Have you ever wondered how much your up bringing and early family life affected the person you are? Jill Ker Conway, in her autobiography The Road to Coorain, both literally and figuratively maps out her early life, placing specific emphasis on geographic location and the importance it made to her as an adult. Her life as a young girl in the western outback shaped her view toward the world, just as our backgrounds have shaped who we are. After Conway’s trip to England she states that, It took a visit to England for me to understand how the Australian landscape actually formed the ground of my own consciousness, shaped what I saw, and influenced the way a scene was organized in my mental imagery. By reflection on my past, I can support, just as Conway has, that a person’s up bringing directly affects their perspective on life. During the earlier part of her life Conway lived in the hostile western region of Australia that produced men and women that never complained about hard work. Reversly, I have been raised in a green, forgivable climate, where my family urged me to express my feelings and I have become sensitive to not only my own feelings, but also to those others.
After Conway’s father died, she and her mother moved to Sydney. During Conway’s schooling she attended the local public school for only one day. Had Conway stayed there she said she would have discovered the true nature of the Australian class system. As it was, it took, “another fifteen years to see the world from my own Australian perspective, rather than from the British definition taught to my kind of colonial.” Unlike Conway, I have always attended the local public school; forcing me to mix with people with incomes slightly above, below, and equal to my family. Additionally, this summer I interacted with a new dimension of my city’s residents while working at the Cabbage Patch Settlement House — an organization that works to break the chain of poverty through inner city children. This eye opening experience provided me with a broad base from which to perceive other members of society. While viewing the supposedly majestic scenes that had inspired the great writers of the Renaissance and the Romantic Period, Conway became aware this land was far from what she had perceived. It then became clear that the land she had been raised on out shined its unfamiliar counterpart. All my life I have been raised in a sunny temperate climate. I learned from the start that England and American where two entirely different entities, and therefore, I was able to enjoy the differences during my trip to England last summer.
After reading Conway’s autobiography, and seeing how she compares her inner workings to the landscape she was born in, I gained a better appreciation of exactly how much my up bringing has shaped who I am today and who I will become in the future.