First thing to remember is I was born, raised and educated in the United States. Up there in the left hand corner, in Oregon. A smallish town of about 8,000 when I was growing up named Grants Pass. Look it up on Google Earth if you want. I can’t tell you how this community came by its name. The only Grant I ever heard of was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and one time president. Historically speaking, he never passed through that little valley. Guess it doesn’t matter. But this really has nothing to do with this grumble other than the fact that I was brought up to think in a certain way. North Americans do, you know.
People outside the US shouldn’t hold that against them but they do, and it’s understandable. Norte Americanos don’t have a clue. Anyone of them who have never travelled outside the boundaries believes they live in the center of the universe. Actually they think they ARE the universe ... every other place is there to serve them, make their shoes, cars, shirts and kung fu movies. Oh, and pick the beans and peaches out in the fields. Mustn’t forget that.
It’s interesting to hear Australians who have travelled to the US talk about Yanks. Why, I’m asked quite frequently, don’t Americans understand the rest of the world? Of course this question only comes up after the Aussie asking it finds out I too am an Australian. Dual citizenship, you know. Other than giving me the right (duty?) to vote in both countries, it gives me the insight on how those crazy Americans think. Yeah, right.
Australians travel, that’s a fact. Probably not as much as in other places but on a per capital basis a helluva lot more than folks living in the US. That’s a big part of the reason Yanks have such a myopic view of the world. If it doesn’t happen in the US it isn’t important. I believe that type of thinking, just like the North Americans view on gun control, begins at birth. Nowhere else in this world do people love their guns as much. Well, you might want to argue that people living in places like Afghanistan or Columbia are as gun happy but I don’t think the common man on the street in either is likely to be packing a S&W .38 in a hip pocket. The drug lords or insurgents in those countries might, but not Joe or Josephine Q. Public.
Another thing that is totally different for people growing up in the US is their belief in freedom. That’s what I’m talking about today. Freedom.
What do you think it is? What comes to mind when you say or hear the word? Well, since moving to Tasmania I’ve come to realize it ain’t what I thought it was.
One of the reasons I gave when someone asked why I’d want to leave the subtropics for the colder climate of Tassie was the trout fishing. The world class trout streams and rivers down here on the Emerald Island. Another reason is fewer people. Queensland, unless you’re living somewhere out in the bush, is filling up. Folks are all the time moving north from Melbourne and Sydney to get away from crowds and cold. That means that the best living areas along the Sunshine Coast is changing. Prices going up, housing difficult to find, and what there is becomes more and more expensive. But one of the main reasons I’d be quick to explain for my relocating is freedom.
Why do you live where you do? Because of family? Employment? Thinking back over my life I realized every move I ever made was for one or the other of these reasons. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t all bad. Just once, though, I wanted to go live where I wanted to live. I wanted the freedom to choose exactly where. So it was off to Tasmania.
It only took a week or two before I made my discovery about how erroneous my vision of freedom really is. I had given it a lot of thought on what exactly I was looking for. My list wasn’t long, a two or three bedroom house in a small community, somewhat close to amenities such as a super market, library, good internet access and most importantly, a tennis club. Oh, and within an hours’ drive or so to the Mersy River. A fly fisherman’s dream. Okay, go back to that Google map and check it out; there are dozens, maybe even a dozen dozen smallish communities that fit that list. So which one?
Well, having the freedom to choose, I took a road trip. Town after town I drove into, looked over, checked out and in a number of them even stayed the night. Town after town, village after village, I somehow wasn’t satisfied. Some were old and looked older, others old and proud, and still others ... well, not one of them made me feel at home.
So where am I going with this you ask? The thing we all forget, that is those of us who always felt that “freedom” meant being able to do what you want with no boundaries as long as it doesn’t adversely impact anyone else, is that there is no such thing. The lesson I’m learning is that all those times I moved for other reasons, other than simply saying I want to choose, is that one needs limitations. One needs to have more than “just because I want to”.
Yes, within the criteria I laid out I could live in almost any place I want. BUT without a better reason none of those places appeal to me. Or to put it another way, anyone of them would make me happy after I’ve lived there a while. Think about it. Every time I moved to a new town for a new job, or moved to a new country to be close to my daughter and her family, I was neither uncomfortable nor comfortable with the area. It just didn’t matter. Plus once I was there and settled the place became ‘home’.
There you have it ... my frustration on learning there is no such thing as absolute freedom, not of choice nor do I expect of much else. A decision is always easier made if the choices are limited.
I think I’ll move once every six months for the rest of my life and not worry about making a decision. Now that would be a different color of freedom, wouldn’t it?