It’s Sunday, Second of March 2014.
I’ve already been living in Sydney for 2 months – how time flies!
My pad is a shared flat above a Persian rug shop in Rozelle. I’ve been really lucky with the location as it’s on the main bus route, so I can grab a bus any time of day and be in the centre of Sydney within 5 minutes. It’s just at the ‘non-city’ end of the Anzac Bridge so I can cycle into work every morning with inspiring views that stretch round to the North shore and Harbour bridge.
My original plan was to secure my second year Working Holiday Visa and start my own business in Australia. I got head-hunted in November for a job doing enterprise SEO – I would have been stupid to turn down (and so far – I am glad that I didn’t).
I have (in a sense) dipped back into the corporate world – but this time it allows me to gain experience doing SEO for the biggest companies in the world. I have to say, I am actually really enjoying the role – it is a lot more theory-based than previous (hands-on) SEO roles I have had. It’s more about identifying granular SEO that can be presented and packaged and developing a concrete strategy and roadmap for these colossal corporations and their websites. It wreaks of opportunity, learning and self betterment – three of my favourite things.
After a mostly non-intellectually stimulating year in 2013 (working in a bar, renovating and doing regional mining work) I now feel so much better mentally. When you go any length of time without using your brain – it really suffers in capacity. But the good news is (I don’t have a degenerative disease) that my brain is back and I can critically think and do mental arithmetic again, hooray.
I honestly feel that this is part of how most people meet their end. They stop using their brains, become addicted to sugar and bad food and get caught in a downward spiral that’s fuelled by mind-numbing television.
Anyway, the reason for this post is that – I wanted to share a realisation I had:
Life can change in an instant and you can help it change. You can be one person one day and then a totally different person the next. A lot hangs on the perception of the environment and the optimism that takes you from one place to better place.
When I first arrived in Sydney in September 2013 – I had no money, I was staying in a hostel in Kings Cross and I did not know how I was going to achieve my 88 regional work days to get my second year visa.
I would procure everything – taking my time to buy foods from only certain places and only eating certain things (because I had to ensure I was paying the cheapest price for everything) and eating what I thought was healthy (yet cheap) food to keep me going. I remember going without and not buying things I wanted because (in my mind) they were just to expensive. I took the same roads and routes around inner Sydney and I walked and existed in the same linear way.
Kings Cross is just East of the central zone and each day I would walk into the city from the East and perceive Sydney from a Easterly direction. Darling Harbour was just a bit too much of a nice walk away, New-town was not cost effective and North shore was a different country.
I rated (and weighted) certain areas of the city in my brain and I sneered at the business people in their suits and envied the guys in the gym and the people spending leisurely time.
Then, I got a flight to Sunshine Coast and forgot about Sydney for 4 whole months.
Ever since coming back for the New Year, I now approach from directly west of the city. I travel through Darling Harbour everyday and now Kings Cross is the place that seems just a bit to far for a comfortable walk. My perception of the city comes from a west-ward facing direction, I use the roads and routes that serve my commute from the west-side and with my ten trip bus ticket (and newly purchased bicycle) I can go anywhere I please.
I work Monday to Friday on Pitt street down near Circular Quay. I buy coffee from anywhere I like and I get my lunch from wherever I please. I do not look at prices and receipts and if ever I need anything I buy it (without questioning anything).
Most days I leave the house at around 7.45 and don’t arrive home until 9.00pm. I go to the Virgin Active gym which is probably one of the best equipped gyms in the world.
I buy clothes (that I like) when I want, and anything I don’t wear anymore goes to Vinnies. I have free-reign over consumerism – I am typing this post on the Chromebook which I purchased today for ‘blogging’.
I had a huge realisation with this dichotomy 2 weeks ago, when I took a wrong turn and ended up in Hyde park (where suddenly it hit me how very different things are now compared to 4 months prior).
My job enables money, but the money only enables participation in the consumer paradigm. Although convenience is nice and very “convenient”. I would not say it has directly resulted in a higher state of happiness or a better quality of life. For example, I am still ‘single’ and don’t have a close family, let alone any culture. Finding and receiving the love you want is something that money holds no bearing over. ‘Maslow’s Basic Human Needs’ start at the bottom of a pyramid..
I’m not going to reject corporate consumerism and go live in a tree in the remoteness of the outback – this is the first job I actually enjoy that is mentally challenging. I love the energy of the city – it makes me feel alive and I also love the convenience that helps a ‘seemingly’ healthy lifestyle with all the different foods, gym and super-food smoothies at my fingertips.
Corporate living [or (incorporation) as it were] is like a climbing a ladder that’s caught in an updraught. The higher you climb the more the draft helps you, making the rest of the climb even easier. But what is the end game?
It’s like when you build a tree house or den as a child. Once you have built it – then that’s that – the challenge is over. You either want to go build a bigger and better tree house or do something different. I think that no-one is ever truly 100% happy and the brain is wired up to always want to pursue endless challenge. A bias that keeps our energy focussed on cyclical monotony.
Essentially, we are Donkey’s following carrots, except (for us) the carrots are lit dynamite sticks and we have the ball and chain of a finite lifespan and consciousness as part of our predicament.