He traveled “down under” to learn about the culture. And learned a lot about kindness and gratitude.
For five years I lived in Australia. I traveled to Australia intent on gaining a deeper understanding of the broad and vastness of diversity as it’s understood down under. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and expand my ethno-cultural kaleidoscope.
I experienced the Melbourne cultural melting pot consisting of; Indigenous, Italian, Greek, Maltese, Lebanese, Chinese, Macedonian, Jordanian, Jewish, Ukrainian, Sudanese, Eritrean, and so many thousands of cultures blending together cementing the dynamism of Victoria, Australia.
I saw Kangaroos boxing outside my office window for 9 months. [Yes. Roos. Boxing.]
I drove down part of the Great Ocean Road. [Breath taking.]
I attended more than a handful of Aussie Rules Football matches. [Go the Saints!]
I dined on Lygon Street and ate possibly the best pasta in Victoria [Delicious.]
I speak Australian slang fluently, albeit awkwardly, considering my unmistakable American accent. I know what it means to crack the shits and how to avoid a sticky beak. Of course some problems are too easy while others belong in the too hard basket.
And I know that Good On You is a stronger way of saying thank you, or congratulations, or good job.
However, the memories which flood my mind the most are the random and not so random acts of kindness I received during my time down under. Through my time down under I realized that travel is less about natural and human made wonders and everything to do with giving and receiving compassion.
How many times has someone said to you, “Just call if you need anything?” I heard these words from a car salesperson as I was driving off in a newly bought Holden. Six months later I was moving house and made that call. One hour later he showed up at my place with a friend and a trailer. Two hours later my place was packed up and I was moved into the new unit. He refused to accept money, but agreed I could shout the first round of drinks next opportunity.
Good on you my friend, for doing the heavy lifting.
To the man I literally ran into at the shopping center who engaged me in a two-hour discussion about cultural diversity; educating me on his home, the Torre Strait Island, and the history of racial oppression down under and ending our talk by exclaiming, “We are your brothers here.”
Good on you for making Australia feel like home.
To my colleague; your continued generosity, understanding and support assisted me through the most difficult times. The advice, morning teas, the lunches and dinners, your willingness to correspond even after I wrongly dropped off your radar for a year — your friendship was instrumental to me throughout my time down under.
Good on you for your companionship and support, next cup of Jo is on me.
To my fellow myki commuters taking the train from Melbourne CBD to Craigieburn, Mooroolbark and Werribee; good on you for leaving the Mx paper on the seats, scooting over to give up the aisle seat or saying hello as a brother walked by. You made the long commute to and from work enjoyable. Keep paying the love forward, because it’s often the small acts of kindness that make the biggest difference.
To work colleagues said words of praise in my presence as well as my absence.
To those who supported me in silence when you could not do so audibly.
To anyone I hurt who found it had the courage to be forgiving.
To the staff member at the Pilates center who was always generous with your time and never ceased to have encouraging words.
Good on every one of you. Your compassion made all the difference during my stay down under.