The big news for me this week is that I left my job at Up.
It’s not that I didn’t like it or had a falling out with anyone. I actually think it’s a really great place to work. But I had come to a realisation that I was ready to move on and choose my own adventure.
My rough plan now is to try to find bits of pieces of freelance work that don’t take up all of my time and energy. Then to use the space created to try to figure out what I really want to focus my work on. And importantly, to find collaborators. I expect there to be some experimentation along the way, but I want to avoid getting really bogged down in anything unless I’m sure it’s in the direction I want to go.
I have no idea how this is going to turn out, which is slightly scary. I don’t expect the answers to present themselves within a short timeframe, so doing some freelancing as well feels like a pragmatic way to give it the time it needs.
I listened to another good episode of the ABC Conversations podcast (see weeknotes 1). This time it was with Hugh Mackay, a sociologist. His central point was that we should engage more in our local communities, with our neighbours, even if they don’t necessarily look like us or aren’t who we consider our friends. This builds trust, solidarity and social cohesion, which is sorely lacking in the modern day.
One bit I particularly liked was his description of the “quest for the perfect latte”:
The quest for the perfect latte to me captures this idea that when we have lost our sense of ourselves as being communitarians, being social animals, and [instead we] become self absorbed, then of course we feel as though everything has to be terrific. We have got to be really comfortable, we’ve got to be materially prosperous. we’ve got to have the kids in the best possible school with the best possible teacher and we’ll complain if they haven’t. We’ve got to find the best possible coffee, and go on the best possible holiday. It’s a sort of utopian complex which goes along with this idea that it’s all about me.
I finished reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The book recounts his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, and how a sense of meaning and purpose could still be cultivated through immense hardship. (And was essential for survival.)
The book was published in 1946 and has clearly impacted a lot of people since then, so I had possibly-inflated expectations. To be honest I didn’t feel like it affected me particularly profoundly. It was certainly interesting to read about his experiences, but I didn’t take much more away really.
Last night I went to a sold-out screening of The Bikes of Wrath as part of the Transitions Film Festival. Coincidentally, it turns out that I was partying in the same room (well, shed) as one of the producers at New Year, and he was there to do a Q&A.
Anyway, the film is about a group of Australian friends who retrace, on bikes, the route taken by the family in John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath. They set out with very little money and rely on the kindness of people they meet along the way to help them out.
I was pretty blown away actually. The film is funny and heart-warming, but also very moving at times. I was expecting a light-hearted story about bikes and adventure, and there is that, but there’s also a story about immigration that feels as relevant today as it ever was. What shines through is the basic human goodness in the many strangers they meet as they travel through a part of the US that voted heavily for Donald Trump.