Motherland

Fact 1.

I was listening to my iPod while walking earlier (I have to park my car 20 mins walk away from work to avoid parking charges – I don’t mind because it’s good exercise! now this sentence actually contains three facts) and Land of Hope and Glory came on my iPod. Bit random.

Fact 2.

When it kicked in I suddenly got a huge lump in my throat and tears were stinging the corner of my eyes.

Fact 3.

Recently we watched the film The Patriot because Mr OC had never seen it. I really enjoy that film even though it paints the Brits pretty badly as pompous, evil, arrogant fools who have too much concern with ceremony. Not saying there isn’t truth in that, nor that the movie is one hundred per cent accurate. Firstly I didn’t live in the eighteenth century so what do I know, and secondly, this isn’t a blog about the American Civil War!

Hearing Land of Hope and Glory and feeling emotionally moved by it sent a train of thought through my little brain that went something like this:

Does an anthem like this move me because I think Britain is awesome? No, it’s not about that… it’s about pride in the country I was born in. If you’re so proud why did you leave? I left for many reasons – mostly just to broaden the experiences of my life, however, whilst there are things that annoyed me about the UK, it didn’t cause me to want to leave it. Do you think the UK is better than Australia? Without wanting to seem like my butt is firmly on the fence I love and dislike things about both countries. 

The conversation, or internal debate, went on for a few minutes longer along these kind of lines. I think I was challenging myself to reason why I was crying for a country I’d chosen to leave and could quite easily return to.

But here is how I feel about England, and in some respects the UK as a whole:

There are things that I’m not entirely proud of being British for when I think of my homeland. I think there are things which exist there that shouldn’t – things that could be run better by our country’s leaders. And then there is how the rest of the world feels about the UK or England, about the Commonwealth. Our influence in the English speaking countries and our history within those countries can be somewhat disliked – and this particular point is something I’ve learnt to appreciate more standing back and standing among people not of British descent.  And for all the years of glory (sometimes at the suffering of others) some people feel it’s time that England step back – thinking that goes along the lines of they had their time of trying to take over the world and now each country deserves it’s individualism and separation from the Monarchical reign etc. I get all that. But I’m still think that you cannot deny the amazing achievements of the nation in history, and we certainly played a huge part in bringing peace to the World in the last century, no? Without getting into historical politics – our Land of Hope and Glory is, in many ways exactly that… undeniably. It’s up to British citizens and the leaders of the nation to ensure that glory is not lost in our future and have pride where we have made great change for the better, and respect where we might have failed or wronged other nations, or where we need to step back.

God knows I miss many things about the UK, many things that I love such as the landscape – “England’s green and pleasant land”, beautiful old villages filled with ancient cottages, all it’s pretty features, castles and manors. I miss British pubs and cold winters with central heating. I miss a British Christmas. I miss the BBC and I’m glad I can listen and watch some of it over here. I love British music. I am proud that British actors, movies, and music are becoming even greater. I am proud of our armies and every individual soldier who fights for the nation.

But…  do not start questioning my love of Australia too. Firstly, who would love a place enough in one visit to come back nine months later and end up living here, and would not love it still?

I fell in love with Sydney’s beauty and the Northern Beaches lifestyle. I love it here. Every. Day. When I drive across town to the airport or to a meeting in the CBD or something, I always enjoy coming over the Spit Bridge and feeling like I’m coming home.

On the other hand, there is, for me a frustration with the huge cost of living here in Sydney, and I don’t know that I’ll be spending the rest of my life here. But that’s partly because I’m just not a city dweller, and I yearn for space (which this country certainly has, another thing I love about it!) and even here on the Beaches sometimes the stress and rush of city life feels too close. Yet, on the flip side, the city is beautifully close and the wonderful Sydney harbour is right on my doorstep. Fantastic… very lucky.

And here’s what else I love – Australia as a nation of people. I am still learning from, and about, the essence of the Australian – the attitude to life, this great appreciation for the land they live on, and the determination to always achieve more. I love the weather (though please note those who do not live in Australia, it is NOT always hot… well not over this side of the country anyway!).  I love that rugby is so much more important than soccer here. [SIDE NOTE: I don’t love that they call rugby league ‘football’ – there is very little foot work in the sport. It’s ridiculous…. but moving on…] I love the clean and warm waters, the sensible parking rules (only in the direction of the driving traffic) and the plethora of outdoor activities you’ll see people doing on a daily basis. Yes, I love many things about living here. I love that for me there is still so much great country to go and explore, and so much more to learn about this nation.

More than anything I love that I have been welcomed into this country and made to feel that it is my home. It’s not something I take for granted. And in return I will love this country back for always.

When I shed a tear earlier I shed it because my love for Australia and my small grievances with England will never wash away my love for my homeland. To me, this is why the word Motherland conveys the part England plays in my life. The love you feel between mother and child is difficult to remove – unquestionable, immovable, unconditional – something like that is something I feel for my country of birth. And when a child grows up and moves away it does not mean it doesn’t love its mother. It merely wants to find new relationships and experiences. I vow to thee my country, all earthly things above, entire and whole and perfect… the service of my love.

I think I’m pretty lucky to feel that for my country of birth, and to be happy living in another great country.

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