Well the kids are home from school for a three day long weekend for Australia Day (January 26th) and it is raining too much to visit our boat in the marina. Everyone was fed dinner early almost as soon as they got home from school or day care in Charlie’s case.
Stayatworkfatherofthree was in the new crib searching the Internet for a custom furniture maker in our area to make a simple round 8-seater banquet table with lazy Susan, when Charlie started her normal twilight whining and shouting, so I took her from my wife’s arms. After a little cooing and color crayons, I realized my search was hijacked. I had to engage, resistance was futile, as they say.
So with more crayons and an exercise book left over from Bravo’s 2017 school stationary quota, she was happy to lie on my desk just as Alpha did eight years ago in my first Bangkok office and Bravo did two years later when I was babysitting during work hours. Loosely scanning the online newspapers and wondering when the rain would stop enough to decorate our boat with Aussie bunting and national flags, I was hijacked again.
The very woman who started, and succeeded, with Australia’s change campaign to have a postal vote on same sex marriage was suggesting, rightly, to have the concept of Australia Day changed to be more respectful of the original people of this land. Same sex marriage candidates represent close to 11% of our population whereas the original population prior to European settlement represent 2.8% of the census.
Back in 2008, the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave a legendary speech taking Australia’s decade old ‘National Sorry Day’ quantum leaps toward reconciliation and meaningful unison of all present citizens. That day I sat at my top floor office computer looking out across Hong Kong harbor at a population also colonized by the same armies, with one eye looking at the online video of the speech. His words brought tears of faith in humanity and my colleagues had rarely seen me blubbing at my desk. Regardless, the mood was set and less than a month later I met Stayathomemotheroffour and my heart was still full of love for all and faith in all nations.
My Father for as long as I can remember had always told me the main difference between Europeans and indigenous in Australia was that the former marked out plots and said “this land belongs to me!”, whereas original inhabitants had a more scientifically accurate refrain of ” I belong to this land.”
So this evening, my daughter has unwittingly taken me on a path to sensibility and without any desire to celebrate our Nation’s date of taking custody of these shores from the original inhabitants, as was so much the custom in past centuries and how present borders have been drawn. In fact she has taken me right back to my Hong Kong days where it was my devote practice to work in the office on public holidays so my Chinese colleagues could enjoy time with their families.
Those were the days I enjoyed empty streets and a quiet building without interruption or delay and my best ideas would arise. Freedom to create new strategies and file away at my own pace. I was single then and exploiting the path less travelled. Reaping great financial rewards and thinking I was the only one. That is until last month when we were back in Bangkok and one of our American neighbors mentioned most of his luck and riches have come from working when other people are enjoying a public holiday. If any thing, my own reasoning has been largely that you can exclusively take any incoming sales enquiries.
More importantly though, it has always been more a lack of interest in resting or partying for the sake of it. Two years ago I firmly told our founding Partner that Stayatworkfatherofthree does not need any government gazette to tell him when to take a rest from work. He agreed wholeheartedly and admitted to doing the same.
While tomorrow most of Australia will wear anything with a flag or our Olympic colors and all the nation, even the 2.8%, will wish they were never born anywhere else and love this country as much as anyone. Most of Australia will also be drinking, some to celebrate and some to forget and commiserate.
You can bet I will be at my desk and hopefully my daughter will be there and I can teach her nearly three year old psyche that we belong to the universe and this planet does not belong to any of us. That is if her brothers can stop arguing about who owns which toy!