A time of change

So Easter’s over for another year. It’s amazing how quickly it’s gone; I was thinking earlier that it’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end of March… the year’s gone quickly, even if it has been the earliest Easter in years.

I’ve always liked Easter. I’m more spiritual than religious but I like the sentiment that comes with the season; it’s a time of renewal and continuing life and it always makes me think of the changing seasons, the leaves starting to brown. It makes me think of where I am in my life as well and I’ve been doing a lot of that over the last few days.

I’ve been feeling like I’ve been needing a change for a while and so recently I applied for a new job. I’m hoping I’ll get it but I realised over the weekend that that’s not the only thing I’ve been frustrated about. I’ve started to feel like I’ve outgrown some of my friendships and I’m not sure how to feel; it’s natural we’d grow apart after ten years but now I’m not sure if those relationships were as important to me as I thought they were.

I also haven’t been feeling well for a few days, so I’ve had a few things on my mind. But then on Sunday everything seemed a little clearer. I guess I just realised that there was no point feeling frustrated any more; the job was out of my hands and did it really matter how I felt about my friends? Those relationships had changed but how I had felt then wasn’t any less real because the feeling had changed now. Resisting the change was stopping me from moving on and I realised I should honour how I had felt in my heart, rather than trying to recapture it.

I’ve always resisted change a little bit, like most people; we’re comfortable in the world we’ve created for ourselves and it’s scary when that world changes. But I’ve always been quick to embrace change once I’ve recognised it and it seemed apt that it should happen on Easter Sunday, right at the end of a difficult week. Maybe the universe was watching out for me.

It seems like everyone is talking about change at the moment, though, doesn’t it? The election has stirred up a lot of those feelings; even if you wanted to avoid the hype I don’t think you could, it’s everywhere. And I’m half the world away; I can’t imagine what it must be like in the US. It’s funny how “change” seems to have become the motto for this election. It’s electrified people, particularly Obama’s supporters, but you hear about change at every election; politicians promise how they’ll be different but usually it’s just a number of empty platitudes. This election is different in that a black man or a woman could become president for the first time but most of the spin is still the same.

One of my favourite songs is David Bowie’s Changes and I came across this video earlier which captures it perfectly, all the candidates wanting to be the agent of change. I thought it was so funny, particularly at the end when they all started singing the chorus! But it’s true, change really has become the theme for 2008 – but why? It’s too simple to say it’s just Bush; I’m sure Bush is a big factor but the changes being talked about are more widespread than that. It’s a number of factors coming together; the economy, housing affordability, health care, gas prices, climate change, Iraq… but are they any different to the issues normally talked about during an election? I’m a bit confused about why the whole “change” theme has caught on so much, except because the candidates are so different and foreign policy.

To be honest the way the entire election is being reported over here is starting to annoy me, though. I don’t like the way the media thinks we have a right to say who we (or should I say they) think should be president. John Howard criticised Obama in 2007 after Obama announced his presidential bid, saying al Qaeda should “pray” that Obama and the Democrats win in 2008. He was deservedly roasted for interfering but isn’t the media being hypocritical? They often talk about which candidate would be “better” for Australian interests and stories like this one on Hillary Clinton hardly seem balanced. Online Opinion even carried out a poll of the candidates Aussies would pick. I know it’s in the media’s nature to speculate but their attitude has to be influencing their reporting – and they’re already biased because of their distaste for Bush.

I think everyone has the right to an opinion on any election, whether it’s in their country or not, but it should be just that, an opinion; the media’s influencing the way Australians look at the election and therefore how we look at the US. I’m no fan of Bush but I will always be a friend of America; 9/11 was a day that changed my life and the attitude that some people have towards America now disturbs me and doesn’t all come from Bush… it says a lot about us and if we’re talking about change, that’s something I’d like to see change about us as well. Maybe this election can be a catalyst.

I think the candidates need to careful about all this talk of change. If that’s what they promise and in the end little changes, they’re setting themselves up for a backlash. But even if there is change, that doesn’t mean it will be noticeable right away; change takes time to implement and often you only see it later, looking back. As the David Bowie song says – time may change you but you can’t trace time.

So anyway that’s what I’ve been doing over Easter, making some changes. I hope you had a good Easter and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of posting and commenting again after a long break. And oh, if you’re a Bowie fan like I am, there’s a great clip of Bowie singing Changes live available here; just don’t blame me when it gets stuck in your head. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “A time of change

  1. cjwriter, I just wanted to let you know that although I don’t comment here. I enjoy how thoughtful your writing is. I have you on my blog surfer so I never miss a post.

    I wish I could put my thoughts down as well as you do.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know what a wonderful blog you have here.

    CJ: Hi beadden, thank you so much for the kind words. Blogging is an amazing experience and the dialogue between the community is very rewarding; it inspires many of my posts and knowing there are people who are interested in what I have to say is wonderful.

    Writing is a very personal thing and I agonise over every word before I publish it. I’ve read a couple of your posts and there are so many bloggers I admire… it’s amazing seeing the different voices around the blogosphere.

    Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it and the compliment. I’ll be popping by your blog again later. 😉

  2. Gosh, lots of material here, ceej. I’m sorry you have been unwell, but glad you are better. Sometimes illness contributes to introspection, don’t you think? Oh, new job, eh? I send you good thoughts and wishes for that to happen. One wonders if you’ll tell us the kind of work you do if so (of course I should talk…) There’s certainly something going on, and it’s apparently not limited geographically. I was semi-ill for a couple of weeks, and grouchy, too, which is really not like me. And I’ve been evaluating some relationships, too. Amazing. I feel I’ve outgrown some of my friends, and even some family members. I don’t mean this in a superior sort of way, but that we’ve grown in different directions. It can be hard to acknowledge and come to terms with this. So, change is in the atmosphere.

    As a US citizen, and knowing you are not and are far away, I was actually stunned when you spoke of “The Election”. That’s certainly what my fellow countrypeople would call it, but when I first read it here, I wondered “Is there an election going on in Australia right now?” Then, it quickly became clear that you were talking about “ours”. I’m not into the “USA as the greatest country in the world” philosophy as some are—your focus on our election would not come as a surprise to some of those. But it did make me realize how much influence the USA has in world affairs, and I’m really not at all comfortable with our image as a world power. I think diversity and cultural richness make our world a vital place. I heard a radio program which interviewed people from several countries about which of the “top 3” presidential candidates they’d most like to see win. My first reaction was “Why would they care?” But, in fact, they did. Some folks had a rather detailed analysis about why they favored their candidate. Some of them had figured in how the outcome would affect them or their country, but a surprising number expressed their opinion about what would be “best for America”. Golly!

    As for me, I’d tend to agree with you that “The Election” likely will not cause real change; at least not “real soon”. I tend to think that any outcome will be better than the administration we’ve had recently, though. It saddens me to hear some of the opinions about “America” from Brits and Aussies; Canadians and New Zealanders. I tend to think of other English speakers as cousins, in whatever country they reside. There are many, many of us, and some of us are really nice folks! I’m glad you are our friend, cj!

    Loved both the videos. The candidate one was really good; I liked the end where they each said one word of the lyrics “time may change me…” etc. And I shall indeed blame you for “Changes” being stuck in my head now. It is a cornerstone of my philosophy to hold others responsible for the thoughts that come into my awareness. (Nah, not really. But you knew that). 🙂

    Best of luck with all your ch-ch-changes.

    CJ: I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Muse! I thought people in the US might be surprised that the election is getting a lot of coverage overseas. It’s not the first thing you’d think other countries would be interested in, but the truth is it’s the main story of the year no matter where you live. The US is such an influential country and we’re so closely aligned that it’s always a big story… the main difference is that it’s being covered a lot earlier and with more detail than usual.

    It’s probably natural then that we’d follow the candidates like everyone else, but what bothers me is this attitude of thinking we know what’s better for the US than you do. It’s insulting. I mean we’d be upset if hundreds of Americans or Brits suddenly said, “You know, it’s time Australia became a republic”, so why should the reverse be any different? It’s fine to have an opinion, pick a candidate, but I’d love to see that attitude change.

    We had our election in November last year and that was very much focused on change too. The opposition won after ten years and promised a lot of changes… so far little has changed apart from a few policy differences, but change happens over a period of time, and that’s the thing the US candidates need to be careful of… make too many promises and if they don’t come true, their promises seem empty. But I guess that’s all part of running a campaign.

    I have a lot of friends in the US, Muse, so I’ll always think of the US as a friend! It’s where I had my first publication and we have a lot in common with the US… I think it’s a wonderful country and I’d love to visit one day. It’s just sad hearing people saying spiteful things but the vast majority of people don’t believe it. I know I never will.

    Glad you enjoyed the videos too. I love David Bowie and I’ve always got one of his songs stuck in my head. That video of him playing live is amazing… btw, I work in data entry, doing transcriptions and things like that… pretty boring but it lets me write. Hopefully I’ll get this new job but if not I guess I’ll just have to find my ch-ch-changes somewhere else. 😉

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Muse…you’ve given me some ideas for a new post. Now I’ve just got to get back to posting so I can write it. 🙂

  3. Glad that you are wanting to get up and go for that change, CJ – as me ol’ Dad used to say “A change is as good as a rest”.

    With reference to the US election – it is a matter that America needs change, not wants it – but needs it desperately, I just hope that the US voters come out en masse and vote.

    PS, I am supporting Obama. 🙂

    CJ: I love that saying, Will – I might have to steal it! Sometimes a change just reinvigorates you and the way you look at life… that’s how I feel at the moment.

    I think change is something every country needs, in a way. If society doesn’t evolve and change then it stagnates and that’s when society starts to crumble. Whether the US needs change is really up to the public, so I hope they come out and vote… based on the feedback it looks like the numbers will be pretty good.

    I like Obama too, though he’s a little inexperienced… guess that’s what VPs are for. 😉

  4. Hey CJ,
    Sorry to hear you were feeling under the weather – hopefully you’ll be feeling better soon. Hope you get that job if that’s what you want. As to friends and how relationships change – it seem inevitable – people change and so their relationships will too, don’t you think?

    I find it interesting that your country would be at all interested in our elections. I know that you Aussies are an opinionated bunch, like we Americans and I like that about you. In fact, I love the Aussies I know – very straight from the hip and candid. My kind of folks.

    As for ‘change’ being a theme for a politician running – it’s about as ordinary as dirt on a farm. Of course, they are going to use a term as general and all transforming as ‘change’ since then it can mean whatever the listener wants it to mean. But it’s nothing new – it’s the same theme that is used election after election. And really when you think about it, what else would they suggest, since they are asking you to change one guy’s position so that they can have it?

    And I am one of those Americans who thinks that America is the greatest country in the world (no offense) and happen to like George Bush. He isn’t the monster that he is made out to be and I do believe he will one day be vindicated.

    WC

    CJ: Thanks, WC. I’m starting to feel better now. I haven’t heard more about the job yet but I’m still hoping I’ll get it… if not I’ll just have to try something else. Maybe I’ll do a course, if I can afford it.

    You’re spot on about how relationships change with time… it’s inevitable but I guess we all resist it in some ways. The reason it caught me off-guard was that I’ve known them for so long and it’s strange to imagine not knowing them, but independence is important to me as well… I think it’s just a matter of taking some time and if they ever need me, I’ll be there for them.

    I thought it might surprise people in the US that we’re covering the election as well. We find your process very interesting, but the US is such an influential country that it’s the main story of the year no matter where you live… it’s the attitude some people have that they know what’s “best” for America that really annoys me. It’s insulting and we’d hate it in return, so why should it by okay? What’s next, letting us vote in American Idol? 😕

    Change has always been a theme in elections but it just seems like it’s everywhere at the moment… our election in November dealt with it as well and I just don’t see why it’s caught fire as much as it has, particularly with Obama’s supporters; he seems genuine but inexperienced. I’d rather see candidates run on issues rather than themes, but that’s just wishful thinking.

    I think every country thinks of itself that way, WC, and I’m a huge fan of the US. I’ve made a lot of friends there and I think what America stands for is beautiful. I’m not a big fan of President Bush but that’s purely because of policy; it certainly doesn’t affect the way I see America or Bush as a person. It upsets me when people say hateful things about America; it’s terrible and just damages legitimate dissent and as a friend of the US, I hate hearing it. But there will always be people who don’t like what America stands for… at least you’ll always have many more friends around the world, and I hope you’re right. The world would be a much better place with a stable Iraq.

    Thanks for your insight, WC. I’m sorry I’ve been offline for so long to reply but I really appreciate it. And by the way, why are those WP blogs getting book deals and you’re not? It’s criminal. 🙂

  5. How interesting is ur post, CJ…Here in Canada Easter means ”spring” is coming and for Aussie ”autumn” is at the door but true in this time of the year we all kind of need changes wherever we are in the world…Muse is right that sometimes people don’t have a good opinion of Americans and I have experienced that thru my travelling…Even some American folks would travel with Canadian flags on their backpacks or we go along travelling with Canadian and/or Aussies… I believe that it’s not the people that have a bad reputation but the country as such due in parts to the media manipulation …

    CJ: You’re right, CV, I’ve often thought how it’s funny that we can be so connected because of the net and yet be going through such different times of year… it’s like that at Christmas when everyone’s talking about a hot meal and Aussies just want a salad. It takes some time to get used to but then it also teaches us about different countries and different people… perhaps that’s the first step to a larger community.

    It’s awful when people feel like they need to hide their nationality. No one should have to deny who they are. America is a beautiful country and just because someone doesn’t agree with policy doesn’t mean they have a right to be so abusive. I’ll never forget the day after 9/11 hearing people saying the US had deserved the attacks and that just made me feel sick… it really says more about us and I hope that attitude changes.

    The media doesn’t help either but I guess that’s one thing that’s in our control, to change the channel… I know I do that a lot. 😉

  6. Speaking of which: I’m sure you’ve seen this by now. I saw it here, but it’s causing shock waves all over the world! Our pres and your prime getting a little too cozy, are they? Sheesh! People are squirrely these days. I casually salute friends upon occasion, just as something different from a wave. How much should we read into this?

    CJ: It’s ridiculous isn’t it, Muse? A complete overreaction by the media. I mean, what’s the big deal about a salute? I do it too sometimes and two people who just met can’t have their own dynamic going on? The media’s just braindead sometimes.

    I feel sorry for Kevin Rudd over this; he’s received all kinds of flack but it’s more to do with our last PM and how people felt about him than anything to do with Rudd. Guess it must have been a slow news day or something. 😕

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