(Warning, this is not for fragile hearts, any reaction is under your own responsibility, in case of emergency call 000)...
I don’t know how all this happened, I was 29 there and now I am 45 here, close to another year, so far away from there, so close from here, from the ones I love, from the life I chose, from myself at last.
When I came to Australia in July 2003, I was a bit lost and my life did not make much sense. I studied communications and I had some experience in media so I knew I had some sort of a hidden "superpower", but everything felt a bit shallow to me. Communications is wide, has a myriad of branches and I was looking for something meaningful that I could really believe to put my heart and soul in. Alone in Melbourne for the first three years, I had the opportunity to reconnect with myself and I realised how important was for me the environment in which I live and connect with. I probably always knew it, but like many people there, I was alienated in a system that pushes us away from our true nature in order to get a career, earn enough money to survive, and try to be "successful".
I suppose that sometimes to see everything clearer, we need to take some distance and look at the reality from a different perspective. And even though I was far from "home" and life sometimes was tough, for some reason I was feeling more alive and connected with myself here and I asked myself why. Why am I feeling more aligned here than in my own country?...
So I noticed that in Melbourne people seems to be happier and friendlier in general, the diversity of cultures and the vibe of the city is amazing. There are jobs for people and they seem to do what they love, like or care about, what is in line with their true nature, and that was a revelation to me. The city is fairly clean and organised, public services are reliable and rules are respected by the majority. I also noticed that there are plenty of green areas and natural spaces, people ride their bicycles to work, recycle their rubbish and when I breathe in the morning, I can breathe clean air. People, in general, seems to be more environmentally aware here. So I realised that for me and probably for many of us, our environment can shape the way we feel and think, so this could also affect our attitudes, habits and value system... and that was my eureka moment one. It was 2006 and I remember renting the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and I got really inspired by it, I really believed this and I would love to become a change agent, I could also look like Al Gore one day... Uncle Al, you know?.... so I decided that I was going to dedicate my life to do something inspiring, something meaningful that I love, to become part of the solution. That was the plan in the paper at least. Going back to Chile and make a difference in my own country. An idealist guy indeed considering the culture in Chile is very different than here.
However, in my process of reflection and self-discovery, reading articles, studying online and posting thoughts and ideas, I realised many things and one of them was that I had the power to inspire others and also piss people off a bit. Now, bare with me for a moment because this is about to turn a bit bitter, and if you don't know me you will think I am crazy. But I am not, in fact, I am a very reasonable person, but I have a strong sense of justice and I think there are times in life when we need to speak up and fight for our rights. So if you are a sensitive soul expecting for a beautiful and positive story about Australia, this may not be your cup of tea. Now this was my own experience and I am not saying that everyone has suffered or felt the same, but maybe my story represents some of us who came to this country looking for more opportunities, a new beginning or a better life, and I think I have the responsibility to let you know, to keep it in mind and understand.
Being an immigrant or an International student, is not easy and I knew that from the beginning, but I was also attracted by the idea of starting fresh in a new place. I also knew that had to do whatever to survive and I was not in “Kansas any more” if you know what I mean. I was coming from a couple of traumatic experiences, and I was hurt inside, but I knew I had to overcome my fears and find myself again to be happy and feel proud, and I was willing to do it even if I had to start from the bottom again. And after a due research and a call from the past, Australia sounded really appealing to me.
I’m not gonna lie, I was not being happy there. I was disappointed of everyone and everything... even of myself. But at least I had my family who love me, to take care of me. But after a couple of years walking around, knocking many doors, feeling ignored, getting abused in small places, trying to show my value to “fit into" a system I did not believe, I decided to just leave, like a bird trying to fly from the nest, even if it has to fight, fall and get in pain again, just to be himself.
The story is a bit longer, there is also a “she” that hooked me like a fish from the beginning here and ended bad for me, but that is another story, a blast from the past and love at first sight I think .... anyways, even though I was feeling more "alive" and connected with myself, I was also pretty annoyed with some things here and there, and with the world in general, to be honest. I was feeling betrayed, alone and not happy with the conditions I was living here. I felt ripped off by my educational provider, I was working night shifts in a Casino, being bullied by some people there, but at the same time, I needed the job because I had to pay international fees (for everything in advance). So basically I was working 20 hrs a week and doing some cleaning jobs cash on hand to barely survive, feeling ripped off and bullied, and I think this situation start bothering me and I decided to speak up. But I am not that shy and I decided to complain in style. After all I am professional communicator, you know?
So I started to write everything down. I allowed myself to think freely and say whatever I wanted to say, not just for my current situation but for like 20 years, repressing and holding myself back, after all, I was just a simple international student in a city TAFE and I didn’t have much to lose. So I got an idea, I created a social experiment and I asked myself, "can the flutter of a butterfly cause a storm on the other side of the planet?", It was my first attempt to start an online revolution and It was made in Melbourne in 2005... My aim was to create a "butterfly effect", disrupt the system here and send a powerful message to my country to create a social impact. The strategy was to send my "manifesto" to the media in Chile to let them know I was here, supported with projects and ideas. Meanwhile here I was just being annoying with a guerrilla tactic to upset the "big brother" and create a reason to wander and connect the dots with the others up there. Positives and negatives.
I did it for a couple of years, It was like throwing love and truth bombs online. I created a storyline and my own style, I gave a bit of my mind to everyone, not in a bad way though, sometimes a bit rude or sarcastic, sometimes inspired and always standing upon the shoulders of giants, trying to be constructive but provoking and scathing. I sent notes to the president, ministers, the congress (parliament), newspapers and the media, explaining why I wanted to leave Chile. In a nutshell, “I was just another repressed young man with trust issues; an ex medicated ADHD kid, son of the dictatorship; an idealistic guy who felt cheated by the system, disappointed with the country, just like so many of us there, right?” and apparently, they got the message.
I also realised that the arts have the power to start a revolution, and technology and social media are beautiful things. For the first time in my life, I felt free to be myself completely and write and say whatever I wanted to say and with a little bit of research, an email address and a simple click, I could let them know exactly how does it feel to be ripped off, ignored, used, abused, discriminated or heartbroken. It was the time of “My Space”, The Dark Side of OZ video, the free hugs campaign, The Secret movie (the Law of attraction), and just before the Indian protests in Melbourne, so I just put it all together to make my case... you go figure.
In Chile, some people went crazy (I hope nobody died) and around that time the schoolies (penguins) started marching over the streets of Santiago demanding "free and quality education for all". Over the next couple of years, the movement grew to the higher and tertiary education and they called the "Chilean Spring" (after the Arab one), and they literally changed the history of the country. Now, don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that I started all these things, not with the violence at least, but it was certainly a synchronicity, a huge coincidence, an alignment of stars if you wish, so I probably triggered and fuel something important there, so let’s say I just pinched a nerve, I threw a little snowball.
It was epic!
Meanwhile here the “DIMIA intelligence" was behind my steps because apparently, I became “a suspicious individual” so my Immigration agent vanished like the wind, I started with my visa issues and they suddenly changed the permanent resident rules... probably I pissed some people off with my sarcastic emails, sexist projects and bitter complaints. But before you judge me, let me tell you my side. I was hurt, I was being bullied and they provoked me first (Crown Casino), so I just gave them some of their own medicine. By then, I knew the game by heart. They provoke you to see your ugly side and then point you with the finger, accusing you of your bad attitude and aggressive behaviour...I’ve been there before, you know? and I am not gonna make the same mistake. So this time I developed a self-defence mechanism, and after asking for help in a couple of places without results, I decided to provoke them back but at a government level. I gave them a bit of an attitude and scared the shit out of them just to get their attention, and then I confused them with a little bit of love power, just enough to don't get deported.
I used to feel like a bloody outlaw, for a moment in my life I felt like Ned Kelly or Clint Eastwood in an spaghetti western. I bet some people got pretty crossed because a few came to see if I was a crazy sociopath or some sort of Jesus superstar. They also organise a panel of experts to come and check me out, I remember that!... They though I was going cuckoo... that I had a few skipies loose in the top paddock... you know?... and I was just pissed off.
Anyways, they followed me for years probably around 4 or 5 at least, It was like playing chess with a machine, I won a few games but they'd come back for more and I won some more. They investigated my life and try to freak me out me with some dirty tricks, setting up some traps to see if I fell for it. They hacked my social media accounts, editing and disappearing some of my writing ( please return to sender) and I started getting phone calls and invitations from people I did not know, some of dubious reputation. Meanwhile I was getting this weird vibe, like if someone was trying to prove something. Apparently, some people tried to scare me so I would go back to Chile, like if they were the owners of my destiny or something. And even though I got pretty scared and a bit paranoid at times, everything is over now. I won by checkmate and KO, I kill them with love, and I know I can make a difference because I did, big time.
Unfortunately, everything was underground and "not official", so of course no one would accept it and politicians made sure to capitalise it with social programs, scholarships and special visas, like if they were trying to fill up a hole to bury me alive. Good on them! I accomplished my goal, I did my part, thank you very much. I am easy now, I risked my butt and I learned the lesson...nobody gives a shit and if they can, they will talk some crap and try to set you up. Apparently they didn't like the way I think about certain things, so they decided I had to be silenced. So I just played dumb and kept on with my life, after all, they did the same to me so many times, right?
Meanwhile in this long process of resistance to make my point and tell my truth, I met a beautiful person who is now my wife. She is another angel in my life who was introduced to me by an old classmate in Chile (workmates now), when I was In my lowest times, lonely, homeless, scared as shit, getting fired from every little kitchen (not sure why), living in a youth hostel in Melbourne trying to survive with the races and the footy (thank you Art! ). Her profession was a mere coincidence...or maybe a divine intervention. We became friends pretty quick and for some reason we both felt a connection.
Thanks to her friendship and unconditional support I had the opportunity to fulfil my unfinished dream to keep studying and growing and with the help of the Australian Government (not the Chilean one), I completed my Ma. In Social Sciences in 2011, at RMIT, a really big win for me and a massive thank you.
She also showed me the best side of Australia and with her love I start healing and I became a better version of myself. She showed me that I was also wrong about many things and Australia was much more than a small bunch of people trying to make my life harder. She showed me the real Australia, from Cairns to Tasmania, From the Yarra Valley to the rural Victoria and NSW, a truly beautiful country, with beautiful people, full of diversity and acceptance, full of good hearts and souls, where everyone is more equal in a culture of trust and honesty that I value, respect and admire. I love this country for many reasons but probably the most meaningful one is that here I found myself and I found true love and I will always be thankful for that.
So at some stage back in 2010, I was in a crossroad and I've had to decide if I'd go back to Chile “to try to fit in" again (although I'd pretty much depended on the government of turn and nobody asked for my services, or even reply to my emails, after putting myself in the line), or to stay in Australia and decide to be happy with the person I chose as my life partner to build the family we always wanted, in a place that we both love. It was a very tough decision as I have all my family back in Chile and I knew I could probably have a better “position” there, I could be more “successful” or "important" ...but, at what price?. Could I be happier and fulfilled there than here?... what kind of life we want to have and where do I want my kids to grow?...in an aggressive society full of injustice, corruption and resentments, where they can "crucify" you if you dare to think different?.... or in a society which is more in line with my value system, where love is in abundance and I can be myself?... besides I just swore loyalty to this country and I would not be able to hurt the person who loved me and helped me in my worst times... sorry, I just can't.... I refuse to become another well-adjusted subject in a sick society, not again, not anymore.
So after a careful consideration and bad moods, I realised that for me, being happy is more important than being important. After all these self-realisation exercises, I came to the conclusion that being important comes from the ego and being happy is from the heart, and to be honest I killed my ego a while ago and now I prefer to be happy here in Australia, than being “important” but frustrated in Chile, trying to help people who don't want to be helped, trying to change the mentality of people who don’t want to change, in a system that is every day more corrupted and less humane....(just watch the news).
So I took the red pill, love and happiness. And if someone ask me for “my responsibility” I just smile and show them a photo of my family. This is my responsibility, my legacy and my aim. This is why I am here now, I am in peace with the world, I am healed at last, I have a beautiful family and I accomplished a huge thing for me, thanks to this country and the best partner who gave me two beautiful kids. So if someone wants to judge me, go on, be my guest, I lend you my shoes, because this has not been a walk in the park. I have felt misjudged, harassed, belittled, rejected and discriminated many times and I also miss my family, my friends and the place I used to call home.
But home is here now, because my heart and my new family are with me, I am strong again and here I feel free to dream big, to be myself without fear, hoping that sooner than later I will become what I need to be. Besides, here I can have the best of both worlds. Just keep the best memories from Chile, while I am still growing, loving and reinventing myself in OZ... But I need to make the most of it, because I am a valuable individual and I am not getting younger, you see?
For now, I am enjoying being a Dad and doing something that makes me feel useful. Something practical, with heart, soul and purpose; I am part of something much bigger than myself, something that gives me hope in people and the future, and although I am far from achieving my potential and my skills doesn't seem to be very valuable here... lately, I've realised that maybe we don't have to be on top, or to be important, or to be wealthy, in order to make a difference or to create an impact... Probably sometimes we can make a difference just by “being the change we want to see in the world”; being kind with each other, helping, respecting and lifting people up, loving our families and creating or trying to create a revolution of love wherever we are, like a grass root movement, a chain effect.... and that was my eureka moment two, my epiphany, and why I am doing what I do.
So if someone is looking for a disruptive campaign, you know where to find me, I am in the place that is making a difference in Australia and the best brand in the world, "a brand that believes in its core, that people with passion can change the world"... All you need is love and a nice Job.
I rest my case...