I’m not a subscriber to the notion that everyone is a product of their environment, I believe we all have the ability to rise above our circumstance or conversely, be swallowed and crushed despite it. Consequently I have seen environmental expectations and arbitrarily determined paths railroad people’s true callings. However, in some cases I believe your upbringing subtly imbues you with postage notes that remain in the deepest recesses of your subconscious mind, a silent navigational device that determines you’re willingness to veer from a path that might be more plain to see with the naked eye. If I ask you to think back to your childhood self and access memories of your dreams from when you were in primary school you’d all know what you wanted to be ‘when you grew up.’ For me I alternated between Australian Cricketer, Essendon Full forward, movie star and rather confoundingly – a ‘mad’ scientist. Such idealistic and pure aspirations are typical of most children I would imagine, regardless of the environment into which they were born and raised. I was reared by two of the most supportive, loving and understanding parents anyone could wish to be brought up by. On one side I had a father figure who filled our childhoods with a whimsical and enthralling sense of story, fun and more recently, wisdom. On the other side, there was my mother. She was a beacon of love, of empathy and of safety, as long as she was there – nothing could go wrong. With these two wings of love and wisdom lifting me through the chasm of early life, I feel like I started on the path I now find myself.
I want to talk briefly about the significance of the things we remember from our childhood. Sure, there were some bad moments, some times where the world was dark and bleak and scary beyond the realms of words. But for me, my childhood is filled with nothing by affirmations of who I have become today, the signposts along the way point to my passions developing into my livelihood, my friendships turning into brotherhoods and my childhood dreams being the start of something that has remained with me to this very second as I stroke this key. An example of this is my love of stories. The passion I have for narratives is but a tiny slice of both of my parents. The stories were told to me by my father, hilarious, creative and laden with a sense of embracing the unknown, the quirky and the weird – my ability to not only enjoy these tales, but to love them, was cultivated and nurtured by my mother. Our camping trips would always involve my father gathering us around as a family, his face illuminated by the sullen light of a gas lantern, and telling us outrageous tales of even more outlandish characters. It was the thing I most looked forward to on these trips, I didn’t much love the outdoors, so the saving grace were the tales I knew I would fall asleep smiling about. My older brother also made a habit of providing a nightly serial for my younger brother and I – the wacky world of ‘Johnny Jim’ will live large in my memory forever. So, shortly thereafter I thought I would put pen to paper and try to create some of the magic that I was privy too, I wanted to create the electricity in an audience that I had seen my brother and father send charging through their captive crowds. The first thing I remember writing about….a pair of underpants that killed people when they put them on. Highbrow stuff from the 9 year old version of myself.
I’m rambling on here, but I’m trying to illustrate my point that almost everything I held dear as a child I still do to this day, with the exception of becoming a mad scientist. I still love cricket, football and film – in fact these are all things I would rank as my favourite topics of discussion, dissection and over analysis. Whether this is because I’m an example of environment = product I can’t say, but I’ve certainly been guided to my current position as a business owner and a purveyor of visual stories by an intangible and invisible force of my cumulative experiences and memories, both remembered and buried.
I could delve deeper and deeper into this, but I feel it’s important to keep a piece of your child self somewhere near the surface. That kid kept things simple, he didn’t like things – he loved them. He was narrow minded when it came to love in that he enjoyed things for what they were – not for how they looked to anyone else. He wouldn’t let you get a job you hated simply to appease a pre-determined definition of what it means to traverse the stages of growing up, in other words he wouldn’t let you settle for something you didn’t love simply because you felt it was the right thing to do as defined by expectation. Having this kid pulling on the reins every now and then will keep you grounded in your dreams, he will pull you into line if you’re venturing down a path that he doesn’t feel is right for you both. He is your silent navigational device, a relic from a time when your mind was a non-cynical sponge, it absorbed everything but retained only the things that truly mattered – he didn’t bother with superfluous and extraneous baggage. He absorbed my mothers love and devotion to those she loved, and my fathers wisdom, his guidance and his creative genius. My eight year self has been more influential on me than I’m willing to admit. He’s the one whose kept me on a path towards the position in which I now find myself, he’s been there to guide me from the cockpit in my subconscious, riding every bump and never letting me loose into the world without his beautiful sense of what it means to love something.