Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The Great Ocean Road

On Saturday we had ourselves a grand tour of the Great Ocean Road.
We left home close to noon time, and had our lunch break at Torquay (I tend to pronounce it Turkey). The location was great: a restaurant right next to the great beach where we could sit in the shade but enjoy the views. The food, however, turned out to be very ordinary yet extraordinarily expensive, too. Dylan, however, was quite happy with a short play on the beach side grass.
We then moved on to Lorne, passing through the great scenery that the Great Ocean Road offers. There is something that makes me sad about this road: the scenery is so majestic and so overwhelming, but I cannot find any way in which I can capture this magic on film. It's just so expansive no photo can do it justice, and it goes on and on for hundreds of kilometers!
At Lorne we had our desserts and coffee, and Dylan had another play on the grass side beach. Then we headed back, got home after 20:00 - way past Dylan's bed time - and had ourselves a real hard time getting Dylan to sleep. Part of it was to do with the corruption of his routine - the guy seems awfully sensitive there - but most of it was probably to do with him teething.

Now, the purpose of this post was not really to tell you about Saturday's Great Ocean Road adventure. There was nothing really unique there. The purpose was rather to discuss what that road means to me: The Great Ocean Road has a lot to do with me choosing to live in Australia. I was so impressed by it that coming here and driving down this road with my MX5 or riding it with my VFR became the number one targets of me moving to Australia. I distinctly remember emailing my friends this quest of mine, saying that I would drive my MX5 down this road while listening to this song that mocks the Israeli army. There are not that many places in the world other than Melbourne that have a road as magnificent and as long as The Great Ocean Road next to them!
I was supposed to be able to financially achieve this goal by finding a job suitable for a hotshot like me. After all, I was a hotshot in Israel, where the population is only six million; surely, there will be lots more opportunities for me to show my hotshot-ness in Australia, where the population is twenty million. Or so I thought at the time.
I was wrong, big time. Granted, Australia is bigger than Israel, but it also doesn't have anything that can be referred to as a high-tech industry. In Israel high-tech represents 20% of the national GDP, and Israel hosts giant high-tech companies of its own (Amdocs, Mercury, Comverse) and giant arms of gigantic international companies (say, Intel); in Australia nothing like that exists. All IT stuff is limited to servicing the IT facilities of big companies that use computers but only as simple users - things like financial institutions, insurance companies, and government; and that's it. There aren't any software or hardware companies that are worth mentioning, certainly nothing with thousands of employees.
This meant that after more than five months of unemployment, shortly after arriving to Australia, I would take any job that was offered to. Screw the hotshot in me, I needed the money and I needed to do something with myself.
Indeed, I ended up with a job in which I wasn't doing half as much as I used to, at least as far as challenges are concerned, and which payed about half of what I was used to. Progress seemed and still seems impossible: there's this xenophobic aura that says that if you moved to Australia you must have done it for the money and for your professional career, therefore anything you did before coming here has to be inferior; it seems inconceivable to people that coming over to Australia meant significant financial and career sacrifices both for Jo and for myself. With time, however, I learned how to enjoy this new vocational status of mine. Sure, I earn less, but I get to work less than eight hours a day and then I have my own life; I am no longer a slave to a company.
The dream further disintegrated when I went to a Mazda dealership to try the MX5. As much as I craved the car, I simply couldn't fit in. Some things were just not meant to be coupled together, and the MX5 and myself were amongst those things.
When I look at it now, this dream of riding a bike and driving a sports car looks like an idiot's dream. Are those the things that would have made me happy? I don't think so; they're like trying to cure depression with antidepressants instead of addressing the reasons that cause the depression in the first place. Today I think I can safely say I am now happier than I ever was, and I don't even want a bike or a sports car; if some were to fall down on me I would sell them to repay the mortgage without the slightest hesitation.
When I discussed this old dream of mine with Jo, she asked me if I'm not upset at her ruining my dream: after all, those were a single person's dreams. Thing is, she was the one that meant I didn't need to fulfill those dreams in the first place. After all, what are a single person's motives other than, excuse the typical bluntness, an attempt to make oneself more attractive to the opposite sex in order to increase the probability of reproduction? While exotic cars and bikes may be attractive to some, they're definitely not what I would consider valid pillars for substantial relationships; those impressed by such things belong far away from me.
The fact that us, Jo & I, going together on a Saturday, by the whim of the moment, and traveling our way down The Great Ocean Road, together, is all the dream fulfillment I require. Thank you very much.

Almost none of my initial coming to Australia plans were fulfilled, but that's fine with me because I am now a different person than I was before. Coming to Australia with Jo ended up also being my coming of age.
The Great Ocean Road is a glorious road, and Saturday has been a glorious day.


pseudowife said...

The passion of my youth was to own a Monaro. My dream was submerged in the demands of marriage and motherhood in my early adult years but the lust for mt thundering V8 never dimmed.

At last, in my forties, my dream was fulfilled. For half a year I wallowed in the pride of ownership. Or tried to. It never came quite up to expectation.

I gave the car to my 22yo son. I got far more joy out of his delight than I ever did out of owning the machine myself.

Family, children, loving home. Far more joyous than and teenage dream. And sharing a day like Saturday with Jo and Dylan would have been so much grander than going alone, no matter what the engine under your feet was.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I admit it: I was looking forward to see what you will say about this one. Coming from Ferntree Gully but living away now, I expected you to have a good angle on this one. You do.
Reminds me that I've never been to Perth and should therefore do something about it.

Moshe Reuveni said...

BTW, I would like to add one item to your list of truly important things in life, the things that do make you happy: friends.
Especially as we don't have much of a family with us on this continent, having good friends (including those of the type that bothers to stay in touch despite distance, and including those that I don't really know in conventional terms but can relate to through blogs) truly makes a difference.