Discretion Redefined in the Digital Age

Man in train with phone in handYesterday morning I was in the train, on my way to a meeting in the city. Behind me a man was making a mobile phone call. His voice was loud, and I’m sure many if not most people in the carriage could hear all he had to say.

The conversation was about the fact he had recently taken up a senior position in the organisation where he worked, and he was calling the woman at the other end of the phone call to sound her out about joining their team. I guess it was what you might call a ‘head-hunting’ call.

During the conversation, the woman’s name, the name of the organisation, and the name of the department in which he worked were all mentioned. So imagine my surprise when, towards the end of the phone call, he was assuring her of the confidentiality of the situation and that he was making ‘discreet enquiries’!

The conversation certainly did not fit within my definition of ‘discreet’!

In reflecting on the experience, I was also reminded me of a professional colleague who produced several Facebook updates in which he had aired an angry and at times rather crude tirade against his ex-wife. Or of several folk who have posted Facebook updates about their drunk or debauched activities the night before.

And let’s not forget the red-faced embarrassment of those who thought their ‘discreet’ messages would be safe, but found their thoughts aired to the world at large through the ‘cablegate’ of Wikileaks. :)

In this digital age, boundaries between private and public life have often shifted, blurred or disappeared.

And ‘discretion’ has apparently been re-defined! :)


The Storyteller

Unshaved, unkempt,
black nails, black teeth
and an old, tattered coat.
You’d dismiss him as derelict
and walk straight past.
Yet when he spoke
eagles soared,
mountains talked
and I glimpsed infinity.
“I’m a storyteller”
he said.
His stories wove spells
of dreaming and meaning.
The universe expanded,
and I felt for a moment
that I touched its limits.
Spellbinder …
The essence of truth
lies perhaps in all three.


Hit and Myth

Today I left something undone that I wish I had done – though perhaps others may say I’m foolish to think so.

I was driving into the Dandenongs (a local mountain range) and had turned into a road that winds its way for about 10 minutes by car up the mountainside towards the town of Sassafras.

Just around the corner, before this road begins to twist and climb in earnest, I saw three young lads trying to hitch a ride.  Probably in their late teens or early twenties, all with short hair and casually dressed in t-shirts and jeans. That’s all I could tell from the quick glimpse I caught of them as, even while my foot hesitated over the brake pedal, I drove on by.

And basically that’s the end of my story.

I can hear you all now:

“But of course!”
“Sensible woman!”
“You did the right thing.”
“Three young men? You’d have been stupid to stop.”

A chorus of reason and common sense? Yes, that’s true.

But what if I’d hit the brake instead of the accelerator? A different story plays in my head … [Read more…]


A Journey Shared

Last weekend I returned to a place I’d not visited in almost ten years.

Brunton’s Bridge is a glorious spot on the Thompson River in Victoria. It lies about 12 kilometers of dirt road beyond an old and now beautifully renovated/rebuilt mining town called Walhalla.


My partner, Glenn, died at the end of June in 1999 and the last time I had travelled to Brunton’s Bridge was the following December, when members of his family and I camped there overnight to scatter his ashes. He and I had shared life’s journey for 11 years and we’d often gone camping there. It was one of his favourite places to spend time, relaxing in the peaceful bush setting.

Glenn took his own life, so the months afterwards had been very hard for all of us.  We’d have gone with his ashes to Brunton’s Bridge earlier – but none of us had a four wheel drive vehicle, and that rough dirt road had been too muddy and dangerous for our cars until summer arrived that year to dry it out.

As it happened, this was no doubt a good thing. Six months after Glenn’s death we were readier to take that final journey with him.

Here is a poem I wrote at the time: [Read more…]


10 Lessons From Cats

I’ve been watching my two beautiful Tonkinese cats this morning and reflecting that the way they live holds great lessons for life.

Here are some of those things for which cats are such wonderful reminders.

  1. Creamy and Hershey Be sure to make time every day for play.
  2. Look for sunshine in your life and, when you find it, take the time to stretch your soul into it and enjoy.
  3. Develop the art of stillness.
  4. Take care of those close to you. Watch out for them, spend time with them and share life’s fun as much as you can.
  5. When you’ve had a spat with someone, forgive and forget. True friendship dwells above and beyond those differences.
  6. Explore new spaces, new places, and new things with insatiable curiosity – but gently and safely, taking care of yourself at the same time.
  7. You don’t have to be tense to stay alert, so relax those muscles. You can remain alert and completely, totally relaxed at the same time.
  8. When life seems cold, look for the warmest spot you can find and stay there. It’s ok to curl up under the doona sometimes and stay hidden for a while.
  9. When you know what you want in life, be sure to ask for it – loudly if necessary – in the certainty it will come to you in the end …
  10. … but most of the time you don’t have to put your claws out. A soft touch may be all you need to gain attention. :)

I have studied many philosophers and many cats.  The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.  (Hippolyte Taine)