[ Canberra Times ]

Time to say goodbye to US correspondent Tim Schildberger

Date: November 8 2014


Tim Schildberger

This is my last column. After six years, and more than 300 appearances, my Sunday conversation/rant is being retired. I feel like an athlete at the end of a long career ... never quite sure when it's time to hang up the spikes, and then given the gentle tap on the shoulder. 

So, on to the last  500 words after so many weeks together.

I've thought a lot about what to say - should I pontificate about the changes in American culture, or observations of Australia from afar? Should I recap my column highlights? 

I've decided to do a little of everything.

My first column, in November 2008, talked about surviving the recent real estate collapse/global financial crisis. You never experienced that horror show, and in some ways it's a shame. I worry a generation in Australia living with no financial hardship or stress, is leading to a subtle or not-so-subtle complacency, and an acceptance of mediocrity. 

Don't settle for "good enough", and please prepare for tougher times. Otherwise when they do arrive, it'll be all the more devastating. 

The US is in many ways worse. Decades of starving the education system means we have millions of people running around more ignorant and than they should be.  Post GFC, we've descended into a political quagmire and revealed a truly staggering gap between the rich and poor which grows as we speak. This is a superpower clearly lurching, and it makes me mad, sad and above all frustrated. A nation can only grow by educating the young, and keeping minds as open as possible for as long as possible. 

Since I started this column I've had twin girls - now in kindergarten - and lost a father. All of it was shared with you. As was my battle with depression. I shared because I believed my ability to communicate may help others, or at least acknowledge the shared experiences we all face. Everything was greeted with grace and respect by you, and for that I am grateful.

This column made me feel connected to Canberra, a city I will always feel is my hometown. I gotta say - the joint has changed dramatically in six years. It's like watching a teenager grow into their skin - congratulations. The New York Times doesn't applaud every city.

I want to thank the folks behind the scenes at this paper. Editors don't get a lot of credit - especially when working with some guy in a foreign country - but I have enjoyed the relationships enormously.

Finally, fittingly, the last words should go to you. Thank you for reading, sharing, and commenting. This column allowed me to examine a great many aspects of this culture, my homeland, and my life. I hope I've given you insight into what it means to be an expat, and to live in this large, diverse, challenged country. It's not easy. Being with you every Sunday has been a constant I have enjoyed more than you know. Thank you, and farewell.

Tim is a writer, TV producer and proud former Canberra resident who has lived in Los Angeles since 1997. Twitter @timschildberger