Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Splendid isolation in Bangkok - December 5, 2022
- Why the Wai beats the handshake every time in the COVID era - December 1, 2022
- Discovering the lure of luxury at Hong Kong Airport and with Le Clos at DXB - November 25, 2022
I am not a deeply religious man but in illness I have found a spirituality I did not think existed. Not just in myself but in many of the people I know in this great, warm and embracing travel retail community.
No-one will ever tell me again that we are a superficial sector that simply buys and sells goods that no-one really needs. We are in fact an international cross-roads of cultures, personalities and individuals. Many of the latter are extraordinary indeed.
Since I have been ill, I have been blessed – and I do not use the word lightly – to discover a different, deeper friendship among many members of this community than that I already enjoyed.
I have come to know more about people, about their sense of compassion and comradeship, as well as about their own histories, problems and fears. I have learned more about the personal influences and reading habits of this industry than I thought possible. And I am better for it.
Last night I received an e-mail out of the blue from Francesco ‘Paco’ Heredia from London Supply and ASUTIL. Paco has long been one of my favourite characters but did I really know the man? No. Do I know him now? Yes. I know all that matters.
Paco told me about how touched he had been by my ‘Green Dress’ blog – it seemed to touch a chord with a lot of people – and then shared a story with me that he won’t mind me sharing with you.
I will let him take up the story: “I conscientiously read your comments on the importance of giving ourselves time to do the things that really matter, like buying that green dress or taking pleasure in the smile of a stranger through a bus window… and today I am experiencing something like that because Liliana (whom I have told ‘I love you’ countless times as per your instructions), after a whole life of working (almost 20 years with London Supply alone) has decided to retire to be full-time devoted to our children, primarily our son Nicolas who you know was born with Downs Syndrome. It seems that – little by little – we are also acquiring a bit of wisdom!”
In fact I did not know about Nicolas; just as Paco did not know I have an adopted brother, Alan, who has Downs Syndrome. Through adversity and the dialogue that ensues, we now both know more about each other.
As I began work on this Blog in the early hours of this morning – insomnia is an unwelcome side-effect of my chemotherapy – another touching e-mail came into me, this time from Susan Gray, a lovely, effervescent woman who has moved to Australia to set up the local arm of her Dad Frank’s excellent Concession Planning International company.
Again her words are better than mine: “I keep meaning to drop you a line about Viktor Frankl. He wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning – maybe you have already read it. I picked it up in the excellent book shop at the Holocaust Museum in DC.
“It’s a fascinating investigation of the human psyche. It had a profound effect on me. ‘Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’ It’s become something of a mantra for me and absolutely Mr Frankl is in no small part responsible for where I find myself today.”
I like that mantra, forged in much more difficult circumstances than mine, too. So there you are. The dialogue of friends across an international community, from Australia to South America to the UK. Take it from me – it’s a priceless exchange.