Tuesday, 16 December 2014

2014: Consolidating the Happiness & Surviving

I'm a survivor - a living example of what people can go through and survive.
 Elizabeth Taylor: describing herself

If 2013 was the year of self discovery and independence, 2014 has proven to be one of consolidation. Of proving to myself that the happiness and joy I have felt since I moved away was not just temporary. Last week in the middle of writing my thesis, I had a fleeting thought that has sometimes struck me since I forged out on my own.
I am free. I can do whatever the fuck I want and I don't have to answer to anyone! 
Every single day since December 27th 2012 has proven to be a gift, because I truly know how shitty life can be.

Last year I ambitiously forecast that 2014 would be 'The Year of the Doctor'. It was not. I still have more than a year to go before the PhD thesis will be completed. But I haven't sat still. My argument has been redefined, and my supervisors are more confident in the path that we are taking. It may not be finished in 2015. Who knows? The new deadline date is August 31st, 2016, so as long as it is completed by then, I don't really care how I get there. There are no ambitious forecasts this time. Life is for having fun.

Fun is exactly what I've been having this year. In August, I took my first travelling holiday since 2007. I spent a week on the Gold Coast, in a fully accessible lake house on Runaway Bay. With the supporting cast of three excellent staff members from Wesley Mission Brisbane, and two of my fellow residents from the Youngcare complex, I read 3 books, gambled, watched my favourite musical of the year, and got some much needed sleep.

In 2014, I participated in the ultimate brotherly bonding moment when we saw James Faulkner brake the hearts of the English Cricket Team, educated a few Queenslanders on the finer points of the greatest game the world has ever known, saw my father get bear hugged by a Crows supporter, who claimed to follow Port, while wearing a Gold Coast Suns jumper, and enjoyed an entire day of live Test cricket. All of that was at the one venue, The Gabba.

I also cried when my beloved Port Adelaide missed the Grand Final by a kick. I will never get over that.

Musically, I attended live gigs that featured Bruce Springsteen, Neko Case, Lior, Angus and Julia Stone, and Jimmy Eat World (at a gig that celebrated the tenth anniversary of one of my favourite albums, Futures). My next year in music promises to be bigger still, as I've already secured tickets to see Belle and Sebastian, First Aid Kit, The Veronicas, Demi Lovato and the incomparable Taylor Swift.

In the midst of all that frivolity, my biggest achievement of the year was writing and starring in Youngcare's ad campaign. I am so proud of the ad, and the other work I've done with Youngcare this year, including participating in meetings with the Federal Parliamentary Secretary of Disabilities, as well as the Queensland Treasurer, and the Queensland Minister for Disabilities. My year in disability advocacy became even larger when Wesley Mission Brisbane asked to participate in their fundraising campaigns too.

At the end of the last few years I always think I survived the year and that is an achievement, but that doesn't mean I'm entirely satisfied with everything that transpired. Once again I'm continually disappointed by the struggle to find intimacy, which is not treated like a commodity. This is particularly so given that I've worked so hard trying to be more outgoing in 2014. Objects of this author's affection remain unattainable as always, only to continue the cycle of perpetual disappointment.

My conflict with the disability sector also continues unabated. The progression of the corrupt and fragmented NDIS continues much to my ongoing disgust. The government also closed down Ramp Up at the end of the financial year, denying a key vehicle of advocacy for people with disabilities. Although I wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway, I still mourn its loss every time that an issue for people with disabilities does not get covered by the mainstream media, which is to say every single day.

Lastly, thank you to the staff who work with me in my home, all of whom are employed by Wesley Mission Brisbane. Without them I couldn't do any of the things I mentioned above. The place that Youngcare built with vision and care. I would encourage every reader to donate to Youngcare and/or Wesley this Christmas. So far I'm only one person of 25 who gets to live in this fantastic environment. There needs to be more. Please give the gift of freedom. The kind of freedom I always dreamed of, and now have.

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