Health-y weekend

It was an unusual way to end the week – Tress and I took the little fellow to the vet on Friday night, to get his ears looked at. While there the vet followed up on his eye condition as well and it ended up a lengthy visit and with not an un-hefty bill to boot! We came away with a bagful of medication with promise of more to come. Sigh… in as much as the bill was painful, it was more painful to know the little fellow had challenging issues with his eye (right one) as well as his ears.

The next morning, after attending a men’s breakfast in church (with Jordan Hitchcock sharing), we went to a new dentist in Balwyn to get a plan for the myriads of problems I have had building up for a long time. It was nearly noon by the time we left Balwyn so it had been nearly 5 hours of not-fun activities.

After lunch and a quick grocery shopping and laundry drops, it was the optometrist’ turn to poke around and squeeze some moolah. Tress and I have both been experiencing vision challenges when it comes to reading on screen as well as print so we went to have it checked out. It took a lot longer than we expected and by the time it was done, the whole day had been taken up and we went home, did about an hour plus of gardening and then settled down to finally have a rest.

After church the next day we went to see Uncle Jin again, at the Western Hospital in Footscray. He looked very tired and after a couple of hours as we drove away headed for home, Tress and ached for him and Auntie Pin. We wondered what we could do to make it a bit easier for him and for them but we didn’t have any answer.

So it was a weekend that started, ended and interspersed with visits to healthcare service providers. From a little dog to a dear uncle, and I guess you can say I really got my teeth into this and we had eye-balled health issues the whole of this weekend.


The little yellow dress from New York

Kiddo’s on a plane now heading to Hong Kong. After a few hours in transit she would then continue on her journey towards New York, where she’d spend the next 10 days or so in Princeton University.

It would no doubt be an exciting time for her and the rest of the team who are there for a forum on third world development or something like that.

We wanted to speak to her before she left but she was in some other event and could only speak to her way past our bedtime. We did however, speak to her over the weekend and she was down with a cold and was coughing a bit but otherwise she seemed fine.

I remember the first and only time I visited New York. It was back in the 90’s when the world trade centre was still a landmark feature towering up all the way into the sky. My colleague and I went up to the roof and had pictures taken there as well as at the ground floor, where a metal sculpture of the globe stood.

That was nearly 20 years ago. I remember darting into a Bloomingdale store to get a little dress for kiddo. We eventually discovered the dress was in fact made in Malaysia so I had travelled half way across the world to buy my daughter a dress which was made in Malaysia.

That little (yellow) dress had since been passed on to various people and I now wonder whether it is still in use and by whom.

These days, when she is in Melbourne, she goes shopping for dresses with Tress sometimes. I sometimes play along and come for the ride, offering my half cent’s worth and making either a lame joke or a flat suggestion. I have a severely under-developed fashion sense and what ideas pop into my head are largely of the practical variety. Sad but true.

Kiddo’s her own person. I’m in a large-ish church full of talents. So I rarely feel the need to do anything. Work’s just the usual flurry of activities and talkfests abound as always. We don’t get/haven’t gotten involved in any other types of organisations or activities. Meeting up with people just for meals (with little other shared interests) is becoming harder work. It all adds up to freedom on the one hand, but also restlessness and aimlessness on the other.

I have been reading the scriptures from scratch again. Praying too. I am about to finish Deuteronomy. I am about to go into the more exciting narratives surrounding the entry into the land flowing with milk and honey, and the heroic conquests of Joshua & Co. I’m not sure how this will provide guidance on what I do with the time ahead of me. It may be that is a short window. It may be, as the ABS now says, it is still a long journey ahead (up to 41 years to go!). But while I can countenance doing the same thing for the next x number of years or for as long as I either need to or don’t die of boredom or frustration or stress, it’d be much more interesting if I’m seeing what difference I would be making to the world around me, other than depleting its natural resources, notwithstanding I am a relatively conservative consumer of goods and services. I guess it’s the age old urge and question of what else might I be doing that would make things more interesting, exciting and less of a grind.

But I guess that’s part of waiting on the Lord. Reading His word and spending time with Him is what I hope will take me to “the answer”. Maybe then I’d find peace and joy in whatever it is that I would do.

20 years from now, Kiddo may reminisce about her trip to Princeton. I hope by then both she and I as well as Tress would continue to press to find purpose and continue to wait on the Lord.

But I wonder where that little yellow dress is now…


Occasionally I wonder what would have happened had I been totally uninvolved in what happened to Jason. Coming across an article like this sort of puts that occasional concern to bed.   


February 16, 2014 By Guest Contributor 2 Comments

A great post by my friend Jenell Paris, who is Professor of Anthropology at Messiah College.

By Jenell Paris

I grew up fundamentalist; conservative in things political, religious, and sexual. The sexual scandals of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart came as a rude awakening in my formative years. Ruder still, when my pastor was found guilty of molesting dozens of boys. Since then, in my immediate circles I’ve known a pastor harassing college students, three in affairs with parishioners, and another covering up an affair.

In national news, such stories are in constant supply, from all sectors of Christianity. Starting last fall, a new spate: the great Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder sexually abused women physically and theologically. A recently released list of credibly accused Catholic priests in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Diocese includes thirty names; the list at just one Minnesota Catholic university includes eighteen. A group of former Bill Gothard followers expose him as a sexual predator and spiritual abuser.

Deviants abound, but so do heroes; people who insist on bringing the truth to light.

Is there someone in your life, church, or religious circle who uses their power to manipulate, dehumanize, molest, or otherwise violate your well-being, of that of people you care about? Are you thinking of blowing the whistle?

Maybe you’re hoping people will believe you. They’ll reject the legitimacy abusers’ authority, withdrawing their consent to be led and taught by them. They’ll stop the abuse from happening to others. Maybe they’ll even thank you for your bravery.

This could happen, but don’t count on it. Prepare yourself for a more likely scenario, one that plays out like a formulaic script in religious settings where leaders abuse power.

Scene 1: You answer the clear and relentless call of your conscience. You saw something, so you say something.

Scene 2: The response: a few people might listen well. Some might take decisive and quick action. More likely, however, you’ve inflamed people’s fear of seeing their leader fall off a moral pedestal. You’ve raised the possibility that an institution that carries tradition, holds resources, and administers sacred rites may be flawed, even to a diabolical degree. This fear is often more painful to them than whatever harm you might have experienced or observed.

Accordingly, responses may begin with the word “You.”

– You are alone. No one else has ever complained about this person. If you’re right, which you likely are not, it must be an isolated incident.

– You are wrong. Your perceptions are off, memory flawed, mind confused. You didn’t see what you saw. You don’t know what you know. Your truth is nothing more than a mistake, or a lie.

– You are angry. You are pushy and loud; you just won’t let it go. If you’re female, you’re unfeminine, disrespecting godly authority. In fact, perhaps the real issue here is why you are such an angry person.

– You are bad. Good people are faithful, prayerful, and obedient. You are untrusting, unfaithful, and unloving. You need to pray more.

Scene 3: In some situations, the abuse is incontrovertible. The script may then shift from responses beginning with “You” to responses beginning with “But.” Yes, the abuse happened, but…

– But he did so many other good things. Let’s focus on his preaching, his books, and his public ministry. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

– But that was a long time ago. The stories you’re telling are from years ago, or months ago, or weeks ago. It’s probably not still happening. Surely he’s worked on his issues.

– But you need to forgive. You say you want truth told, but consider how hard that would be for everyone to hear. We can’t undo what happened, so just forgive, let go, and quiet down.

Scene 4: The script often ends in one of two ways. The first is that justice remains undone. The truth isn’t told, or if told, isn’t heard. The abuser either continues in ministry, or is rewarded with higher status for having suffered your accusations. The whistle-blower moves away and moves on, or lives with a damaged reputation within the community that continues to support the abuser.

The second is that justice is done; the truth is told, the air is cleared, the abuser is held accountable, and the victims are offered meaningful support and recompense. In this scenario, the people who said, “You…” and “But…” instantly change position, and claim to have been concerned, supportive, aware, and on the case all along. You weren’t in it for glory, but still, it is painful when your contribution is minimized or ignored.

* * *

Given this deplorable cultural script — boring in its predictability yet soul-stabbing in each particularity — is it worth stepping onto the stage and raising your voice to speak?

The abuser could be called to account; systems and institutions can change. The likelihood in any given case is probably small, but nonetheless, very real. If this doesn’t happen — should the abuser continue with acclaim, and the institution or community crush you in order to protect itself – there still is gain.

It’s the blessing Jesus extends to the reviled. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Mt. 5:11).

And to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: “they shall be satisfied.” And to the peacemakers, because truth and accountability – not niceness or silent submission — is the path to peace.

This blessing is not for the afterlife and not for the spirit alone; it is real and tangible in the here and now. It is the kingdom of God. The blessed:

– Enjoy the unburdening – lightness, some even say – that comes with telling painful and necessary truths.

– Empathize and stand in solidarity with every other person who has lived with or near abuse.

– Appreciate, from an insider’s perspective, the dynamics of injustice and the slowness of righteousness. The blessed reject, once and for all, religious platitudes about God being in control, or all things working together for good, or the virtue of suffering in silence.

– Know reconciliation and forgiveness is more than quietude. The blessed savor the dignity that comes with asking for all that true reconciliation requires, regardless of the response.

Prospective whistle-blowers, count the cost: additional trauma, shunning or judgment, loss of employment, position, or reputation, and the possibility that meaningful change will prove elusive. Your answer will emerge from your conscience and from the sacred voice that speaks, in various ways, to each of us. It may be ‘no’, or ‘not yet.’ It may be ‘yes’, in a certain time and way.

Count the cost, and then do what you have to do. There’s no telling what will happen, except for one thing that is absolutely predictable. You will be blessed, and not with trinkets like propriety or approval, but with the resolute blessing of a dignified life adorned with wisdom and courage.

Quiet, lonely beauty of Daylesford

We’re into our 10th year in Melbourne but we’d never been to Daylesford. Tress’ cousin will be getting married in April and has invited us to the wedding in Daylesford. We didn’t have anything particularly pressing last Saturday so after the usual dry cleaning run we took a drive there, taking Little Black Jedi along with us.

We left just after 9.30 and got into Daylesford about a couple of hours later. Lakehouse restaurant was one of the first place we saw and a bit after that we stopped by the lakeside and took a walk around the lake. It was a cool and calm respite, after a very warm, humid and busy week in Melbourne. We then drove towards town and after a quick check online for some places to eat, we went to a deli place called Broconcini, sat along the footpath (because of LBJ). The food was very good and service very courteous and attentive.

Other than a drive for a day out, we wanted to visit Daylesford also for the purpose of some reconnaissance.  We had the luxury of time and decided to use it to check out where we can stay when we visit for the wedding in less than 2 months. So we drove around town, then on to Hepburn Springs, saw a few choices and Tress talked to a local accommodation guide office and got some ideas too.

We left close to 3 and got home, did some grocery shopping and went home to prepare some stuff for the dinner we were going to at Ing Tung and Chin Moi’s on Sunday night. Kiddo then called on skype and we had a good chat. She was going to New York in a few days, and would be there for a couple of weeks.

On Sunday morning it rained and Tress and I were both caught as we walked from the car park to the church building, which was a distance of maybe 100 metres. We were soaked and it took a while to settle down but when we did the service was enjoyable as always. There was another very good sermon by David Williams (who is also CMS training and development leader) on looking at church through the lens of who Jesus is. We spent some time talking to a new couple (who is expecting their new baby in July).

We went home after lunch and a bit more grocery shopping and that night, after doing a simple dish to bring along, we met up with Ing Tung and Chin Moi at their home, where they had an old friend – Vincent Lu – over. Vincent’s oldest boy would be starting at Monash, along with the daughter of Catherine and Alfred, another friend in the same circle.

At the dinner, there were 5 who were in the same class in school in Sibu. 2 of them were even in the same kindergarten. All are 50 years old now with kids in uni, and it was a time for some reminiscing. We had a wonderful time with these old friends, trying to take a peek into the world of young people in uni and trying to make sense of the world we now live in. Margaret’s husband had been a senior scientist at Telstra for years but had been made redundant end of last year. The rest of us were just plodding along in what work we can find. Life goes on and time with friends is cherished. We talked about church too – about where to go and where we’ve been.

A bit strange in another time but last night, I understood some aspects of it all. Rare thing. Unusual.  But I saw – life isn’t about achieving. It is about dealing with challenges and issues at every turn and doing it honestly and if possible, corporately. To this end a place like Daylesford, though serene and beautiful maybe lacks something.

Human Rights – and liberalism

The below article resonated with me. It sings a tune that I liked, from around the time when I first came across the work of Roger Scrutton. I am lurching ever more towards such liberalism especially given the economic challenges many western countries face. Dependence on big government is a beast once created, invariably becomes an unwieldy behemoth. Dismantling it can be as hard as cleaning the Aegean stables.

In Australia, recent figures showing the proportion of population dependent on one type of government handout or another illustrate the depth we can plumb on the back of this addictive beast. Weaning it off a dependency mindset can be a multigenerational task. I only hope we can all manage to fend for ourselves and only the very truly needy seeks help.

Another side difficulty is of course, the issue of where we draw the line. Who is the very truly needy? Maybe if the Christian community do as the scriptures say and share our wealth more readily, we don’t need big governments and can avoid the shackle that holds a country back from achieving more. More not in terms of capital accumulation but in terms of enriching the lives of its people in wholesome, industrious and honest manner.

How the left corrupted human rights

| Simon Breheny

In May 2011, a United Nations Special Rapporteur declared that people had a human right to internet access. It seems absurd to argue that such a right exists but it is the logical progression of the corrupting influence of leftist ideology on the traditional conception of human rights.

It’s worth pointing out that this is not just an obscure debate within the confines of an irrelevant international body. Finland had implemented legislation a year before-in July 2010-that granted every one of its citizens the right to speeds of one megabit per second.

The right to internet access is just one of the many ‘human rights’ manufactured by the left throughout the course of the last century. The right to welfare is another example. Earlier this year, another UN official said that an Australian government decision to reduce welfare payments was a violation of the unemployed’s fundamental right to receive Centrelink benefits.

‘Rights’ to other social privileges have also become popular over the last hundred years. During his State of the Union Address on 11 January 1944, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a ‘Second Bill of Rights’. This new Bill of Rights included rights to employment, a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, housing, medical care, education and social security. FDR believed that the US’ original Bill of Rights had ‘proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.’

A similar set of ‘human rights’ was later included in the 1952 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration included rights to employment (article 23), housing, healthcare and welfare (article 25) and education (article 26). If the internet had been around in the 1950s the right to bandwidth probably would have been included too.

Of course, none of these things are actually human rights. At best they’re vague policy aspirations. By definition, human rights exist without the need for policies and programs of government. Universal human rights are not privileges granted by the state but restrictions on what the state can do. The concept of human rights is based on the idea that people acquire them by virtue of being human. So if coercion is required to give effect to a potential human right, it’s not a human right. Compulsory redistribution of resources of the kind that is required for government programs such as subsidised education and healthcare are therefore not human rights.

The fundamental issue with this group of so called rights is not just that they don’t meet the definition of human rights. That would be a pretty abstract concern. The deeper concern is that their implementation unavoidably entails their violation.

Rights to free schooling, housing, jobs, and healthcare require the government to take money from one section of the community and give it to another.

This is just old-fashioned redistribution and it clearly violates your human right to do with your property what you will. But it’s sold under the guise of human rights.

And a strikingly large number of people accept that these are in fact rights to which we as human beings are entitled. It is remarkable that so many have come to accept these vague policy goals as immutable rights. And it’s important to understand why.

The key reason these ‘rights’ were developed was to achieve particular ideological ends. While conservatives and liberals see human rights as an end in themselves, the left-wing view human rights as another tool to achieve outcomes. And it’s for this reason that leftists have co-opted the language of human rights. It’s not hard to see why. What’s more powerful: ‘I think the government should subsidise education’, or ‘people have a right to free education.’

The language of human rights has been used very successfully by the left to fight for particular interest groups they have decided are important. It allows the left to elevate left-wing principles of equality to the same level as human liberty.

The left’s co-optation of the language of traditional human rights to their own agenda has corrupted human rights. Original ideas about civil liberties place a distant second in the minds of many human rights lawyers and academics if they even figure at all.

More particularly, the left has corrupted legitimate human rights that broadly fall into the category of ‘positive liberties’. In his 1958 essay ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’, Isaiah Berlin argued that there are two categories of freedom-positive and negative liberties. Negative liberties are those that exist when an individual is free from coercion. Freedom of thought and association, for example, are respected simply by the state doing nothing to restrict these rights. Rights to participate in the political system are distinct-they require some level of government action. The right to vote is a positive liberty.

The success of the left was in twisting Berlinian positive liberties into what they now call positive rights. This co-optation by progressives was successfully used to include what became known as economic, social and cultural rights. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the best example of this. The UN treaty is filled with the kind of vague ‘rights’ loved by those on the left. Of course, due to their ambiguity it is impossible to objectively enforce these rights because they require qualitative measurements.

In stark contrast, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights defends true human rights. Civil rights are negative freedoms, while political rights are positive freedoms in the classical sense.

True human rights are rooted in the idea that individuals should be free to pursue their own goals. They go to the heart of classical liberal philosophy-human rights act as specific limits on state power and create the blueprint for legitimate government built on the protection of human rights, not their abrogation.

Rights based on human freedoms are the only human rights. Any other characterisation misses the fact that human rights are those that must be able to exist in absence of the state. The left has clearly failed to grasp this important idea. But conservatives and liberals have also failed to address this corruption. It’s time for us to take on the left and return to a truly liberal conception of human rights.

Another turn

Back in Malaysia all those years ago, we used to go up for holidays in Penang. We’d stay in one of those beach hotels in Ferringhi and my recollection is always sweet. I remember when as a very little girl, kiddo was afraid even to tread on sand. We had to ease her into it – taking one literal baby step at a time. I saw fear and held her hand.

Soon however she loved the beach. But the heat and humidity meant we weren’t at the beach a lot. Strange I know, that we’d stay in a beach hotel and didn’t spend virtually all the time at the beach. We would however, spend hours in the pool. We’d be at the beach for a short while and then come back to the pool and be there for the most part.

In one of the hotels there were slides on the edge of the pool and kids would have a whale of a time climbing up to the top and sliding into the pool. I remember one had two slides – a low and gradually sloped one and a higher, steeper one.

Once kiddo decided to be adventurous and decided to go for the higher one. At some point between scaling the height of that slide and hitting the water, her excitement clearly turned into fear. That point of transformation was in the lower half. She must have picked up speed somewhat. As I often did, I was waiting at the point where she’d hit the water, ready to pick her up from the water. As I looked at her, I saw the fear in her eyes. There are several points in her life I remember well. That was one of them and I still see it when I close my eyes and reminisce.

Like I said, there were others. Obviously the moment of her birth is up there. I hope even if the day comes where I am struck by dementia, I would never forget that moment, when a dark purplish bulb turned, in a twinkling of an eye, into a beautiful angelic pink face. Then there was the time she was in a park for a corporate family function. She had climbed a structure all the way to the top. When she stopped to look down she swore for the first time – she was maybe 4 years old then and I saw that fear in her eyes. Then there was that hot soup scalding she had and the days of treatment – after that. The trips to the doctors, with the gauze removed, wound cleaned and new gauze applied. She was resolute but I saw fear in her eyes.

I can no longer hold her hand as she treads sand for the first time, or be at the bottom of the waterslide to pick her up, or climb up the monkey bar to carry her down. Or hold her hand as she lay on the doctor’s bed. But every day, I still pray she would not have that look of fear in her eyes.

Effort and Cost

There’s a bunch of guys in the gym who take it upon themselves to make sure everyone knew the locker room is a locker room. The 5 minutes before and 10-15 minutes after that I spend in that locker room, is constantly peppered with vulgarity, profanity, abuse and sexual derision that is constant and gratuitous.

This morning there was “something entirely different” – they “discussed” the case of a baby (yet to be born) who has two faces, two brains but just the one body. That case was going to be a feature story of a magazine styled tv show later tonight and was advertised extensively this morning. I guess we must have been seeing the same things on the tv screens facing the cardiovascular exercise machines.

A member of this usually loud and bothersome trio opined loudly that if the baby is still unborn and it is a known fact that he/she would be born with this complication, the pregnancy should be terminated forthwith and the child spared the agony of social, physical and emotional wars he or she would surely have to fight for the most part of his or her life.

Last Thursday at the home group of our church, someone mentioned Melinda Tankard Reist and I remember reading about her work iin Caberra, where she established a halfway house sort of facility for pregnant women. Tankard Reist is a pro-life campaigner and founded the home to support women who would otherwise have terminated their pregnancies. At that time I thought it was compelling work. I have a vague sense of the mountains of challenges single women and women without the support or means to bring up a child, face when the contemplate bringing a child into this world. Pro-life campaigners may mount the most compelling argument against abortion but that still leaves the issue of the practical challenges facing women with unwanted pregnancies. The halfway home Tankard Reist founded gave credence and real help to back up its convictions.

Life is indeed sacred. So terminating life for no other reasons than the mother’s right to live a life of certain quality on the one hand seems difficult to support. But equally difficult to support is an argument for preserving that life if this would then mean years of untold agony the mother and many others, would face given the pregnancy was unwanted. This would be especially true if that child is also saddled with the sort of complications the tv show would highlight tonight. No doubt with state of the art graphics that would tell a most visual story.

Maybe the community of faith is meant to step in here. It may work better if the prolife camp had “more skin in the game” i.e. when an unwanted pregnancy isn’t terminated, the baby would be assured of a village he or she would require to bring him or her up. Extended somewhat, a community of faith in obedience to our Lord’s teaching can ensure that even that child with such astounding complications (as we shall no doubt find out tonight) would be provided with the best chance of being loved and becoming a cherished member of a community. It is when we each look after ourselves that we look for the easiest way to deal with issues like unwanted pregnancies – make the problem go away…

Uncle Jin, New Quite Mornings…

A couple of nights ago Tress and I felt a wave of sadness as we received news of Uncle Jin’s diagnosis. Tress then rang her parents in Klang and after that she must sat up reading to learn more about the condition.


While Uncle Jin came across as positive when we met him last weekend, so he is determined to deal with this head on. I hope he does well through the treatment process.


Other than the confronting news, other matters have added up to make this a full on week. Work continues to be unrelenting and while I still take a hardnosed approach in leaving on time (by 5.30) I now leave knowing there is so much more to do and so the pressure builds up. But I tell myself there will always be loads to do in any event so just deal with each day as it comes. But I do go home tired every day now, and can’t wait to take the little fellow out, do my gym laundry, fix lunch for the next day and then settle down with Tress and my glass of wine. It is often the best time of the day.


Or maybe that moment of a glass in one hand is being challenged as the best part of the day… I now enjoy reading the scriptures again and am working hard at going through a few chapters every morning. The sense of letting God reveal to me who He is, what He does and what please Him and what displeases Him – all of this is taking me to a place that gives me joy and peace. And so that 20-30 minute between waiting at the train platform and arriving at Parliament Station is now taken up with reading, reflecting and praying. It has been a good few weeks that way. 2014 has been good that way.


Officially there is only 3 weeks left this summer. But the unrelenting heat makes it feel like it would be a very long 3 weeks, and more likely than not, it would remain warm till at least mid April. Anyway, it would be another hot weekend, with temperatures forecast for 40 degree tomorrow… sigh…

Work Grind

Earlier today I had a series of palpitations and while I’ve had them before – once a few years ago when I’ve had a few coffees – it was a bit of a worry.

The only source of stress for me is work, as I now have little interests outside of work which may have caused any sensation of any sort.

Sure, United’s abysmal struggles to cope with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson have been a source of consternation but it isn’t anxiety. I am a long term fan but I seldom feel fanatical about its prospects.

At work the pressure is mounting. It has been. And with a colleague recently welcoming the arrival of his firstborn, his ensuing absence has meant an escalation of work streaming in towards yours truly. Somehow the boss too, has been funnelling a certain type of work towards me. Maybe that’s the source of it.

Increasingly in any event, the sentiments which drove me out of practice into not for profit work back in 2011, have been swarming back. The constant focus on matters which entail subjective, soft and obscure concepts all for the apparent objective of documenting thought processes, deliberations and decisions, often come across as paper generating and shuffling which does little to add real value. Often such work appear to come about not because it actually improves the operations of the company or reduces the risk it wears but simply because the boss (or his boss) wanted it done, and that could have come about from any angle, including to satisfy his/her/their boss’ KRAs.

I am still warding off work beyond regular hours but that too increasingly means my work is falling behind. Longer hours may no longer be an optional matter.

Phillip Symour Hoffman and Uncle Jin

I was at the gym this morning when breaking news flashed across the television screen in front of me, saying Phillip Seymour Hoffman has died. He was 46 years old. I have come to like his acting a lot. I thoroughly enjoyed “Doubt” where he played a catholic Father alongside Meryl Streep to great effect. For one reason or another I have never got around to watching “Capote” and so probably missed his most acclaimed performance.

I was quickly scanning his responses to interviews about how he struggled to cope with everyday activities. He said something to the effect that he, like many people, woke up each morning and struggled in wondering if he knew he was going to spend the day doing something that he would feel good about at the end of that day so that he could end that day sleeping well.

I guess that struggle often meant he didn’t think so which lead to his reported problems with heroin. Like many people, I guess when a celebrity who performs heroically on screen reveals such vulnerability there is a certain level of comfort on the part of plebs like me. And yet it also reveals how we can over-rate the role of performance and making a difference in the workspace.

Work, like a mate of mine often said, is a means to an end. In as much as it takes a huge chunk of our time, performance should probably make a difference in other spheres more than in work. I’m sure many would not share this view. Work and its focus, and centrality in life, tends to underpin wealth creation and wellness of one’s body and to a lesser extent, soul. To relegate it to any other level can feel like a cop out. Yet it looks like it is the source of turmoil and lair of demons to souls like Hoffman.

Tress and I visited Uncle Jin in his home at Point Cook over the weekend and the simplicity of life appears to be the takeaway. Here’s a wealthy man who now confronts the vagaries of life in the form of medical uncertainty. His wife is a pillar of strength but has her moments of weakness. All he wants now is knowledge of what confronts him and what that means to the future. His future. His wife’s future. His soon to be married daughter’s future. The future of all of his children and his grandchildren.

All Tress and I could do is to be there for him. We didn’t perform in a way that made a difference. Sometimes one doesn’t have tasks to be accomplished to make a difference. I hope we made a difference simply by being there. But it doesn’t matter. It is not about us making a difference. It is about the welfare of those around us. Or are they just different sides to a coin? Maybe. But when we focus on just one side as we often do, something doesn’t sit right…

I hope Uncle Jin finds peace soon. I hope the doctors give him positive news and soon. I hope he finds true peace – peace with God – soon.