There was an article in The Age bemoaning the fate of a couple of older women in Reservoir (povo northern suburb of Melbourne).
They were living in a dodgy rooming house with a leaky roof and rotten footing. They survived on the dole and struggled to pay the rent. The article was all about how the government should give them more money because they were about to be evicted and there was not enough social housing for them to be guaranteed a place.
Can I just say, I know people involved in social housing in various respects, be they tenants, social workers or contractors. Basically these are good quality, taxpayer-funded houses given to the underclass to trash.
As I read, I wondered: how did these women end up in such a position? At such an advanced age, working for all those years, they ought to have decent savings invested by now. What went wrong?
Of course, Age articles like this daintily skirt around such difficult issues. They had experienced ‘illness’, ‘relationship breakup’, ‘family violence’, etc.
Translation: approximately as per the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, they shacked up with bad boys, did drugs, got drunk, partied and fucked around when they were younger instead of working, saving, marrying and putting a deposit on a house. If they have any children (the article does not say), these will be ill-raised hooligans of little use to them now.
And why did they get evicted? The very fact that the pinko journo chooses not to elaborate makes it clear that that was their fault, too.
Mostly, when your life is in the shitcan, it’s your own fault. Few people have any worse enemy baying for their blood than themselves.
Look at me. I moan about my life and work in Africa, but how did I end up here? Through a series of bad choices that I freely made. I didn’t study enough maths and other hard stuff. I ended up in a career where working overseas can be easier and somewhat more lucrative. I chose to come to this bizarre country even after doing my research. And here I am.
I wish there were someone else to blame but I can think of no other targets. Sure, I got some poor advice along the way, but who was it that chose to take that advice without due diligence? Muggins.
That exhausted, near-defeated man I see in the mirror every morning is to blame for everything wrong with my life.
I had the option to leave. I found a way that would have caused a minimum of fuss. But I chose to stay for the money. So, during my next year, I have no right to complain at all. If I do so here please refer me back to this post, or the previous one, and scold me.
I’ve been sick lately. I’ve been so unwell I haven’t made it to the gym in a month. Hopefully I’ll be good to go tomorrow. Sometimes illness can be blameless but not in my case – I chose to come to a third world country where mystery viruses go around like hilarious emails did in 1999.
Having said that, the fact that I’ll be able to escape the rat race in fifteen months is also no accident of fortune. While others were pissing their potential life savings down the drains of Shinjuku, I was drinking moderately and saving my pennies. While my mates were messing around on Facebook, I was educating myself about investment and putting the theory into practice. And soon, if I don’t die, I’ll reap the rewards.
There are some problems in life that are due to pure, random chance. Accidents not caused by drunk driving, unpreventable illnesses . . . actually, those are the main two. Most other problems are avoidable, self-inflicted, or are manageable risks that you ought to have prepared for: pregnancy, AIDS, drug addiction, redundancy, divorce, a house fire, a financial crash – those are the primary pitfalls that the first world, twenty-first century man may stumble into now that smallpox and cave bears have been exterminated.
So if you find yourself up shit creek without a paddle, ask yourself why. Knowing that it is your own stupid fault is empowering (god fucking damn I hate that word) because, if you were able to go and get yourself into that mess all by yourself, maybe you also have the agency to get yourself out of it.
‘I fucked up.’ Go on, say it. Feels good, man.