Has the earth tilted just a little on its axis?
While the baby boomers are heading toward retirement, our grandchildren are embracing social enterprise, diversity, inclusiveness and saving the bees.
A self-professed ‘capitalist pig’, I have raised two daughters with finely honed social consciences. They have created amazing communities around them and are living far more ‘mindfully’ than I ever dreamed possible.
How did this happen?
My career included the development and operation of many businesses and more recent forays into government at a management level. This enabled me to provide a lovely home, private school education and the arrogance to encourage my girls to ‘get a job’ from the age of fourteen.
Despite my own ‘slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun’ leanings, my girls studied and worked, developing their own views on… everything. I encouraged discussion at the dinner table, and while often surprised that their opinions were ‘left’ of my own, enjoyed observing the development of their values and the logic they used to back them up.
While still at school, the ‘pay it forward’ movement caught their attention. This heralded the shift to social enterprise as a means of inclusion and giving back. Prolific in cities, we now find these enterprises in most regional areas. Orange Sky Laundry, Second Shot Coffee, food and farming co-operatives. I quietly applaud such initiatives.
There is a perception that all Gen X, Y and Millenials are self-absorbed - randomly walking in front of traffic while on their phones with their ear buds in. We wonder if they will ever own a home, stay in a job or contribute to taxes. In contrast, ‘boomers’ have worked all our lives to pay off a mortgage (if we are lucky), raise children, own a car, a big screen TV and pick out a comfortable retirement home.
Perceptions can shift.
My youngest daughter is a beekeeper and new Mum. Raising a baby on her own, I worry that she doesn’t ‘have much.’ Truth is, she doesn’t want or need much. Happy without TV, big screen or otherwise, she loves books. These she swaps or buys second hand and donates back when done. She has built a wonderful community around herself - the yoga, bee keeping and ‘grow it all yourself’ tribe. She has a phone and laptop to stay in touch with the international instagrammers who invite her to stay with them in Denmark for a bee conference, or Spain to learn belly-dancing. She blogs for them, while breast-feeding her baby by the beach.
Big sister went to Uni, was Queensland Youth Ambassador for World Vision for a year and continues to work in this space. She volunteers. A lot. She met her husband at her local Anglican church social enterprise - repairing bicycles to give to refugees and the poor. Interestingly, they choose not to have a TV in their home. They love books.
I contemplate my beautiful French provincial library, complete with sliding ladder, and feel just a little ashamed of my covetous nature and the ‘stuff’ I have collected. Do I need it? Maybe not.
My garden is pesticide free. I’m saving the bees too.
The earth just tilted, a little, on its axis.
Susan Mackie © 2018
© Susan Mackie, 2017
The lightning flashed, the power flickered and screeching sirens pierced the atmosphere that draped heavily across Kat’s thin shoulders. She peered out through the kitchen window at the celestial light show, while sipping from the steaming mug she held to her chest with both hands.
Kat had the supplies she would need if the power failed. Torch and candles, bottled water, wet weather gear. The news had not predicted flooding, but the rain was heavy and experience told her that tonight the weather bureau may have got it wrong.
Her phone lit up. It was Nick. Kat smiled. He always sent a text, even when working on a night like this.
Lines down all over town. Will be out all night. Love you.
Kat drew a breath. With the baby coming, they need the extra money. Repairing the lines during storms pays three times his normal wages. She knows he secretly enjoys the adrenalin rush of the battle against nature alongside his tight-knit team, but she would be happier to have him at home.
Kat replied. Stay safe. Love you.
Monitoring the news feed on her phone, Kat tried to settle. She drifted into the baby’s room and looked around, pleased with the painting they had finished before Nick was called out. She dragged the cot from the middle of the room to the wall with the window and lifted the drop sheets off the rest of the furniture. She spent an hour sorting the little outfits and baby supplies into drawers and on shelves, just to keep busy.
Taking a break on the padded footstool, she stretched her legs and arched her back. The aching had been there all day, but was now a deep tugging sensation. Moving position, Kat breathed through the pain. It was too early for the baby, still five weeks to go. She bit her lip. Should she call Nick home? What if it was nothing? There were people out there without power, perhaps elderly or ill.
The lights blinked, then went out. Damn. Kat edged cautiously along the hallway to the kitchen. She fumbled for the torch, then lit two fat candles in glass holders. She lowered herself onto a chair as another, stronger pain struck. Breathing fast, she felt her waters break.
She began to sob and reached for her phone. It’s too early, she thought. She tried Nick’s number. No answer. She sent a text.
Waters broken. Calling ambulance. Come to hospital.
Despite the storm, the ambulance came quickly. The older paramedic, Dave, held Kat’s hand as her contractions came, strong and fast.
“You’re doing fine. Just breathe. That’s the way. Good girl.”
At the hospital, Kat saw ambulances and police cars, lights flashing, sirens blaring. She looked at Dave.
He nodded toward the commotion. “They called this through as we were heading to you, love. It’s a nasty one. Seems a truck slammed into an electricity pole the power blokes were working on. Two fatalities.”
Kat flinched and put a hand to her mouth. Dave noted her pallor.
“But you’ll be right love,” he said as he wheeled her in, “women have babies every day.”