Zen & the way of the backpacker:
Beautiful stories here:
Personal insights on being alive, musings and thoughts on the Universe
On teaching at University:
Tales from the Bardo: Madame Pickwick's lifetime dispatcher agency. A travel agency for planning your next life (incarnation) on earth,
I used to try and maintain a blog here myself, now I've moved to ready made ones on Blogger and Wordpress. Old fashiones single page blogs on this site are below...
i found the following on a piece of paper, at a trendy Middle Park noodle shop in 1999:
"Then he reads from Sterling Hayden's 'The Wanderer':
" I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it. What these people can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the demands of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a person need, really need ? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment.
That's all, in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up entombed by mountain of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim while they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where then lies the answer ? In choice. Which shall it be, bankcruptcy of purse or bankcruptcy of life ? "
what really interests me is that reading this again, after having gone overseas, I find it no longer appeals to me as it once did in 1999. It is no longer a question of poverty VS adventure VS life. Poverty is not good or bad in itself. What matters is how I use what I have, wherever I am. My personal challenge is: do I use it for myself only or for the greater good as well ?
what I liked about expat life...
(from an email to 'S') - from an email exchange with a friend
S, You expressed dismay when I suggested that life outside Australia
could be a tempting proposition. Let me put down some fo the
attractions I experienced in the past:
Social life as an expatriate was much faster, more ALIVE, and
full of new and unknown opportunities.
As an Engineer
I like to put numbers on it and would say that as an expat the
degree of community acceptance and social knitting with neighbours,
work mates, local shops, church or club etc... is about 4 to
5 times faster than normal life in Australia.
In 6 months as an expat I had achieved a degree of social integration
and networking, knitting and linking that took me 2 to 3+ years
to achieve in Australia.
especially I found this to be true. After 6 months I was a '
golden oldie' in the expat circles I moved in. I knew the ropes
and helped others. I didn't feel that kind of community connection
even in 3 years of working and studying and living in Melbourne.
I made in Japan were no deeper nor shallower than those I made
from living in Australia.
only one instance of this speeded up social interaction phenomenon.
I have noticed this in every place I lived overseas.
Lifestyle - " the foreigner"... the 'gaijin' the 'falang'
the outsider... this appeals to me for some reason. Admittedly
I have had good jobs overseas as teacher and engineer, as well
as volunteer and as a backpacker.
of being outside the dominant society is something I have enjoyed
as an expat. I have never really had any desire, or hope, to
be accepted as a local. I have enjoyed the respect, the curiousity
and the freedom to look at a society from some small distance
as a quasi outsider.
it has its drawbacks because some societies see you as a white
imperialist, as Mr Moneybags, or a "backpacker", but
there are ways to live with that, and to blend in (e.g. when
travelling in Thailand, I dress such that as even as a tourist,
I am 'mistaken' as an expat, once I have achieved that level,
I am satisfied that I have hit the right mix of dress and casualness
3) As an
Expat I see that Australia is only ONE of many universes... It is good
to be able to stand back and see Australia with an outsider's
eyes. I see:
a) an insecurity bordering on hysteria - any risk however slight
is used by parties with ulterior motives to manipulate people
like a herd of panicked cattle... Having lived in a city where
a few small bombs went off (nothing really big), eaten in a restaurant
that was bombed while I was in it, walked on uneven sidewalks
with yes shock and horror not just slight unevenesses one could
trip on but actually holes could fall into... given that background
the current milleu of fear in Australia seems out of proportion with the real problems of the world.
b) money and showing off,
as almost a national religion: forget egalitarian virtues, I
see all around me Australians looking to get rich, retire
and have others serve them...- are we still interested in 'a fair go for all ?'
to walk around and be admired for their wealth, power and prestige,
- this is normal but it is hard to accept that it is normal in the place I come from - I guess it is really just my problem, I used to think in Oz we were different...
time outside Australia gives me the eyes to see this.
craze: this is part of the fear and insecurity I mentioned above:
everyone is afraid of being sued and insurance companies and
lawyers are feeding the fear. People no longer look at legal
compensation as a legitimate redress for injuries, but instead
look for ways they can sue and make their fortune and retire
and and be served by others...
and injury is a kind of gold digging or playing the litigation
lottery. This is not a good thing for the greater Australian
slight uneveness on a concrete path can be used to sue if one
trips and injures oneself. Compare this to the risk of driving
a car, crossing the road.- get real man, what planet is this
All over the city trees are being chopped down 'just in case a branch drops on someone...' - Are there not more important things to worry about ?
me to the last thing I have regretfully noticed in Australia:
Fault finding: everyone has to blame someone, no unpleasant
event can be left as part of life itself. There must be someone
to sue, (and make money out of it, and retire, and be served
by others etc...).
are expected to create laws and rules to prevent any bad event
like that from ever - ever - ever happening again.Or if it does happen again it will be because some by-law was broken and then it's is someone else's fault.
Do I want to be consumed by these things ? do I want
to be driven by these things without knowing that there are
worlds out there where these things that seem so totally engulfing
here are as nothing ?
I want to
see and live in other places that provide a different view on
Well there you have it, that's it in a nutshell for "why
I enjoyed expat life" and how I feel about being back.
last updated on:
26 April, 2009
© 2003-2008 heiko