On Writing – 25 September 2016

Much has been said and written about writing in general and why people write in particular. Somehow, I often have the urge to write. A few things happened to me in the last fortnight or so; and let me try to share them with you, not in any particular order.

First, I threw a party and went to a few others. I have always liked parties which seemed to be running my life when I was much younger. Some friends had something to say after some parties I went to, mainly on what they thought I said or I had done. I could recall much of what they told me most of the time, but not infrequently, I thought I had gone to the wrong party. The party I threw was actually planned weeks ahead. It was well attended and both Su and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, more interestingly, separately. Typically at parties, we would discover telltale aspects of the friends we are keeping and find out important clues on what is going on around us. Most of our friends drink, but some don’t. Over time, we tend to lose those who don’t drink at all; and I remember giving unsolicited advice to people at parties not to do business with people who don’t drink. Such advice, though, as with many of the advice I freely give, are often not well taken. During the party, a young lady came up and told me she had read some pages on my website and went on to say that she liked what she had read, adding that not many wrote with such style any more. I was somewhat embarrassed, but quietly happy, and I thank her. On our way home, I shared that with Su and suggested that maybe I should write more, more regularly and frequently.

Secondly, I attended at least three parties in a week during which I had taken in so much alcohol that I felt sleepy before the parties finished. Maybe some of the drinks were not so good, or maybe I got bored by the company, I thought afterwards. I recall a young gym instructor at my club telling me emphatically not to drink too much. He said he could never understand why people regularly took in so much stuff that were patently harmful to their bodies. Well, I have no answer to that – I have given up smoking and other minor vices – for I have no intention to give up fine wine and spirit.

Thirdly, I went to see a very good friend in hospital. He is a year or two my senior, has always exercised regularly, never smoke or indulge in drinking binges, and was about to celebrate his Big Seven when he suddenly became very ill. To cut the long story short and to spare you the details, he went through – and thank God he survived – at least three major operations and was in ICU for some ten days. He has since regained a lot of his strengths, body and mind, but would need to stay in hospital for at least a few more weeks.

Fourthly, I went to a bible sharing session, which is a monthly gathering between friends and Catholics interested in catching up with their spirituality. It has been around for many years and was led by my favourite priest and confessor who has been the primary reason for my presence, except that I have not been attending his sessions recently, for various reasons. This one I went to was very much like a party, except there was no alcohol. The session focused on sharing from three friends who were at the canonization ceremony in Rome of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. There was a lot of discussion on the darkness or emptiness which Mother Teresa wrote about which lasted for a long period of her life, which she had pleaded with the Bishop not to publish but which the Bishop resolutely refused. My priest said that the Bishop was guided by the Holy Spirit, which comment fueled more discussion. I hold rather specific views about darkness in one’s life. First and uppermost, it is personal and between God; and very importantly, one is not expected to be able to understand the full impact and significance of the darkness in another person’s life. Then I ran into this joke which I simply enjoy sharing with you: When your life is in darkness, pray and ask God to free you from darkness; and if you continue to be in darkness, pay your electricity bill.

Fifthly, I resigned from membership and hence chairmanship of the Standing Committee of HKU Convocation; and to those friends who are worried that the decision was precipitated by sickness or ill health, let me assure them that I am well and as fit as a fiddle as long as I do not over indulge in my favourite drinks. Nevertheless, the move has prompted me to slightly reorganize my website by adding a new category to the menu, suitably entitled “A New Chapter” which I believe is sufficiently self-explanatory. I intend to write more regularly and frequently under this category.

Sixthly, I was put into yet another chair in an order of Freemasonry. On my way to Zetland Hall that evening, I counted that it was my thirteenth, which was what I told my friend during dinner. Back home and the morning after, I counted again, it turned out to be the fifteenth. I thought to myself, maybe enough is enough, but I would need time to unwind and discharge my residual responsibilities.

Seventhly and lastly, I accidentally met an ex-colleague whom I haven’t seen for some two decades. She is also a common friend of the friend now in hospital. She told me she had resigned from the Civil Service, somewhat prematurely, primarily because she wanted to find time to do things for herself. In passing she revealed that she had left letters unopened for a few years before her retirement. I was amused, for now I know I am not alone in leaving letters unopened for prolonged periods.

This is to be the first posting in the new series – A New Chapter – and I am thinking about what I would do next.

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