Dear Inner Circle,

A rather well-dressed man made an appointment to speak in my office. We’d never met but he’d been part of this inner circle for some years. A man who had accomplished much found himself unable to cope with a work colleague. He described what certainly sounded like some pretty unfair events in the recent history of his workplace. Even so, the emotion seemed to loom larger than the events themselves. We chatted for the best part of an hour. I should say, he chatted and I mostly listened. For some reason that I can’t remember, the man began to talk of his mother. It became clear that nothing in the work place matched the trauma this man knew with his mother. I was amazed as a story of abuse unfolded and became darker and darker, including an event when his mother held a loaded gun to his head and claimed the right to end his life if she so chose. Suddenly and without any prompting from me, that man said, “I’m getting these two stories mixed up aren’t I?” It was a revelation that surprised him even as the words came out of his mouth. A thoroughly good man revealed his own secret to himself and left determined to do better with his difficult colleague. He gave permission for this story to be told as not even his close circle would spot his identity here. What a blessed and privileged life I lead.

At Sydney airport recently, I made a visit to the men’s room. I washed my hands and noticed as I turned the water off that the tap had a spongy feel, almost as if the tap was not firmly attached to the basin. It was not worthy of a look or a second thought. When I was about 10 steps away, drying my hands, a loud voice yelled, “Hey you!” I looked to see a rather tall man who appeared to be looking at me. “You must turn off the tap,” he yelled. I noticed that a tap, presumably the one I used, was still running slightly. I was surprised enough to hesitate for just a moment but the man increased the volume. “You must turn off the tap!” I felt like saying, “Well you’re over there standing right by the tap and I’m up here near the door. How about you turn off the tap.” There was no time for me to say anything because once again came, “You must turn off the tap.” I walked back briskly and pushed the tap shut. We now walked to the door more or less together, so he opened the door but turned around blocking my way and just so I would be unlikely to forget this lesson, he repeated, “You must turn off the tap.” I wanted to say, “Thanks for the conversation. It’s been nice talking.”

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