"Before Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water."
– Zen proverb
In Australia, the business world closes between Christmas Eve and the 12th January. The three week hiatus drives me crazy. Suppliers are closed. Shippers are immobile. I can't deliver work. My income slows to a trickle. I keep thinking that in the midst of a global economic meltdown, there should be a reality check but in Australia, the summer holiday is sacred. This is really apparent in the privileged, beachside village in which I live. In summer, it becomes just another over-crowded, high-priced resort: half the home-owners only come here at this time of year and only if they're not renting out their houses for $20,000 a week. Shiny new Mercedes, BMWs, Jaguars and the odd Bentley cut in front of each other for the few parking spots and their drivers reverse without looking in the rear-view mirror. Everyone here is, in their own minds, at the centre of the universe and everyone looks the same. The young trophy wives are blonde and tanned, the older women tweaked with plastic surgery. The fragments of conversation that I overhear are always the same, too – real estate, investments and foreign travel. I find myself longing for the third world. Through fiscal necessity, everything's open and anything's possible, all the time. It can be confounding, frustrating, and counter-intuitive but it's often easier to get things done. especially once you've figured out how it all works. At worst, it's always interesting. After Australia Day, the country's big national holiday on the 26th January, everything will be back to normal. The evacuation of the rich has already started. It's still almost impossible to get to the local bank or post office, but tomorrow, I'll drive out to my studio in the west of Sydney and start painting again. A lot of people live to holiday but I'm only really alive when I work.