Travelling up to Wellsford for a workshop at Kotare, with shuttles and planes and cars, inevitably some foot slogging and some waiting around in between, was a big enough trip to jiggle the thought patterns.
Sunday morning at Britomart, waiting for the Skybus, I suddenly experienced the feeling of homelessness, what it must be like, but at the same time realising that homelessness is a state of mind more generally as we are cut off from anything that might be described as turangawaewae. The airport, the aeroplane, the car, the shuttle, the smartphone become a stand in, with routines of leaving and arriving and the consumer paraphernalia. But the real homeless have a sort of stability. They can’t go anywhere, they don’t have access to the screens or the routines, there is little to distract them, they must wait and let time pass. They’re like village people as they used to be.
As I had left the Grey Lynn house to walk to the bus stop at 8am on a Sunday morning, I expected a deserted street. Instead there was already a market, and a woman waiting anxiously for the dairy to open. The market stuff looked pretty bedraggled to me but nevertheless, these well off people were pouring over it and there was a queue for the ATM machine. Commerce was alive and well at 8am on Sunday morning. At the workshop I had become aware of the way precarious employment is shaping people, even the educated. It requires a certain anxious energy, a need to network, a willingness to seize the opportunity when it arises, a sort of exhaustion. It’s the mindset of the market stallholder, the barrow boy or girl, the small business owner, but is now becoming universal.
Finally, on the shuttle home, I pondered the generation gap. I was brought up in a counter cultural era where it was expected that a person was skeptical of the system and of social norms. The government was crap, capitalism was crap, suburbia ridiculous, normal aspirations questionable and there was an alternative, with Che the hero. And full employment meant you could earn a living when you had to. Of course, many of my generation sold out when things got tighter, but I feel a certain schizophrenia as I try to be enthusiastic, positive, performative, even when addressing the wrongs. Set your goals and go for them. This comes from ads, reality tv, sports spectacles, education, celebrity role models… the only skeptical ones are the hungry and we can help them, and then they can be enthusiastic as well.