Note: I have been thinking about this in the wake of recent events in Brussels. I wanted to capture how much I appreciate ‘my’ everyday, how much I appreciate my freedoms and liberties. I’ve been thinking about how proud I am to live in a country that shares these freedoms and liberties. I’m proud to be an Australian. I guess I just want to say that we do things for the ones we love – usually our family, and family I think is something we all agree on is pretty darn special. I’m proud of our everyday, of our differences and our diversity. I love the kaleidoscope of stories that I pass everyday on my way to work.
Every morning I weave in and out of traffic, passing hundreds on their way to work. They’re all moving forward, all contributing, all doing their bit, doing their bit for Australia.
There’s Araceli, and she’d be mid-40’s at least. The backseat of her small car holds a collection of buckets, mops, a vacuum and cleaning solutions. She’s counting the jobs she has today – 6 in total, that’s 6 x $25 per job. She doesn’t earn much, but she earns more than she would in Manila. She’s working hard, she’s moving forward, moving forward for herself, and for Australia. She turns off the highway and Cindi takes her place in the traffic.
Cindi, or Zhang Xiu Ying as noted on her birth certificate is driving her parents to their Chinese restaurant on a busy strip in a trendy suburb. They’re arguing because she has an Australia boyfriend, and she tells them it’s love, and she tells them he’s not going anywhere. She knows things will be ok, and she knows in time all well be fine. They bicker in a combination of Mandarin and slang English, but they’re moving forward, and they’re working hard. They’re moving forward for Australia, and they pull off the highway, where Deng pulls onto it.
Deng’s dark, dark skin is offset by his fluro orange shirt, his muscular arm dangles lazily from the driver’s side window. He’s on his way to his factory job, where he’s got a nickname and he’s got his name monogrammed on his bright fluro shirt. He’s off to that hot, dusty factory where the men are rough and rude, but they’ve got his back and he’s got theirs. He’s moving forward, he’s working hard. He’s doing it for this amazing country called Australia, and he’s doing it for his family. He takes the inner-city bypass, where Khalil whizzes past on his way to a small office on the outskirts of the city.
It’s Khalil’s first day in a small law office. Six months out of law school, hundreds of application letters, dozens of interviews and handfuls of rejections later, and he’s finally got his foot in a door. It’s not a glamorous office, and the work is local conveyancing, wills and estates. He’s been itching to wear this itchy suit to his first day at the office for three years now, and he’s proudly wearing a beautiful new silk tie his wife bought him. He’s finally moving forward, and someone’s finally given him a shot. He’s moving forward in this country called Australia, and he’s moving forward for his family. He excitedly takes the exit towards the outskirts while Wendy zips past on the way to a park.
Now Wendy has an esky full of sandwiches and a furnace full of coffee. She’s got a box of surgical gloves and a bag full of bandages and antiseptic and wipes. She’s off to a shady park where a small congregation of down-and-outs are milling about. She’s there for the dispossessed, the stolen, the beaten and the broken. She’s there to make just a bit of difference to these weary souls, to move them forward, to tell them Australia still cares about them, that she still cares about them. On the other side of the park there’s Rita, juggling kids and school bags and coffee and life.
Rita’s bundling and jumbling her brood, three sets of heavy school bags, three sets of matching hats, three drink bottles, one hockey kit, one set of drumsticks, one clarinet and the gear for swimming after school. She’s racing to school, then she’s racing to work. She’s doing it all because she knows the value of education, and she knows the value it brings to a family, a community and a country. She’s pushing forward, moving forward. She’s doing the hard yards for the things, and the ones, she loves.
And then there’s me, and I’m on my bike, wrapped in my helmet and jacket. I’m moving forward, but weighed down with a heavy heart. I’m thinking about the enemies of freedom, the haters of liberty. I’m thinking of my family and the ones I love. I’m moving forward, thankful for the Araceli’s and the Cindi’s and the Deng’s of this country. I’m thinking about the Khalil’s and the Wendy’s and the Rita’s of this country. I’m thankful that we’re on this highway together, building a life, building a country. I’m hopeful that when the time comes, when our freedoms are squeeze and our liberties challenged, that we forge ahead on this highway called Australia.
I’m thankful that we’re all on this highway, all on this highway together.
Picture from: http://www.motorcycleclassics.com/~/media/Images/MCC/Editorial/Blogs/Vintage%20Motorcycle%20Auctions%20and%20Results/Rare%20Bmw%20Factory%20Racer%20And%20Vincent%20Isle%20Of%20Man%20Winner%20Added%20To%20Las%20Vegas%20Motorcycle%20Auction/1947Vincent-MortonsArchive_%20jpg.jpg?la=en