Starry Navel Gazing

There are moments in your life when you have to just stop and think for a short time. Do you ever get those? It could be about times that you need to make a decision about a new job, or buying a new car, or just one of those many “things” that cause you to stop and think.

Tonight I had one of those moments. It actually caught me by surprise, as my evening had been full of fun with some friends, and it wasn’t until that moment occurred that I started to think, not just about that moment and what was happening, but other moments in my life over the past twelve months. Moments relating to my friendships.

As many of my friends and family know, Chris and I had a very close relationship with another couple that had lasted many years (I think over 12 or so). We did everything together, as best friends often do. What most don’t know, though may be aware of, is that friendship ended just over twelve months ago. Without going into the details of why that ended, let’s just say that we simply stopped being friends. When we saw each other, we were courteous towards the other and carried on superficial chit chat, and the like. But as devastating as this change in our life was at the time, we adjusted.

Well we adjusted slowly. What only a few people (i.e. family) really know is that it took us a long time to get over this sudden change in our life. We did try to understand why this had happened, but were never really clear, and the reasons seemed to change each time. There have been veiled attempts to see if the option to re-connect as friends was there, but these were unsuccessful (one of those moments that I spoke of before sent a very clear message to us that the relationship was gone), so you stop trying. It is true that a relationship can end as quickly as it starts, it’s the bit in the middle that determines how long it lasts.

Naturally, when you have a friendship that has lasted so long, your circle of friends is often intermingled very tightly. Chris and I had a core group of friends for so long that we did pretty much everything with, and those friends remain friends with this couple. Again, for the most part, this has not been an issue. While we have never really talked with our friends about how that friendship ended we have tried to keep engaged socially, while working to fill the void that we had experienced. Similar to a divorce, friends are often put in the awkward position to keep the friendship going with both parties, spending time with each and adjusting themselves to this new reality. For the most part our mutual friends did just that, but without really understanding (from our view) why this reality existed.

So now we get back to this “moment in time” that I spoke of earlier. It’s funny how a picture can tell a story (what is the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words) and sometimes the story it tells to one person is not the actual story. Of course, perception is often a veiled view of the real reality, so the story this picture was telling me caused me concern, worry and sadness.

Many of my friends and family would say that I am not an emotional person, which is untrue. I simply choose to shield my emotions. That being said, I value my friendships, and can be very protective of them, which can be emotional at times. The feeling that you have to work doubly hard to keep a friendship makes sense to me, as that is what friends do (in my reality). Of course, I’ve had my reality challenged in the past twelve months with the demise of our other friendship, and this has perhaps caused a more heightened level of concern – which up until this point I have not really been worried about.

So in this picture, there are two friends of mine, somewhere I didn’t expect them to be, based on communications with one of them. Where I thought they should be made complete sense, and was a reason to not join us in our evening with friends. Where the picture put them, told me a whole different story. So here I sit gazing into my navel contemplating friendships and sometimes how they can disappoint you.

Makes you really think.

Thanksgiving

One of the most frequently asked questions I get at this time of year is (or has been), “how does Australia celebrate Thanksgiving?” The simple answer is that we don’t. As Wikipedia explains,

Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a traditional North American holiday to give thanks for the things that one has at the conclusion of the harvest season. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.

This has got me thinking though. Does Australia have anything like Thanksgiving as an alternate holiday or celebration? Given that both the USA and Australia share only a small part of the same history (British beginnings), the similarities (at least until recent years) have been quite small, and the intial interactions with the indigenous Australians was quite different to the one experienced initially in the USA.

It’s important to note that while settlement and colonization of both countries was done by the British, the reasons for finding these new homes were very different, and provide a sound reason for explaining why the USA and Australia are vastly different on many issues. In the case of the USA, colonizers were escaping religious persecution from the British. In the case of Australia, the British needed a place to ship prisoners of the Crown. (This is an overly simplistic view of the history, but the detail is not important for this blog post.)

So after spending a little time thinking about this, and doing a small amount of research on the Internets, I confirmed what I had originally throught. Australia has no similar holiday to the North American Thanksgiving Holiday. (Interesting, no?)

Telling it like it is … finally

For those that didn’t know:

Australian Prime Minister John Howard today for the first time linked the war in Iraq to the need to safeguard the world’s oil supplies.

Howard made the comments in an announcement of defense policy changes, including the development of a closer relationship with China and Japan.

With an election looming in the near future, I’m not surprised with Howard’s announcement, as it alleviates many of the issues surrounding Australia’s involvement with the war in Iraq and his knowledge that Australians are wising up to the reality of the US-led war. The fact that my mother is not voting for Howard’s party this coming election is a real indication of how the tides are turning against the Liberal Party in Australia.