A good and wholesome sense of humor is a requisite skill in the Australian Army. True story. I once tried to become. Long story. You can not be a good Aussie digger if you do not know how to laugh like one. This I have learned: Laughter is a survival skill. Seriously, it is.
Aussie humor and Aussie slang are more modern reflections of the national style. It belies a deeper sense of intrinsic optimism that is in-built in the very ancient soul of Australia. They have it down to an art down there.
The great heart of Australia is a red desert, you see. Red as the rust on the surface of Mars. Along its fringes though, hope dwells and life prospers in the form of thriving cities, towns and tree-filled mountain ranges. Hope finds its way from hoping. Aussie optimism.
You really have to experience Aussie humor and Aussie slang fully immersed in Aussie culture for a few years, it's a great experience.
Of course, any experience of a national culture would be remiss if it were not for meaningful friendships. The basic experience of any culture in my book always begins with the memory of human connections.
Some people seem to want to make space in their heads for bad experiences. Personally, I don't. Doing this crowds out the heart I have found. The mind by itself may only carry so much worldly concerns. Too much thinking about too many of any these altogether too much worldly concerns exhausts the soul.
But not our love. For I have also found that a heart that knows Who, who, what and why it must love may carry all its treasures infinitely and indefinitely. Such is the substance of permanent remembrances.
I guess that's the essence of Mateship. I've thought about the concept of Mateship and associate it with the Love of Friendship. Mateship for me is the fifth and most inconspicuous star in the Southern Cross. It's right on the Australian Flag.
I've many good memories about Australia.
Two good Aussie mates I've had the pleasure of knowing among others Down Under is a bloke named William Eric Adams-White and another named David Bullen. Bill and Dave were their usual handles. Both are battlers. Dave is a reserve combat engineer.
You see, I came to Australia speaking my college English gleaned from my native Philippine setting. I carried with me on my tongue a conspicuously American slant. You can imagine how devastating that is when it comes to just plain, small talk in Australia. All big words and a foreign accent and all.
Devastating for me, that is.
I don't know but the Aussie accent and all that slang were all so alien to me at first. It all became all too much. Aussies began to sound like Martians to me. I got culture shocked and withdrew into a shell.
Then I met these two blokes at work. And oh, how they made me laugh. Another good mate of mine during that time was a proud Kiwi named David Polson. David was more or less my introduction to New Zealand culture. Though I've never been to New Zealand, I came to know some of its spirit.
Indeed, laughter did much to break me out of my shell.
And I slid right in there. Like a swimmer learning to swim, I learned in time to paddle into the culture and the lingo until I felt myself good enough to dive right in.
Bill must be in heaven now. He was already quite old when I was there. He gave me a cheapy calculator to help me with my work. He gave it to me with a big smile. I still have that cheapy calculator. It's priceless.
During my time in Oz, apart from my family, I must have met so many good people.
I can remember only one inexplicably bad incident of this one bloke, angry as hell at me, who blocked me off the road one random day and cursed me out for no reason.
As traffic piled behind me, who else did I see from my rear view mirror were rushing to confront the guy but other Aussies. There were suddenly plenty of us against this one, pathetic wanker.
A hundred ugly racists is not equal to one good Aussie mate, fair dinkum.
Within any given nation at any given time I believe, there are always reasonable and unreasonable people. Good times and bad times will come and go and persist in our souls. It's all about perspective, you know. I choose to remember good times. And good times are always made up shared experiences between good friends and good family.
This was before my time in the States. But that's another story.
Lead with your mind but think with your heart.