Ever since I moved to Canberra, I’ve spent every day cherishing my reality. I enjoy every aspect of this weird town that’s big enough to have everything you imagine you’ll need, but is still small enough so you run into the same person twice or thrice a week.
It’s a satisfactory blend of big and small. When, on a Sunday afternoon, I walk down the city paths, I’m amazed at the lack of people running into each other. It feels as if the city’s almost too big for the people it houses. Then as soon as I enter the shopping mall, I’m washed over by excited wailing children, babbling adults, and snippets of he-said-she-said gossips.
Afterwards, I walk around the lake or along a park, and I’m mesmerised by the vast greenness that spreads before my eyes. Of course, there’re grasslands that’ve seen better days, now dry and parched without much fodder for the grazing cows. But I’m sure, as spring rolls over, rains will pour down and lusciousness will tumble on.
Every aspect of Canberra makes me hopeful. I can’t imagine anyone feeling depressed to live here.
I’ve heard friends moan at the very thought. It’s home, but it’s still alien to them. For quite a while, I couldn’t comprehend why such a beautiful valley of a town was so disturbing for a lot of people.
Today I learnt why. A friend explained: growing up in this small town meant that every street corner has a memory. Each time they walk past the fountain in the city or step over the fence in a park, it triggers past experiences—both good and bad.
That’s when I realised: no two people ever see the same thing. As a recent migrant, I can’t fathom what a local sees when they look at a building. I see architecture and unknown history, and they see experiences, losses, and lessons.
That got me thinking. It’s not just about Canberra. It’s the same with every place.
My distaste for the city I lived in for six years stems from the bad times I had there. When it comes up in a conversation, I tend to focus on the negatives because they’re predominant in my mind. And that blinds me to the good side of the city. Clouded in my opinions, every suggestion I offer to a third person is marred and false even.
Even though we don’t often recognise it, our minds are always biased. It prevents us from weighing options with a level head, to accept even the possibility of a reality we’re unaccustomed to. We’re so entrenched in our own thoughts that we’re oblivious to the external perspective.
But that’s human nature. We can shrug it off and move on, or we can understand that we all come from a personal point of view—an understanding that’s crucial for us to grow as emotionally intelligent people.