasmania, Writing on January 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

What will island life in 2012 bring? Living in Tasmania has been, at times, very hard. It’s three years since I moved from Sydney, and this bloody island has challenged everything I thought about myself, my career, my purpose, what matters to me…

Why are islands demanding?

Why are islands so linked to artistic endeavour? Maybe it’s the isolation, maybe it’s the natural physical boundary – wrapped in a coast, an island presents the potential for complete exploration, and people always have a need to define their surroundings. It’s akin to collecting: collectors often desire things that are limited, because there’s some sort of possibility of completing that collection.

The above is a pretty accurate description of what living on an island means to me (I’m sure the Mercury won’t mind me paraphrasing myself).

Of course, I wanted Tasmania to challenge me, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t also wanted to throw in the towel.

So, prompted by the fresh western New Year (and tomorrow’s Chinese New Year), I’ve had a think about what each year in Tasmania has taught me.

For better or worse…

… 2009 was The Year of Recovery and Mistakes (and Magic)

I landed in Tasmania an exhausted, burnt-out thing. The preceding couple of years had been emotionally and financially debilitating. I was so tightly wound, I even had to learn how to sleep all over again.

As a prodigal son, I also made mistakes. I tried to transplant my Sydney way of doing things into Tasmania. My high expectations, my way of doing things very fast… not the most successful approach. There was a lot of friction. Oh, and I was fired for the very first time in my life.

Which, as it turns out, did me a favour – I launched my MADE Tasmania business not long after. I also started, and paused, my Masters (as one of the many fumbling ways to try to work out what I wanted to be doing).

The magic part of 2009 came in getting married (to someone who is the support and inspiration I didn’t even ever know I needed).

… 2010 was The Year of Consolidation and Learning

New year, new full-time advertising job.

And the clear decision to clear debts. I was on a mission. So, 2010 was a blur of full-time and freelance work… Seriously, I don’t really remember much but the fact I was working every minute. However, in hindsight, it was a year where I put down some solid foundations in the search for freedom, even if at the time I wasn’t sure what I was peddling so hard towards.

And yes, I did clear my debts. A little closer to freedom…

… 2011 was The Year of Frustration and Questioning

What. On. Earth. Am. I. Doing.

I spent the whole year asking this, in-between spinning like a mouse on a wheel. I was working hard, still managing a freelance business while working full-time. Trying to finish my novel in snatched moments. There was so much stress, and not enough time spent with my new family. The year was a whirlwind of doing – but doing for others, mind you. There was nothing I was genuinely doing for me. I said yes to a squillion projects, hoping that one of them would show me what I should be doing, yet none of them did.

I got to the end of 2011 and realised every day had been spent in a state of responsibility and commitment. No personal creativity or expression, no free weekends, no reflection, no sweet spots of getting lost in something for the simple joy of it… Everything I did, I felt obligated to do. When prompted, I couldn’t even think of one thing I loved doing just for the sake of it.

BUT it was a massive wake-up call to even realise this, to realise I was reincarnating my Sydney habits all over again, and it propelled me into having a good hard look at myself and my life.

… 2012 is shaping up to be The Year of Freedom

Ah – the Year of the Dragon (which I am; a Fire Dragon actually). My year? I’m going with that.

Only 3 weeks old, and 2012 has already brought breakthroughs of beautiful clarity. Clarity in how I want to respond to the world around me. Clarity in my purpose for being here. Just clarity for the sake of clarity…

And that is such a weight off my shoulders.

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