One of the greatest story tellers in the history of the United States of America was MARK TWAIN, an author of legend.
He was also a spellbinding orator and superb raconteur.
Of all his great words, I regard these as his finest.
‘There are two memorable days in your life. The first is the day you are born. The second is when you ask yourself this question,
WHY AM I HERE?
Tragedy is that most people either avoid the question or feel unable to answer it.
I was reminded of Mark Twain this week when the Australian Government held a Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra that was attended by 150 of our nations most influential citizens and who were joined by a selection of powerful Members of Parliament.
Over 2 days, they made 36 recommendations to Government for action which I hope will be implemented quickly, skillfully and efficiently. It is a reasonable assessment to say that the Summit was a success.
Over and above this, the Summit conveyed a personal message to you and me. It challenged us to decide what we will do with our lives at work and play and as volunteers working to create a cohesive society.
The stage is now set for circumstances whereby there will be sufficient jobs available so we can choose, without pressure to work full or part time, no matter what our age or gender or status or wealth or ethnic heritage.
Interestingly, it is confidently expected that many people will now choose part time work in their quest to have a better quality of life.
Especially, older Australians will have the opportunity to return to the work force without losing part of their pension. Hopefully also, a decision will soon be made that will enable self funded retirees to work part time & put their pay in full into their superannuation fund.
Another hope is that volunteers will be given far more interesting challenges in charity work other than the boring task of preparing morning tea or driving cars.
Notably, the greatest thrust of the Summit was to help mothers get back into the paid workforce where they can show their worth and skill in ways they are currently denied (and also add to their superannuation which is currently far inferior to that of males).
Over and above all this are our personal aspirations for a life of fulfillment.
Along with the reforms of the Jobs and Skills Summit will come a flexibility of employment opportunities which will enable people to seek ways and means of achieving personal goals as the result of answering the Mark Twain question – WHY AM I HERE?
Every one of us, no matter what our age or financial position or state of health – or what we have already achieved in life – could have or may have or may think about having a fresh goal or goals in life. Indeed, I read the other day of a woman whose life circumstances had caused her to have only a very basic education. Yet, in her 90’s, she studied for and achieved a University Degree in Arts just to prove she could do it. She has arranged for the scroll that the University gave her to be placed in her coffin as an eternal symbol.
Many of us by force of events may have wound up in an occupation that was not our prime choice. Now, in retirement, why not give it a go, retrain and try to spend at least a decade enjoying your dream before your health gives out.
The opportunities are without limit. I can speak from experience as I have enjoyed 5 occupations fairly successfully over my 90 years – banker, accountant, fund raising consultant, company director, author. Its not all that hard to achieve.
A wonderful thing to do would be to form a business partnership with a young person in which you mentor one another as you work together to achieve a goal. The older person brings wisdom and experience and, hopefully a bit of financial capital. The younger one brings modern knowledge, computer skills, physical strength and vibrant enthusiasm. (I enjoy one such partnership. I do a weekly podcast with a young lawyer, James Morgan, who is 70 years my junior. We call it ‘Young James and Old Everald talk politics’)
So, a new world is opening up for every one of us to accept or reject.
Parliament appears to be getting its act together, showing some leadership and opening doors to opportunity.
We now can decide whether or not we walk through those doors and, if it has been unanswered up to this point in time, grab the future in both hands and say
I KNOW WHY I AM HERE.
From a fan of HUCKLEBERRY FINN and TOM SAWYER.
And who has Flynn of the Inland as his personal role model of achievement. (I wrote a book about him called THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES).