Anyone can change everything

by haywardhelen


On moving to Hobart five years ago I took out a subscription to the New Scientist. My kids were born in London – home of smog, competition and innovation – and I wanted them to know that although we now lived in a beautiful place, urgent issues were being addressed elsewhere. The first time I picked up the New Scientist, with its Rolex advertisement on the back cover, I barely took it in. Cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, late for school, I threw the magazine face down on the windowsill, on top of a boating magazine, a book about seamanship, a Harry Potter novel and The Guardian Weekly, and thought no more about it. The next time Rolex put its ‘Anyone can change everything’ advertisement on the back of the New Scientist I picked it up and read the small print. Who was this aspiring young reader that Rolex was appealing to? Was it my son who with his recently acquired a mobile phone had no need of a watch, and who anyway equated materialism with the school homework that he refused to submit? Was it my husband who likewise used his phone to check the time, and had his own schemes for changing the world? Clearly it wasn’t my daughter, who wore a fat sailing watch. And it certainly wasn’t me. Then I caught myself out. ‘No they can’t’, I thought to myself, flicking the magazine on to the windowsill before wiping down the breakfast table. ‘I can’t change everything’. But why did I think this? Is it because I live in Hobart, in turns celebrated for its promise and disdained for its mediocrity? Is it because I am the mother of two teenagers who unwittingly keep me in my place, cutting the top off my poppy every other day? Is it because I work freelance and natural modesty stops me from aiming too high? Is it because reaching fifty breeds a humility that I don’t remember feeling in my twenties? That was a year ago, and my life has changed since then. This morning I picked up the Rolex ad on the back of a recent New Scientist, struck by the longevity of such a simple marketing phrase. But this time it was different. I didn’t feel cynical at all. Anyone, I thought to myself, really can do everything. It seemed to me a great feeling to have on waking up in the morning. I would love my kids to feel empowered to change everything. The more of us who feel that we can change everything, I thought to myself as I threw the sponge into the sink and chased my daughter out the door, the better our world will be.