Now that I have been traveling for many years, I often feel funny when I say I am Australian, or this is where I belong.
I feel like I’m staking a claim on being something that I have no right to stake a claim on. And then I feel like a traitor for not staking my claim.
Patriotism has diminished inside me, as I feel there is so much worth celebrating about so many other countries as well. And why should I ignore that just to promote my own country for the sake of being the “best in the world?”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my country and culture and really enjoy sharing it.
The response by Queenslanders to the latest floods in Queensland, have reminded me just how wonderful our ideals of mateship and “getting on with it” are. I am so proud to have that as part of who I am. But I don’t want to only be Australian.
Let me just preface what I am going to say by saying these are my thoughts based on my experiences written for what I think is a audience who is already or intending to travel like Craig and I have. I don’t feel badly towards anyone else who chooses not travel, as I know their life experiences may lead them to the same conclusions by alternative methods, which are just as valuable. ( Don’t you just love these disclaimers!) Phew! I’m exhausted.
As I have travelled and have been welcomed into many parts of the world, I have felt my world expand and the definition of my home and who I am has changed with it.
I am not just Australian, or a daughter, or a mother, sister or brother. I am every one of those things, but I am so much more that often can’t be defined or pinned down to one thing.
And why should it? I am constantly evolving and changing. What works for me one minute, might not the next and I enjoy allowing myself the freedom to change with this and I hope that others grant me that as well.
So when I say I am Australian, am I really? What does that mean?
Yes, I was born here. Yes, I love it. But, I love the braais (BBQ’s ) in South Africa more, and I love Thanksgiving more than Christmas, and where I used to say rugby league was the hardest and best of all football codes, I’ve since found out I love American football and soccer just as much.
How can I now say that Australia is the most laid back country in the world, when in South East Asia, an opposite way of being just doesn’t exist?
But, I do still think it’s hard to beat an Australian beach or an Aussie summer, and Aussies are some of the most friendly people in the world. Oh, and we do rock at sports!
I don’t want to live in the town I grew up anymore, not because of anything other than I want to live in other places more. I want to keep exploring the world, and continue to broaden the essence of who I am.
I am not just Australian anymore.
Just because I have changed, and my spirit does not want to own or be owned, does not mean I am any less lovable or important. All I am doing is what life intended me to do–to grow and expand.
With that expansion into a wider world, I grow smaller so that I may be able to more clearly see the bigger picture.
The longer you travel, the more you realize that you are part of something so much bigger. This in turn shrinks you, making you so much smaller. You realize that you are not the most important thing in the world, nor is the life on your lot of the street.
…Or maybe this is just known as growing up, and it was travel that helped me to grow up.
You realize that your small part is connected to other small parts held by the small child in Africa begging for water, the old woman carrying the rice upon her back in Asia, the Pakastani who owns the corner shop in London, and your warm American friend who invites you into their home for a glass of wine. Even though each of us may be backed by a nationality, we all coexist within our interdependent bubble of humanity.
The wider world, and the smaller me, means I can look at my problems with different eyes. When I look at them from the wider world perspective, they really do seem quite small.
I can ask
“Well how does losing that job opportunity compare with the 8 year old child in China who must help toil the fields to keep her family alive?”
My wider world is so much bigger now that I hate saying I belong to a nation, or a family, or anyone belongs to me. This is not true. No one belongs to anything. We are all a part of something so much greater than our individualism. We are all parts of the whole, and those parts need to work together.
I can’t stake an ownership in anything, be it views, property, country, identity.
While I might express my views as I see them now, I can’t own them as they may go tomorrow and be replaced with something different.