Tuesday, November 24, 2009


A few weeks ago I was writing a post about the America trip and got about a third of the way along and my computer did that thing it does where it decides to delete everything except the first two lines. The auto save had only saved those first two lines. No matter what I tried, I'd lost it. I couldn't get it back. I was devastated. I was in the middle of explaining how when you go to look for America there are so many ways of finding her... but what about Luke's America of 125 years ago? Where is she? How do you find her?

The whole episode has got me to thinking how strongly we feel about having that save button in our lives. Right now I'm saving after every sentence... We in the 21st century are quite obsessed with saving. Saving our planet for one. Seems to me we have emerged from the Industrial Revolution with some serious regrets about what our achievements have done to our world. In the name of progress we have lost a lot and obliterated much along the way.

And we think in terms of what the future human race will think of us if we don't do some serious saving now. How those future eyes will see us is so important to us. In fact, we agonise over what latter generations will think. We, the children of the Industrial Revolution damn near ruined the earth... but we did try to save it!

Press save now.

I was reading an online comment this morning... let me say that I for one would like to save the English language from Gen Y's version of it.

Save now!

So... America of 125 years ago... where is she? I spent some terrific hours in State archives and libraries and museums looking for her. White gloves, important documents, and glorious maps! Too many books. Precious photographs of buildings and streetscapes that no longer exist. Some structures still stand; some maintained a usefulness that couldn't be denied and remain. Progress is very practically-minded.

I searched for her in other ways as well. I walked the streets of towns and cities a great deal, looking at what had been saved and filling in the gaps with archival photographs and documents. God love him, my husband walked everywhere with me. In fact, without him I would have got lost and needed... yep, saving!

I was staggered at what had not been saved. Progress was in full swing for much of the past 125 years; only in recent times have we become neurotic about what the future generations will think of our imminent ruination. The mind of Progress only thought how future generations will admire us for creating a better world.

I love inhabiting the world of Heartland, of Luke and Jennifer's Cheyenne. This world sees so much hope in the future. And yet it sits perched on the eve of some of the worst of human history. This is in Luke's future and the future of the generations that come after him. I know what they will face. But it doesn't deter me from hoping that things will all turn out well. For me, Luke is a symbol of hope, more so at times than liberty, which is what he would say he is. He is always trying to do better, hates to give up, and believes it will all turn out right in spite of what happens to be raging around him at the time. As Jennifer says "moving, creating, finding a way".

Recently, I heard a teacher address a high school graduation virtually scorning hope as useless sentimentality. That hopers are dreamers and aren't thinkers and doers. Intellect is first and last. But I believe that we human beings will always consider hope as one of our strongest and best traits. It gets us through, especially when our brains are confounded and our bodies exhausted. As we struggle to preserve our planet, to begin to make super human efforts to come together to do what we have to do, we need hope... or we will despair and give up. And our future selves will be right to condemn us.

American philosopher George Santayana famously wrote: "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness... those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

If this is true then it must be because no matter how advanced we think we are or will become, we are always and essentially the same species, human, and to preserve the best of us, to learn from the worst, and to appreciate, value and understand everything in between, we have to remember to save as we go.

Save now.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Nothing worse than being given the runaround.

Can I help you?
Good morning. Make I speak with the buyer?
Not in today... here is our card... call and make an appointment tomorrow.
Ring ring...
Sorry, tied up in meetings all day... call back on Monday.

Gee, I can hardly wait for Monday.
This crowd doesn't respond to emails either. Even though they clearly want you to know their email address.

I'll let you know if I crack this one. Code word: Liberty!

This is teeny-tiny-fish in plenty-big-ocean stuff and like any small business it's one small step at a time. You really have to believe in your product. And it can get to be an obsession. In some ways it ought to be because when you exhibit signs of obsession at least you know that you have the passion to make a go of it.
Psychologically speaking, obsession seems to be a projection of our anxieties. Considered unheathy.
But when it comes to what drives us to achieve our goals it is also a measure of the level of our determination and commitment.
Surely some obsession is healthy then.
Thomas Edison's famous quote "invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" illustrates my point. And if there is obsession to be found out there, those inventor-types have it in spades. Let's face it, anyone who will give all they've got to fulfilling their promise is to be admired.
Not just inventors though. There are so many, past and present, who provide inspiration to the perspiration.
It all starts with a 'something' that you believe in and won't let go of you until you refuse to let go of it. Then it's game on. Get out those hankies and start moping those brows!
And don't let those email-snubbing types make a dent in your obsession armour. Irony is they are so obsessed with what they do, they can't hear someone knocking on the front door, or the back door... or the window, like Cathy Earnshaw... let me in!

That's life in the world of obsession.

I've thought about the O word a lot recently, and if my theories are correct I'll be thinking about it for a long time to come.